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  Big Brother 3
Updated 23 May 2002, 17.00
Big Brother 3 logo
The Big Brother 3 logo

Citizenship 11-14/KS3/Levels E&F
Media and society

Big Brother three has been launched by Channel 4.

Students design their own 'reality TV' show.

Learning aims

  • Learn about the characteristics of 'reality TV'.

  • Design their own reality TV show and critique others.

  • Consider the effect that these shows have on the lives of their contestants.
Read the story 'Big Brother's back!'.

  Click here for the news story that accompanies this lesson.

Ask the class:

  • How many of them have watched Big Brother?

  • How can being a contestant on the show affect someone's life?

  • What does the phrase 'reality TV' mean to you?

  • Why do people watch these types of programmes?

Brainstorm a list of shows that might fall into each of these categories:

1. 'Fly on the wall' reality TV shows (such as Airport, The Cruise, The Osbournes and Holiday Reps), the news, and documentaries.

2. TV-generated reality TV shows (such as Temptation Island, Survivor, Eden, Big Brother and The Real World).

3. Shows that blend the two (such as Blind Date and Singled Out).

Invite students to share their opinions about what distinguishes these three categories from one another.

Big Brother 3 house

Main activity
Written task
Ask the class what they think makes a good reality TV show:

  • When there's a camera and a crew filming, does this change how people behave?

  • What do you think makes reality TV shows successful?

  • What are the ethical issues of having a camera following people around constantly?

  • What do you think the next generation of reality TV shows might be like?
Help students to compile a set of attributes that they feel distinguishes the best of the reality TV shows from the others.

Using the attributes that the class agrees determine a good reality TV show, students will create their own scenarios for a new reality-based TV show.

When coming up with their ideas, students should keep these questions in mind:

  • Where will your show take place?

  • What types of people will be on it?

  • What will your show be called?

  • During what time of day or night do you suggest this show to be broadcast?

  • For how many days, weeks, or months should the show last?

  • What is the basic idea or storyline for your programme?

  • What makes this show different from those that are currently on the air?

Extension activity
Divide the class into groups and get them to agree on the best personality traits and characteristics for a Big Brother contestant.

These prompts may be useful:

  • Physical attractiveness
  • Physical strength
  • Sense of humour
  • Sporty
  • Good listener
  • Good talker
  • Calm
  • Likes company
  • Creative
  • Good at cooking
  • Musical
  • Good leader
Once the groups have finished their list, they could either give each characteristic a rating out of 10, or rank them in order of importance.

Gather the class' lists together and look for similarities and differences. Ask the groups to explain any differences.

Recap on the main teaching points and students share their reality TV show ideas with the class.

The rest of the class should then imagine that they are TV critics reviewing each new show that has been created.

Students should provide both positive and negative opinions, identifying what about it will draw viewers to it, and what types of things might turn some people off.

Teachers' Background

  • Broadcaster and psychologist Oliver James has spoken to a number of those who had taken part in reality TV shows and he felt they were not aware of the impact their participation would have on their lives.

  • Dr James's comments were backed up by TV presenter and columnist Vanessa Feltz, who separately accused the makers of celebrity Big Brother of making her look like "Jack Nicholson out of the Shining".

  • Channel 4's Big Brother does use psychologists to help choose suitable contestants and also offer "aftercare" when the show has finished.

  • BBC One controller Lorraine Heggessey has agreed that many participants did not realise the impact of what they say on camera when it was screened on TV.

For all links and resources click at top right.

More InfoBORDER=0
TV/FilmBig Brother's back!
PicturesPictures: Big Brother 3 house
Find OutOur guide to Big Brother


Web Links
Big Brother
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