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Is Big Brother no longer a true reality show?

Comedian Ricky Gervais has taken aim at how “contrived” Big Brother has become.


A regular viewer of the Channel 5 series, Ricky claims the show is “not even reality anymore”.

Speaking at a talk at Oxford Union (via the Daily Mirror), the Extras star claimed programmes like Big Brother and X Factor had become “so contrived”.

“From X Factor in the preliminary rounds when they wheel out the mentally ill to be sniggered at by millionaires, we’re a part of that,” the actor said. “People having proper nervous breakdowns in Big Brother, we’re all part of that.

“That’s what drama is, when it’s real, it’s conflict.”

X Factor 2017 judges
X Factor 2017 judges

Ricky went on: “We don’t want to watch 12 people sitting around having a nice conversation. We want a fist fight.

“It appeals to the worst of our instincts, I think.”


He continued: “It’s not even reality anymore, it’s so contrived. Now they condense it, they contrive situations, there’s no real reality shows anymore.

“It’s aimed to appeal at our voyeuristic tendencies, and we’re all guilty of it.”

Both Big Brother and The X Factor have suffered with ratings slumps in recent years.

Right now Big Brother’s future in particular looks to be in doubt past 2018, after almost two decades on air.

Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival back in August, Channel 5’s current boss Ben Frow spoke candidly about the show’s potential.

Big Brother 2016’s summer eye

“We’re going to have a discussion about it. I need to know, like I would with any commission, what are the plans for the future? How will it be creatively renewed? How is it still important to me?” he explained.


He added: “It’s a very established brand, a very successful brand but there’s a big shiny new show on the block called Love Island.

“We need to take a good long look at Big Brother and go what does it look like for the future?”