Eight reasons the papal conclave is like Big Brother

If you're starting to feel as if this whole papal conclave thing seems a bit familiar, then relax. You have definitely seen it before. No, not in any of the previous papal conclaves that have taken place with the same rigid formality over the course of 800 years, but in an episode of Big Brother. They're basically the same thing.

Stick with me here. The similarities between the selection of the new pope and an average series of Big Brother are endless. In fact, without wanting to sound disrespectful in any way, there's a pretty good chance that, as we speak, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of Naples is angrily interrupting a tops-off hot-tub party between Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo of Ranchi and Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw to find out who put a fried egg in his knicker draw. Need proof of these similarities?

1 The format
The key to the long-running success of both the papal conclave and Big Brother is the fascination with what happens to strangers when they spend long periods of time cooped up with each other. Admittedly the three months of Big Brother is a lot longer than the conclave, but the themes are roughly the same. Will they get along? Who will form alliances? Who'll be the first to get drunk and embarrass themselves? Will anyone fall in love?

2 Outside communication
Both Big Brother and the papal conclave are incredibly sensitive about contact with the outside world. As with Big Brother, the conclave attendees will be regularly checked for mobile phones and recording equipment. And little wonder. Nobody wants a repeat of that time Nasty Nick snuck a pencil in behind everyone's back. Talk about a nightmare.

3 Contestants
Like the conclave, the Big Brother house tends to attract a certain type of person. In fact, if you're a slightly sinister eccentric with a fondness for silly clothes and an aggravated sense of self-worth, then you should get in touch with the Big Brother production team or the Roman Catholic church.

4 Likely winners
As with Big Brother, guessing who will win is a mug's game. Presumably the cardinals are all following the traditional Big Brother voting tactics – first getting rid of the mad ones, then the loud ones, then the ones who seem a bit slutty, then the ones who keep using too much margarine – before finally deciding to settle for the quiet one who nobody noticed until right before the end and doesn't really seem like they'd upset the apple cart very much.

5 Set design
Admittedly the conclave has it a little grander here. The cardinals are being put up in comfortable guesthouse quarters inside the Vatican, with voting taking place beneath Michelangelo's fresco of the Last Judgment, whereas the Big Brother house basically tends to be a manky chipboard show home that someone's daubed a load of eyes over – but at least the Big Brother housemates get to confess their sins in a diary room. Who are the cardinals going to confess to? The only person more important than them has just quit his job.

6 Spin-off shows
Big Brother has the UK Big Brother's Bit on the Side, presented by Emma Willis, while the conclave has every single news organisation on the face of the planet running an endless stream of interviews and speculation that could last up to a month.

7 Live streaming
Big Brother hasn't had round-the-clock streaming for years now, which is a disappointment for everyone who liked falling asleep watching night-vision footage of strangers falling asleep in real time. But in an act of unbelievable generosity, the conclave has a livestream this year. Admittedly it's a livestream of a chimney, and the most that's ever going to happen is that some smoke will eventually come out of it, but it's a start.

8 The prize
And, of course, there are the riches afforded to the winner. Whoever becomes the new pope will find himself in a position of almost limitless power as the earthly head of the Roman Catholic church. He'll get to see the whole world, albeit behind a sheet of bulletproof glass, and 1.2-billion believers will hang upon his every word until the day he dies. But then again, the winner of Big Brother will probably release a fitness DVD and have a ghostwritten column in a magazine. It's hard to say which of these we should be more envious of.

As thousands waited in a cold night rain in St Peter's Square, the cardinals signalled on Tuesday they had failed on their first attempt to find a leader for the world's 1.2-billion Catholics and their troubled church. – Guardian News and Media 2013

Advertisting

‘There were no marks on his neck’, Neil Aggett inquest...

The trade unionist’s partner at the time he was detained at John Vorster Square says she now believes his death was not a suicide

We need to ask awkward questions about our schools

Ignore the language used in brochures and on open days and be vigilant about the details

Study unpacks the ‘hidden racism’ at Stellenbosch

Students say they feel unseen and unheard at the university because of their skin colour

Ramaphosa enters the fray in fight between Gordhan and Mkhwebane

The president said his court case is “unfortunate” and a “measure of last resort”
Advertising

Press Releases

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

MTN unveils TikTok bundles

Customised MTN TikTok data bundles are available to all prepaid customers on *136*2#.

Marketers need to reinvent themselves

Marketing is an exciting discipline, offering the perfect fit for individuals who are equally interested in business, human dynamics and strategic thinking. But the...

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.

KZN teacher educators jet off to Columbia University

A group of academics were selected as participants of the programme focused on PhD completion, mobility, supervision capacity development and the generation of high-impact research.

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.