New hosts Kyle Sandilands and sidekick Jackie O should have been more honest in their effusive welcome to last night’s opening to season eight of Big Brother.

They should have used the phrase “freak show” at some point, surely the most accurate of all the possible phrases that might describe the 14 housemates, (soon to be 13, the first eviction should have been decided by sunrise today).

The idea is clearly to attract viewers back by whatever means possible. The 14 housemates last night were a rotten collection, full of sterotypes: a midget woman, a black woman, three young women with large breasts, one a ditzy blonde, a barmaid, a 53 year old gran, a young Japanese man, probably one or two gay people and a former member of the Exclusive Brethren. There was little to recommend any of them.

A cross-section of younger Australia? No. A representation of the audience of Kyle and Jackie O’s Sydney radio show? Perhaps. 

The producers at Endemol Southern Star, now linked to Fairfax Media, should hang their heads in shame. And speaking of Fairfax, Big Brother will be a test of editorial independence for the Fairfax newspaper and radio stable. Will the ‘respectable’ broadsheets, the Melbourne Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, stoop to get their hands dirty in publicising BB, or will they sneer and call it tacky? Will Fairfax Media management allow any sneering?

For the Ten Network Big Brother worked: a launch audience in a different format last night averaged 1.511 million viewers, including the highest audience on the night for any market of 487,000 in Sydney. It was the most popular program in all demographics, including 25 to 54. As expected only the over 50s didn’t like it. But the audience was down on last year’s figure by around 2.5%, with small losses across most demos.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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