15 years ago this Summer I was one of millions of others obsessed with Big Brother series 3. That year we were treated to Alex Sibley being sarcastically hilarious, the poor/rich house divide, Spencer as the bloke all the women fancied and of course, the late Jade Goody just being Jade Goody.
For me, that series was one of the best. It was in an age long before the invention of social media. The tasks were fun and relatively inoffensive. Everything felt organic. You didn’t have an abundance of fame seekers looking for their next product to promote (#spon). If the housemates said they were in it for the experience (and of course the prize money) you believed them.
The early ‘Noughties’ Big Brother series’ were a fun watch. Witnessing strangers thrown together with no outside contact for a whole Summer was compelling viewing. Compelling and compulsive. Every day the papers were bursting with revelations, the coverage was huge.
Viewing figures were incredible. An average of 5 million watching throughout Series 3, with a peak of over 10 million watching the final episode. Producers could only dream of getting a tenth of that with the current series.
I haven’t watched the ‘civilian’ Big Brother for years. I think the last series I watched in its entirety was Big Brother 2007, when Brian Belo scooped the prize money. I watched it in and out over the subsequent years before officially turning my back on it in 2010. I’ll still watch the Celebrity version of the franchise, depending on who the Z Listers are entering the infamous house.
One show I can’t imagine turning my back on, for love nor money is Love Island. The hugely successful, addictive ITV2 series.
I didn’t watch the first series in 2015. I obsessively watched the second series in 2016 and that obsession has continued as we hurtle past the half way point of the current series.
In fact, dare I say it, I think this series might even be better than the last. Something I couldn’t imagine admitting during the first week.
Scores of celebrities have thrown their support behind the much talked about show. Liam Gallagher preferred it to Glastonbury, Holly Willoughby is as obsessed as I am and I’m A Celeb winner; Scarlett Moffatt has confessed it’s her life at the moment.
There’s no escape. Love Island is LIFE for many.
And I get it. I really get the obsession, and that’s not just because I have a penchant for all things Reality TV.
Love Island has it all. It’s got something for everyone. Fit model types, fun, humour, romance, sex, ruthlessness, stupidity, competition and where I believe Big Brother is going wrong; innocence.
OK, you probably read that with a look of bemusement upon your face but hear or rather read me out before you think my senses have taken leave.
Yes, the Islanders are having sex on TV, albeit under the covers or in the toilet (we’ve all done it, don’t pretend you haven’t) but for me, it’s not done in an overtly smutty way. Sex aside, there’s no violence. No dramatic fall outs where the producers have to apologise for offensive language or scenes of an offensive nature. There’s the right balance of manipulation which makes the Islanders squirm (for our viewing pleasure of course) without going too far that it becomes uncomfortable.
We, the viewers, are allowed to watch the relationships grow. Some of us may be able to see ourselves in some of the Islanders. Women across the country have expressed sympathy with Camilla’s situation and understood how it feels to be dumped by a bloke for another girl. We’ve all been there love, we feel you.
Viewers have championed Montana finding her perfect match and rejoiced when she finally found him in Alex. We’ve loved trying to work out who is the snake, who is the game player and who is staying true to themselves at all times (Marcel; we love you). And I can’t be alone in thinking Chris was channelling his inner David Brent during his first few days on the island. He brought me too many laughs and too many Brent similarities.
For me, Love Island has been the Reality TV success story of the year. The producers must be rubbing their hands with glee. Meanwhile, with calls for Big Brother to be axed for good, I can imagine the producers are looking to the Love Island format and hoping to take pointers from their success and using them to their future advantage.
Long live Love Island. It’s 100% my type on paper.