‘Celebrity’ Big Brother vindicates Nigel Kneale

The Year of the Sex Olympics

Anybody remember a 1968 programme called The Year of the Sex Olympics? Basic plot: population of the world starts to get out of control so the powers that be decide to keep the populace in check by beaming them pornography all day. But guess what? They get bored. There’s only so much porn people can watch before it gets a bit dull (take note Men and Motors). So the powers that be come up with a new idea: reality TV. Stick a family on an island and monitor them 24/7. Then, to really shake things up, stick a criminal on the island and see what happens. The result? People get glued to that all day instead.

It was a remarkably prophetic piece of television, albeit quite dull to watch, unlike the rest of writer Nigel Kneale’s output. What’s even more remarkable is Channel 4’s decision to compress The Year of the Sex Olympics’ plot and stick all its elements into one programme: Celebrity Big Brother.

So we have a bunch of dull people, aka ‘the family’ (Rula Lenska, Faria Alam, Preston Samuel, Maggot, Pete Burns and Chantelle the stooge), pornography (Jodie ‘glamour model’ Marsh, Traci ‘Baywatch’ Bingham) and criminals (well, alleged criminals Michael Barrymore and George Galloway as well as the definitely criminal Dennis Rodman), all stuck into handy half-hour segments for our exploitation/tranquillisation. How Brave New World of Channel 4. I guess our attention span ain’t what it used to be.

Even so, the irony is that given the complete Z-list nature of the ‘celebrities’, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a ratings flop. Our attention span really ain’t what it used to be and minor celebs just don’t aren’t enough any more.

Still, my prediction for the winner? Maggot. All of Wales will be voting for him. Let me know if I turn out to be right: I won’t be watching…