Big Brother is a popular reality television show which is filmed on the daily life and interaction of a group of people live together in a large house. The house is typically isolated from the outside world but monitored by television cameras 24X7. Each series of this show continues for almost three months with almost 15 participants who have to undergo periodic evictions. The main aim of the participants is to win the cash prize ultimately by avoiding the evictions.
It is believed that the idea of the show was originated at Dutch production house of John de Mol Produkties on 4 September 1997.
The first season of the Big Brother was broadcast in the Netherlands in 1999. The channel that did broadcast the show was the Veronica TV channel. The following year, it became a world-wide sensation and the rest is just history. The Big Brother show is regarded as a major prime-time hit in almost 70 countries.
It is said that the name of the show is inspired from George Orwell's 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four where which the Big Brother spies on the inhabitants of the dictatorship he leads through their television sets. The slogan was "Big Brother is watching you".
The general concept of Big Brother is that, the ‘housemates’ are confined to a house specially designed to record their every actions by cameras and microphones. The inmates of the house are also not allowed to contact the world outside.
The housemates are asked to nominate the members whom they want to be evicted from the house, generally, once weekly. There is usually one eviction per week but in some special episodes two housemates may be evicted simultaneously (a "double eviction"). The last housemate in the house, who survives all the evictions and remains in the house ultimately is declared the winner and win cash prize, a car, a vacation and in some editions in some countries, even a house too.
Seen from a sociological and psychological viewpoint, the Big Brother presents an analysis of the reactions of the people when they are forced to stay in a confinement with people who are lying outside their comfort zone. The people do not know each other really well and have different opinions from each other. The viewers of the show have the opportunity to see how a person reacts outside to such conditions and also to know the inner feelings of the contestants through the Diary Room/Confession Room. Often there are angry confrontations or romantic interludes which are the fodder of entertainment to the public. The main highlights of the show are:
In the first season of Big Boss, the house where the contestants lived had only the basic amenities like running water, furniture and a limited ration of food were provided. Luxury items were forbidden in the Big Brother house. The show reflected the survivalist element, which was the highlight of the show and the potential of social tension was seen to rise in the house. However in the later seasons, the house that was provided to the contestants was much modern with a jacuzzi, sauna, VIP suite, loft and other luxuries.
However, the housemates are always asked to share the household work and also complete tasks set by the producers of the show. These tasks test the teamwork abilities and community spirit of the housemates. The shopping budget of the housemates and the weekly allowance with which they can buy food and other essentials is dependent on the results of the outcome of the given tasks.
The housemates are asked to nominate a fellow housemate/housemates in the Diary Room/Confession Room whom they want to see evicted from the house.
After the eviction, the evictee leaves the house and then, he is interviewed live by the host of the show, usually in front of a studio audience.
Though the Big Brother show faced a lot of criticism from time to time, it has been a commercial success around the world. Viewers tend to remain glued to their couch because of the voyeuristic nature of the show where the contestants share their privacy and personal life to the world in lieu of the cash prize. The idea itself of selling one’s privacy in lieu of a small celebrity status and a monetary reward is itself scornful to many viewers, but still they like to watch it. There have been instances where the participants in various series of Big Brother have engaged in sexual intercourse even in front of Big Brother's cameras. Though because of their explicit nature, the Australian and American editions of Big Brother do not broadcast it, it is broadcast in German and British versions. The Internet stream also captures and lets out these explicit staffs on the web; however, this has led jurisdictions such as Greece to take steps to remove the show from the airwaves.