Big Brother’s Bigger Brother 

7 October 2003

Year 48 in the Big Brother house.

So far we’ve had 25 contestants plus one substitute in the house. The housemates are a good mix of social classes – from the upper class Associated Rediffusion to the unemployable layabout Carlton.

Here’s a quick recap of the last 48 years in the house, starting with our first eviction.

Wales (West and North) – known as “Teledu Cymru” to his few friends.

Poor old WWN. Evicted by the votes of the City, WWN had promised to be something different in the house. He first appeared in 1962, promising to bring Welsh-language conversation along with the usual English language fare we know and love.

But despite the efforts of his housemates, the world was against him from the start and he exited with grace but little dignity in 1964, though his fellow housemate (and next door neighbour) promised to keep the flag of Wales flying for him.

Television Wales and West – also known as Telly Welly

WWN’s only friend (and next door neighbour of the ill-fated housemate), TWW was evicted by Big Brother himself, having been found guilty of Not Being Interesting compared to a potential new entrant to the house. This was during a period – 1967 – when Big Brother was flexing his muscles in the house.

Harlech Television – soon nicknamed “HTV”

The bright hope of Big Brother, arriving shortly after Telly Welly had left the house (ignoring the substitute housemate ITSWW/ITSTC) with a promise of loud noises, big show numbers and a bright personality.

A disappointment to viewers, then, when he turned out to be TWW all over again, only with less money but a louder voice.

Associated Rediffusion – aka “AR”

AR was the first of the housemates to enter the Big Brother compound, and spent a tough day on his own before the next contestant appeared. Popular from the start, AR then had to live with his fellow housemates soon outshining him. Interestingly, despite forming the corner-stone of the house, AR is condemned in history to forever being thought second-rate, despite his attempt at a new personality and look in 1964.

His son took his place in the house in 1968 when AR was evicted by Big Brother – again for the crime of Not Being Interesting.

Associated Television – used the nickname “ATV” having failed to get “ABC” to stick with the viewers

ATV was the second into the house, noticeably brasher but poorer than AR. For most of the 60s it looked like ATV would win – especially as he could count on the Midlands for support in addition to the London audience.

But the London audience turned on him in 1968 and ATV had only the Midlands to rely on for about 13 years before Big Brother evicted him for being popular but very annoying.

ABC Weekend – the golden child

ABC was the fourth entrant into the house, a last minute choice after an original housemate dropped out before filming began.

ABC was much loved by Big Brother and by the viewers, but suffered from only really being active on weekends. For the rest of the week, she was rarely seen, thanks to ATV’s dominance of the house.

ABC left in 1968, and her child by AR took the place of both parents – though was noticeably more like his mother.

1968 was a busy time in the Big Brother house. With TWW, ABC and AR evicted, newcomers Harlech, YTV and LWT arrived, although all had a hard time settling down. Thames, the son of ABC and AR, settled down quicker than most but still had some awkward times.

The next to leave were part of Big Brother’s multiple eviction in 1981. On New Year’s Eve, Southern, Westward and ATV were all kicked out.

Southern’s crime was, yet again, Not Being Interesting. Westward was given medical leave, having fallen out with himself, and ATV left, only to return in disguise as ‘Central’. Everyone knew who ‘Central’ really was, but didn’t mind.

But then we enter the play offs.

A round of evictions in 1993 saw the end of Southern’s replacement TVS and Westward’s successor TSW. It also saw the eviction of Thames, the son of ABC and AR so long ago, in a move calculated to shock the viewers but also heralding a decline of entertainment from the house.

Then Big Brother raised the stakes. He announced that, from now on, evictions would be decided by the housemates themselves.

Quickly YTV, who entered the house in 1968, evicted original member Tees. YTV himself was then evicted by original member Granada. Suddenly it became clear that the oldest housemate, Granada, or the youngest, the immature Carlton, would be the ultimate winner.

Carlton picked off Central and newcomer Westcountry, but a confrontation with Granada was inevitable. New housemate Meridian plus original members Anglia and the vertically-challenged Border all came under pressure. Granada won, but allowed Carlton to remove Harlech to keep the peace.

And now here we are in year 48.

The last housemates are Granada, the obvious winner; Carlton, the runner up; and the scattering of easily forgotten members Channel, Ulster and Scottish and Grampian, who have formed a strategic alliance.

So now You Decide. But here’s a clue.

The loser is the viewer. And when it’s all over, the ultimate loser is British culture. God knows who the winner is meant to be.

You Say

2 responses to this article

Des Elmes 13 December 2016 at 11:21 pm

May I make a (probably not very good) attempt to bring the story up to year 61?

Granada and Carlton formed their own strategic alliance in 2004, to the surprise of nobody.

Two years later, Scottish broke his own alliance with Grampian and evicted him. Again, nobody was surprised, although viewers in Aberdeen and Inverness were very disappointed.

Channel continued to entertain viewers in St Helier until 2011, when Granada and Carlton rather surprisingly – but perhaps inevitably – decided it was time for him to go.

Ulster had been popular with viewers in both parts of Ireland for years, and Granada and Carlton had no real desire to push him out. That changed in 2015, however, when Ulster made an ill-judged and rather needless attempt to reach out further to the viewers in the Republic.

And so we are down to just Granada, Carlton and Scottish. There’s no change to the situation from 2003, with Granada still the obvious winner and Carlton the runner-up. Scottish doesn’t have the clout to remove either, and isn’t interested in doing so anyway. Nor do Granada and Carlton have any desire to remove Scottish, and it is unlikely that he’ll make a mistake as big as Ulster’s.

British culture will still be the ultimate loser at the end of it all, however – especially if an American were to take over Big Brother’s duties. Indeed, it was claimed recently that a Philadelphia-based peacock lover, going by the name of Comcast, was thinking of doing just that…

Alex Macleod 4 January 2021 at 2:23 pm

Peter Davison as rediffusion London
Timothy Spall as ATV
Helen Worth as ABC
Ben Miller as Thames
Rhys ifans as HTV

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