Germany planning never-ending Big Brother
29 October 2004 , HAMBURG - Big Brother could be never ending in a new version of the reality TV show planned in Germany. Instead of candidates living for several weeks inside a container complex, German media reports say producers of the show are building a small town of about 4,000 square kilometres complete with market square, church, shops, workplaces and a small wood. Contestants will be able to live in the town for decades, study or go to work, get married, have families and go about their everyday
29 October 2004
HAMBURG - Big Brother could be never ending in a new version of the reality TV show planned in Germany.
Instead of candidates living for several weeks inside a container complex, German media reports say producers of the show are building a small town of about 4,000 square kilometres complete with market square, church, shops, workplaces and a small wood.
Contestants will be able to live in the town for decades, study or go to work, get married, have families and go about their everyday lives - in fact theoretically stay in their artificial world until they die.
The planned show has drawn comparisons with the 1998 Hollywood film "The Truman Show" starring Jim Carrey who is unwittingly the subject of a 24-hour television "reality" show.
Production firm Endemol is planning to launch the new Big Brother version in February or March next year in what company chief executive Boris Brandt describes as similar to a soap series but "in real, with real people".
Although reports speak of a town, Brandt indicated the company was merely putting up a few buildings on a site near Cologne.
However candidates could live in the community for decades, being followed 24 hours a day by at least 100 cameras, more than 100 microphones - and probably millions of German viewers.
Candidates will be several groups of young unemployed people who will be expected to live normal lives, catch up on studies they missed at school, learn languages, take professional examinations and work either at the Big Brother site or outside.
Additional "reality" will come from extras acting as residents of the town. But the personal dramas, sex lives and the everyday human conflicts and dilemmas, which are grist to the mill of Big Brother fans, will provide the ingredients most expected from the candidates to keep the ratings up.
"Big Brother viewers want more reality and less artificiality and that's what we want to give them," Brandt is quoted as saying.
The show - provisionally titled Big Brother Forever - will continue the latest Big Brother series currently running on RTL2, with its remaining contestants being offered the chance of going straight into the purpose-built town.
The planned new format has already come in for criticism, with media psychologist Jo Groebel saying there was a risk of candidates not being able to return to the real world.
No candidate can possibly know what it is like to live for many years in an artificial world, he said.
The news also comes after the current Big Brother show came in for criticism for showing a candidate telling anti-Semitic jokes.
Bavarian premier Edmund Stoiber criticised the growth of TV reality shows, telling a media conference in Munich they were were "contributing to the disorientation of children and young people". The broadcasting of anti-Semitic jokes was "an especially serious mistake" in what currently passed for entertainment, he said.
Big Brother producer Rainer Laux has, however, rejected worries about the planned new show, saying every Big Brother candidate knew by now what to expect.
"You could make this criticism before the first series, but not during the fifth," he said.
The anti-Semitic jokes should not have been allowed to go out, he conceded, but added that no one should be seriously surprised.
The residents of the Big Brother container merely mirror what is happening in society, "and extreme rightwing talk is unfortunately not uncommon", he said.
In The Truman Show, Carrey plays salesman Truman Burbank who discovers that his entire life is actually a TV show. When he tries to escape his surreal world, the producers won't let him.
Candidates for Big Brother Forever might be advised to check the small print on their contracts.
Subject: German news