/ 12 December 2006

Just a Big Bother

So it says in a list of Big Brother trivia supplied by the promoters. Not really something to boast about, is it? Whether South Africans will be equally caught up remains to be seen, but if the launch of the series was anything to go by, it will be a long and mostly really boring process.

Friends and family of the 12 final contestants and the media gathered last Sunday evening at the Big Brother premises in Randburg, collecting little flags to wave frenetically when prompted by the MC. ‘If we’re not live, you don’t have to scream,โ€ he told the crowd. I felt a bit like screaming all the time, but I might have frightened one of the many photographers jostling for space as if at the Oscars.

There we all stood waiting, with the same MC trying vainly to get the crowd to chant ‘Brother! Brother! Brother!โ€ at least once every five minutes. Oh, brother. We got to see how Eon de Vos trailed the Big Brother cavalcade from the hotel to the premises earlier by helicopter. Mark Pilgrim in his robe showed the inside of the house after it was handily cleansed by a sangoma (just in case we forgot this was the South African Big Brother). We saw short profiles of the contestants — who would have guessed that Margaret is bitchy but likes horses and that Steven has a thing for female Irish singers? Who would have cared?

The point is, for an hour nothing really happened. During the last 10 minutes the bewildered-looking stars-to-be, clutching their Peter Engblom-designed suitcases, were rushed up the red carpet by Pilgrim and an over-excited Gerry Rantseli —you’d think she were one of the lucky 12.

And nothing kept on happening all during day one — so much for the excitement that voyeurism is supposed to bring. They walked around. They looked at the vegetables. They ate. They sat. They did the dishes. ‘Look! That one’s sleeping! … No, wait, he’s moving his arm!โ€ One even showered nude! The shock! Will insomniacs benefit from watching the chosen ones sleep?

Seeing the weekly highlights will definitely be all you really need to do. Survivor long ago recognised that there simply aren’t enough exciting things to fill more than an hour’s worth of footage every three days or so — and that bunch had to survive and kill pigs and complain about soggy rice. The Big Brother gang probably won’t get up to much more than arguing about whose turn it is in the jacuzzi until the claustrophobia sets in during week four. Until then, turn on, tune in, nod off.