Big Brother may be widely regarded as one of the world’s most successful reality TV formats that doesn’t mean things necessarily get easier at the top.
In a new report from UK television regulator Ofcom, it has been revealed that Big Brother is the most complained about British show of the decade. Well, a controversial episode of Celebrity Big Brother is, to be exact.
More than 25,000 people complained about an episode of last year’s Celebrity Big Brother on Viacom’s Channel 5, reports Deadline. The episode highlighted an incident where houseguest Roxanne Pallet alleged an assault by Ryan Thomas, a former star of UK hit Coronation Street.
Other complaints from the decade focused on shows like Loose Women, The X Factor, and of course, Love Island. Many popular reality shows topped the list and according to Ofcom, it may be due to a rise in social media commentary. In other words, young viewers are very motivated to share their opinion with regulators.
“People expect particular standards from TV and radio shows,” said Tony Close, Ofcom’s Director of Content Standards. “Quite rightly, they feel passionately about programmes and want to have their say. Ofcom’s job is to hear those views and protect the public from harmful and offensive content. Overwhelmingly, the most contentious programmes of the 2010s were either reality shows – like Love Island, Big Brother and The X Factor – or news and current affairs.”
“Why is that? One important reason might be the rise of social media over the decade. We know people like to discuss reality shows online,” he continued. “And in a time of political change, social media has also shaped increasingly passionate debate around news coverage. While the overall volume of complaints we receive about a programme is certainly a good indicator that it needs examining, it’s not necessarily a sign that broadcasting rules have been broken. For example, shows with large audiences often generate more complaints because more people are watching. And we don’t need to receive any complaints to step in if a programme breaks our rules.”
Reality TV is so popular because people love taking a peek into someone else’s life and in a way, live through them vicariously. An extension of that is the water-cooler discussion that comes afterwards.
It’s not at all surprising to see Big Brother topping the list of most complained about British shows of the decade. The show’s format inexplicitly brings with it drama and scandal but recently, these incidents seem to be escalating.
Big Brother hasn’t aired in the UK since 2018.