You might think that Celebrity Big Brother should have been buried in a very deep hole along with the final episode of Lost and England’s hopes of ever winning a major football tournament at the end of the noughties – but love it or hate it… it still pulls in the punters.
OK, it doesn’t attract the 6 or 7 million for the launch show that the programme once did on Channel 4 in its heyday – but that said, 3.4 million viewers (15% share) for the opening exchanges of CBB 13 on Friday night proves the show still has legs on Channel 5 – some might even say it’s an inspired purchase by the commercial channel.
The numbers are up on the August edition of the show (as you would expect) and only a little down on last year’s January run of the programme despite increasing competition.
Yes, CBB has to work a little harder than it used to for its punters in a world where every other show sees celebrities doing something far more energetic and exciting than just sitting in a house. (See Tom Daley’s Splash! tonight, and Channel 4’s upcoming The Jump; where Anthea Turner will face off against Tara Palmer Tomkinson at ski jumping in Austria. Alan Partridge, have you spoken to your lawyers?)
But CBB seems equal to the challenge.
The bookers have been working overtime for the 2014 run to attract a line-up that not only contains names that you don’t need an encyclopaedia of 80s pop music to recognise – but who potentially will clash at every juncture for our entertainment.
The added twist of modelling the whole house on the set of Eyes Wide Shut, and handcuffing unlikely pairings together (Liz Jones and Dappy from N Dubz/ Jim Davidson and, anyone) offers just enough ritual humiliation of the celebs to ensure the Great British public get their pound of flesh from the series.
Emma Willis’s almost seamless transition into Davina 2.0 (let’s forget the Brian Dowling thing ever happened) gives CBB 13 all the factors it needs to hold the best part of two million people for the next three weeks. (And of course keep the Daily Star’s front pages filled with gossip and titillation)
As long as it can do this – Channel 5 (and their advertisers) will stay happy… and just like many of the other regular reality shows we say “must” be ready to die (X Factor and BGT, recently signed for 3 more years on ITV) – it will stay with us for many series to come.
Remember, before you write it off… it’s not just Big Brother watching you – plenty of people are still watching him.
Tim Glanfield is editor of RadioTimes.com & digital products