Sunday 4th of September and my much anticipated visit to Elstree studios to be part of the audience for Channel 5’s Big Brother spin off programme, Big Brothers Bit on the side, or as it will be known for ever more as, BBBOTS.
I was lucky enough to have been sorted out tickets for me and my good lady wife by one of my friends on Twitter (@Giwwy) and I was very excited to see behind the scenes of this new show.
As a veteran of Channel fours Big Brothers big Mouth I was interested to see how the two shaped up against each other.
We arrived early evening and after getting a bite to eat we stood in the queue (at the front like a loser) and waited for one of the production team to come out and collect us. There were not that many of us there, probably no more than fifteen people, and I started to wonder how they would manage to fill the audience with such a tiny amount of us. As it turned out I would have my answer a bit later on and a surprising one it was.
After chatting to a few of the others standing outside I quickly realised that the majority of them (all) were here to support big Brother 11 winner Josie Gibson. I know that was the main reason I was there, and I wondered where all the Jamie East fans were………….
A member of the production team (who will remain nameless for legal reasons) came out to collect us at about 7.30pm and led us to a small bar area just to the right of the security box outside the studio. I was struck by how quiet the place was when there was not an eviction taking place. Having been before the previous times on eviction nights I was used to hundreds of screaming people waiting outside to go and take their place in the live audience. The room/hut we were taken into had a few seats and tables and a bar area and had the smell of an old charity shop, one person said it smelled of mothballs. I would have to take her word for that but it didn’t smell to ‘fresh’ we sat down and introduced ourselves to each other and I was happy to be among a lot of Josie’s main fans. We filled out our disclaimer forms and then went to the bar to get some drinks. These were free and there was no limit to the amount we could have drunk. On BBBM we were given drink tickets and could only use these to exchange for drinks. Channel 5 did not seem so worried about the potential for disaster that 20-30 drunken people could cause. As it turned out it didn’t matter as everyone was very sensible.
After about 10-15 minutes who should turn up than none other than Josie Gibson herself!! She spent about half an hour mingling with everyone and was only too happy to pose for pictures and had so much time for everyone in the place. She was looking amazing and had obviously been working very hard on her figure. I have to say that for me she is now looking an ideal size and I would hope she didn’t lose any more weight. She was wearing a lovely black lacy top and jeans topped off with a pair of beautiful multi-coloured shoes. I had my picture taken and got a very big hug from her. She was genuinely pleased to see everyone and showed us all why she was such a deserving winner of the previous Big Brother series. After she had spoken to everyone who wanted to speak to her and done all the photos that were wanted she went off to prepare for the show.
We did a quick quiz which revolved around previous big Brother shows and contestants (in which my team came a stunning second place out of four) and then got ourselves ready to go over to the studio proper and take our seats. At this point I again looked around at the few people who were there and wondered how they would fill the spaces on the stage. Josie’s driver was asked if he wanted to sit in and he agreed. The funny thing was that up until about twenty minutes before the start of the show there did not appear to be any Jamie East fans in attendance at all….. I did catch a glimpse of him through the window of the hut door on the phone pacing up and down and shortly after that three guys arrived who were quite blatantly there to support the aforementioned Mr @Holymoly himself. We stood at the door and the production guy asked us who was there to support Josie? Cue huge cheer. Then he asked who was there to support Jamie………Not a peep, even from his mates. It was quite funny and all taken in good spirit.
Into the studio and we all got seated. They spread us about pretty thin and we only just managed to fill the seats available. The studio itself was a lot bigger than the old BBBM studio and the set design and construction was of a far higher quality. We actually had cushions to sit on and not the painted plywood jobbies we had on Big Mouth which caused your bum to go totally numb after about ten minutes. The guests arrived and were introduced as they did.
First to sit was the lovely Michelle Heaton who at 5 months pregnant was glowing and looked absolutely stunning. She is also tiny!!! Then Josie came and sat next to her quickly followed by her competitors, Jamie and the lovely Lauren Harries. I can say now, with no shame at all that TV does nothing for Ms Harries and she looks a lot better in the flesh than she does on the telebox. She and Josie had swapped jewellery backstage and they all seemed to get on really well. Finally the host for the show, Alice Levine took her seat. I had noticed that there were a lot of gingers working on the show. A couple of the floor team were and obviously the host herself is. This can only be down to JK Rowling and her Stirling work at getting gingers into the public eye and making us* into media icons.
30 seconds to go until we went live. Floor manager and director give us a quick pep talk and then we are off. The theme music roles and we erupt into whoops and cheers as the camera swings into action.
Now, I am not going to go into huge detail about the show itself (the aired bits anyway as I am sure you all watched it anyway……. The only thing I will mention is the role of ex BB contestant Kemal who seemed to be on everyone’s case (except for Josie and Michelle) from her very first utterance. She was there to do the scores and made some very catty comments at both Alice and Jamie. It appeared it was only those two who were the target of her anger. I can reveal that there was nothing said during the breaks by any party to each other and all of it seemed very much geared for on air only. Rumours that it was all a reaction to comments that Jamie had made about Kemals friend Narinder cannot be confirmed but my sources assure me that it was all over Twitter. I could not see any other reason for the verbal sparring unless something had happened backstage.
The show was very well run by the productions staff and floor staff and there was no hint of any trouble during the filming of the show. It ran like clockwork. Everyone was very friendly and we were treated really well. I actually enjoyed the whole experience more than BBBM, even though we had no interaction or input into the show other than shouting ‘More’ or ‘Less’ during one part of the show.
I am going to try to get onto one of the weekly BBBOTS shows as you can be a bit more vocal and get an opinion across on there. I have already noticed quite a few Big Mouth veterans on the weekly shows and one or two who seem to be show regulars and appear more than the host herself in some cases!!
11pm and it was all over. We were thanked for our time and for being ‘such a great audience’ which is probably what they say to all of them. It was however a really good night and I still find myself watching this spin off show more than the actual Big Brother show itself. That is sure to change this Thursday when the NEW and REAL big Brother starts up. I have always been a bigger fan of the original show and didn’t really like the CBB version as the ‘Housemates’ already know how the medium works and how to work the viewer at home. I can’t wait for the real show to start and to get stuck into the next lot of Brian Dowling and Josie Gibson wannabes.
If you want to apply for tickets for the show then email firstname.lastname@example.org
I am due to be on BBBOTS again on the 18th of September so keep an eye out for me. I’ll be the one clapping enthusiastically as close to the guests as I can possibly get without sitting on their laps.
*I am an Ex Ginger and my hair changed colour all of its own accord when I was 10yrs old. I still have a lot of love for the gingers out there.
Much love, whether you’re a ginger or not.