Is Big Brother becoming too much like the novel it was based on? For a television show that claims so frequently to involve its audience, Big Brother seems to be slowly silencing its fans – all except the ones who pay 55 cents for their ‘right’ to voice themselves.

I’m talking of course about the online Big Brother community – a community you would presume a necessity for the audience-participation TV format. But no: as the webmaster of Big Brother fan site Behind Big Brother for the last four years I have seen the unofficial online aspect of the show dwindle and die at the hands of Big Brother’s production company.

Most recently my own fan site has been the victim of the fan-gag (although not the first attempt by Endemol Southern Star to shut it down). For those unfamiliar with Behind Big Brother, it is similar to Crikey in terms of critique (of the show), but also deals with rumours and unearthing show details before they happen. Lately we’ve adopted more of a negative attitude towards the show and last year gained mainstream exposure for focusing on a T-shirt sales group becoming involved with the show to benefit one contestant.

After that incident, the Big Brother producers became aggravated with us, to say the least; and last week (at least one month before the season starts) moved to have us shut down. The problem was our users talking about show auditions and audition details on our forums outside their contracts.

In the past when Big Brother has had a problem with our content they sent the usual complaint letter requesting content removal or apology etc. Not so this time. Perhaps they are sick of dealing with us. This time they went straight to our web host and demanded the entire website be removed, without any notice to me or any other Behind Big Brother administrator.

Put in a legal predicament, my host deleted the site.

Read the full account of Big Brother’s heavyhandedness on the site here: http://www.crikey.com.au/articles/2005/03/005-0001-1656.html