WITH less than two weeks completed in the Big Brother III household, the show has already found itself facing some curious and unprecedented dramas. For starters – and with all sorts of consequences for parties outside the house itself – there was the very public revelation of 43-year-old personal shopper, Sandy.
By Debbie Watson
WITH less than two weeks completed in the Big Brother III household, the show has already found itself facing some curious and unprecedented dramas.
For starters – and with all sorts of consequences for parties outside the house itself – there was the very public revelation of 43-year-old personal shopper, Sandy.
The oldest of the housemates, Sandy commented during the early stages of the new show that he had a daughter.
It was an announcement that caused a stir in the "outside world" because it emerged that his child (17-year-old Amy Cummings) had not seen him for many years – and obviously had no clue that her father was a contestant on the show as she sat watching it at home.
Amy's mother confirmed the admission to her daughter and the couple have since been inundated with questions from the press.
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Clearly no-one could have foreseen this dramatic start to the show – and of course, it does go a long way towards boosting interest in the programme (which it must be said has been sorely lacking so far!).
But, in reality, has the "game" gone too far when it pours out into the day-to-day lives of those in the "real world"? Will Sandy's revelation have a potentially heart-rending effect on this unsuspecting teenager?
"That was really a very awful way for someone to discover the truth about their own life," said counselling psychologist, Lilian Power.
"It's a very destructive way for that child to learn the revelation and there's no doubt that it is a serious down-side to this "reality TV", if it can affect someone in the outside world like this."
Lilian, who is based in Bramford and admits that she has been fascinated by the televised insight into personal relationships, added: "There is no doubt that reality TV often goes too far in what it does, but there's something very addictive about it which makes people want to keep on following it.
"We like the fact that we can judge people and pass opinions on real people without getting come-back.
"Big Brother is almost encouraging us to form 'surrogate relationships' with the people on the inside and we can say what we like about them, while feeling that we are getting to know them."
She added: "Reality TV plays on the fact that we are very curious about human relationships by nature.
"Right from the days of Princess Margaret and Captain Townsend – and then with the life of Princess Diana – we have always shown that we are really keen to know about the interactions of other people. Big Brother follows on from that type of mentality."
The other revelation to have rocked the predictable daily happenings of the Big Brother household has been the shock departure of Sunita.
Within five days of the new show it transpired that the 25-year-old was simply not happy.
In privacy, she confessed to Big Brother that she was unsure about her future in the household. She admitted that she felt claustrophobic and as if she didn't fit in.
The trainee barrister certainly seemed to get off on the wrong foot.
By day two she had had a bust-up with fellow housemate Jade, and had said: "You're too young and you don't listen."
Just 24 hours later she was seen to have cross words with Alex after he dared to criticise her for not seeming to be "participating" with the group.
By day six Sunita's mind was made up.
Despite efforts by fellow female housemates to change her mind, she was convinced it was a time to leave. "This is not a spur of the moment decision," she said. "It is not a reflection on anyone here."
Clearly, without being inside that house and under constant public scrutiny, it is really very difficult to judge Sunita's decision, and to understand how she might have felt.
However, it is quite apparent that this enforced social "isolation" must be tough in the initial stages. Depending on a person's personality type, it must prove a very difficult challenge.
"It is obviously a very stressful experience in the house, and we are clearly seeing all the dynamics of human stress being portrayed by the various housemates," commented Lilian.
"There is a very extraordinary situation of not allowing people to read and I imagine for someone like Sunita that must have proved very difficult.
"She is a person who is very bright and was being deprived of the capacity to use her brain fully. That must have been tough.
"I imagine that Sunita is also someone who does enjoy her private space," she added.
"No matter how much the Big Brother idea might have seemed to be a fun concept to an outside viewer, she obviously discovered that it's really very different when you're in there for real."
Lilian insists that there is only one clear quality which marks out a potential Big Brother winner. "Quite simply, I think you have to be very confident," she said. "You need to be confident and you need to not care too much about what the eventual outcome is.
"We saw that in several previous housemates, including last year's winner Brian – he really was just having fun. He wasn't too bothered if he was the final housemate or not."
She added: "We also saw that confidence and 'don't care' attitude in housemate Anna from the year before. Although she didn't win, she did show the great confidence necessary to succeed."
In the light of Sunita's exit – making her the first housemate in the British show to have walked of her own free will – Big Brother's latest decision is that a new resident will now be entered into the family.
A similar scenario occurred in the very first show when Nasty Nick was asked to leave – but will it be even tougher on new entrant, Sophie, given that social relationships have already begun to form?
"Sophie has the advantage of being a fresh face in the house and bringing something new to the group. It will help her to feel accepted in the early stages because the housemates will be keen to have some new spirit in the house." said Lillian.
"However, she is bound to create some sort of hostility at the same time. Her presence will change the pecking order and we have already seen that she is feeling the need to vocally establish herself in the midst of other
relationships and companionships."
The first planned exit has seen 36-year-old Lynne voted out of the house.
To have two of the original team missing at this early stage may be unusual, but it could also encourage the other housemates to form tighter bonds. Over and above that, it might also be the source of drama which encourages the viewing public to start getting as gripped by Big Brother III as it did by last time's show.
"There are some people who will remain immune to Big Brother throughout the entire events of these latest housemates, but there are a lot more who will become steadily more addicted as the weeks go by." said Lilian
"It has that hold over us because of our incredible curiosity about other people – though I imagine we'll grow tired of it if the concept keeps getting repeated every year."
And does Lilian believe that we should be growing tired of it?
"Well, I certainly think that any amount of intrusion into personal lives is a concern," she said. "I hope we do get tired of Big Brother and what it stands for – we need to claim back our private worlds as being exactly that: private!"