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EDITIONS
Monday, 29 July, 2002, 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK
Big Brother Final
Kate - winner of Big Brother 2002

Vulgarisation or vindication: The Big Brother Final Result

Our critics discuss this year's competition and what it says about our culture.

(Edited highlights of the panel's review)


MARK LAWSON:
Big Brother is all over tonight. Kate is the winner. Channel 4 is clearly a winner because they've made several million pounds out of this. A lot of suggestions from grumpy pundits is that television has been a loser this time.

IAN RANKIN:
It's been a more sustained theatre of cruelty this time. They have made it purposely bad for them and not given them intellectual nourishment at all. No books or writing materials. They blocked the house off into two halves, the "haves" and the "have-nots".

They gave them a big swimming pool, alcohol and strip poker. All to try and get them to act and react badly. I think we saw that, you wonder where they'll go next.

Do they introduce Uzis, Kalashnikovs and cocaine into the next household and take it down to 16 to 20-year-olds in there? It's been a sustained theatre of cruelty, which has been fascinating to watch!

MARK LAWSON:
They seemed to have swapped audiences. The article of faith of people saying, "I am not going to watch this", their ratings are up again.

PAUL MORLEY:
It confirms that the basic formula is amazing. Ian is right, I think they fiddled around with it too much this year. The basic thing of putting 12 people in there and seeing what happens to their personalities over time is fantastic.

Jonny went in as a cheeky chappy and came out with a likeness to Apocalypse Now. From the outside they are turned into fictional characters. They have to come out and deal with that. All that adds to it.

MARK LAWSON:
You have to keep reminding yourself, they don't know what's been going on.

PAUL MORLEY:
It's what we have invented them into being. They don't know any of that yet. They are going to have to learn that. That's another fascinating dimension.

MARK LAWSON:
That made me feel uneasy, that there is a gap between what we have been told they are and what they actually are, when they come out. That's worrying, isn't it?

PAUL MORLEY:
It is, but it's almost what the television was invented for. 20-hour streaming, multimedia elements, the way we have got to start dealing ourselves with our own responsibility of how to deal with television.

The fact we can vote, it throws it back on us. We are in the Big Brother world and we have to take responsibility for that. We have created these creatures.

MARK LAWSON:
Are you a fan?

NATASHA WALTER:
Absolutely not. You can participate in this group dynamic and gossip and vote on it, but you can do that without having to go through the mind-boggling tedium of watching it. There is so much in the air now, you just pick it up from tabloids and hear it from people all the time. Just don't bother to watch it.

MARK LAWSON:
The line that's being put about is it's important that Kate is the first woman to win this.

NATASHA WALTER:
Not a great triumph for feminism, I am afraid, Mark!

MARK LAWSON:
Some people do see that as important. Does it not matter who wins in the end?

NATASHA WALTER:
You would know that more than me. How can it really matter who wins? On what level does it matter? If you take it too seriously, the whole thing descends into absurdity.

PAUL MORLEY:
It mattered that she beat Jonny.

MARK LAWSON:
Why?

PAUL MORLEY:
It just does to me personally. But it's interesting, because it's the Ballardian view of the future, much more than Orwell in a sense.

IAN RANKIN:
It gets its tricks from the science fiction B movie. You are in a game that's life or death, in the game only to provide entertainment for people back home.

MARK LAWSON:
The producers insist that, although it's said they have vulgarised it, they insist nothing has changed and it's the same.

PAUL MORLEY:
There is a consciousness about the participants. They are now aware what's going on. Some of them were chosen because they didn't know. Some knew exactly.

Jonny knew exactly what he was doing. There was a self-consciousness and sophistication about the way they played the game, which means it can go on endlessly.

We hope that this programme goes on there - I want to see Paxman in there! It strips down to the basics of personality. We don't want it to strip down so far.

MARK LAWSON:
Some people say that it's over, it should finish. Ian, what do you think?

IAN RANKIN:
It will keep on going as long as Endemol and the producers keep making money.

See also:

05 Apr 02 | Panel
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