Five reasons why Channel 5 did Big Brother better

Channel 5's inaugural effort has been the best BB in ages, says Paul Jones - and here's why

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1. Big Brother’s Bit on the Side

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Davina was all Big Mouth and no trousers. Dermot and George had an annoying Little Brother you wanted to send off to play with power tools. But Emma Willis has a saucy Bit on the Side.

The name alone signalled Channel 5’s intention to be a bit racier than C4, but the companion show has never degenerated into what we might have feared from Team Desmond.

Instead, the increasingly pregnant Mrs Willis – losing none of her wit, energy or ability to wear six-inch heels as her baby bump grew to fill the screen – presided over a vibrant, fun offering that never took itself too seriously but managed to be smarter than any of its Channel 4 predecessors. And they got to swear with abandon, too. Which is both Big and clever.

2. Decent housemates

People will tell you that you need controversy to make a reality show entertaining, but I disagree. Some previous series of Big Brother have been reduced to bile fests (who wants another race row, for instance?) as Channel 4 wheeled in housemates ranging from the obnoxious to the apparently unhinged.

There’s been something to like about most of this year’s intake – and they’re not all the airheads some would like to assume, either. So when they clash it’s due to interesting differences rather than because they’re nasty idiots.

We’ve even had a couple of romances that might actually last, and you’ve gotta love love. Speaking of which…

3. Voting

None of this voting to get rid of people and then changing the rules for the final. Channel 5’s more positive spin sees people being kept in by love, not forced out by hate. You may now vomit…

4. Added value

What a stroke of quiet genius to have housemates’ names appear as captions on screen. How brilliantly elegant to insert flashbacks to past events as they’re being discussed (thereby demonstrating who is talking the biggest load of crap). And what a nice idea to let narrator Marcus Bentley off the leash, to add acerbic comments to his super-Geordified commentary. 

5. The eye

For me, the best logo yet echoes 5’s mission statement. Less pompous or arty than the various Channel 4 incarnations, the retro BB eye features a hint of kitsch in its colour scheme but otherwise keeps things simple and unpretentious. And the eyeball is undeniably human.  

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What have you thought of this series of Big Brother? Post a comment below – and vote for the housemate you want to win in our poll ahead of tonight’s live final.