To producer Alex Mavroidakis, the show trumps all others in the Reality genre, a nightly soap with a competitive, social experiment.
If the truth lays somewhere in between then it’s up to him to select hours of footage into a compelling hour of narrative television each night.
This year’s series has its own set of challenges, including a later timeslot and lower ratings, which have attracted some criticism. But according to Mavroidakis, he has no shortage of storylines to choose from.
“We have a very outspoken cast this year. From Day One they have gone kaboom. They’re delivering us 3 or 4 storylines a day, which is actually too many, believe it or not,” he tells TV Tonight.
“We’re struggling to tell a cohesive story because there’s too much bloody going on.
“With the greatest of respect to all the other reality shows, you know there’s going to be singing and then a winner; you know there’s going to be renovating and then a winner; you know there’s going to be cooking and then a winner.
“Who the hell know what’s going to happen on Big Brother? We know there will be a winner but god knows what else will happen in the meantime.”
This week’s ‘Hotel’ task has seen division amongst the show’s veritable love-nest, which is just what it was intended to do.
“I feel the cast is just settling down and delivering,” he suggests.
“I really liked the first couple of nights of the series. I thought it worked really well with the pairs and the way we did our launch show, particularly. We were trying to get away from the traditional way the housemates came in one at a time.”
The later timeslot has also created its own subtle shift. In the younger Demos, the show continues to win.
“They’re the ones who keep us alive: that 500,000 people who will watch us whether we’re on at 4:00 in the morning or 7:00 at night. They will keep BB alive. They’re still with us and as long as we’ve got them, we’re laughing,” he explains.
“If Channel Nine want us on at 8:40 we will deliver at 8:40. If they want us at midnight we will deliver at midnight.
“There are more people between the ages of 16-39 watching BB than The X Factor and it starts an hour and ten minutes later and finishes at 10:00 at night. There are more people between the ages of 16 – 54 watching BB than Dancing with the Stars. There are 100,000 people a day Timeshifting BB. There are 100,000 a day watching BB on JumpIn.
“I can’t comment for Nine but if I had my way, and obviously I’m biased, BB would be on 7 days a week at 7:30. But I’m not a Programmer and I’m not stupid enough to bite the hand that feeds me. I have massive respect for Channel 9 for taking a major punt on a show that had a flawed brand 3 years ago.
“But of course if you asked if I’d rather have a consistent timeslot then the answer is Yes.”
Romance continues to dominate, as the story driver it has always been since its first season in 2001.
“We cast the house completely and utterly on personalities. But we are not making a big deal of the fact that Travis and Aisha are spending every waking moment together, because romance is not the big thing of Big Brother. It’s the day to day living, the social experiment, it’s conflict.
“Cat and Lawson and interesting because there’s a third party and they’re so remorseful. A love triangle will always be of interest,” he says.
“Our job as producers is to tell the story of the house. That’s what’s going on. There’s plenty of conflict and plenty of passion.”
On the question of casting, Mavroidakis says he always looks for older housemates during the annual audition tour, but there are inherent problems in finding them and having them commit.
“In an absolute perfect world you would probably have 2 in their 40s, 6 or 7 in their 30s and 6 or 7 in their 20s,” he insists.
“We saw maybe one stand-out person over the age of 35 on the tour, but traditionally on Big Brother as soon as you put in one person who is 40 plus they stand out like dog’s balls. They never have a chance and they’re the first ones out.
“They need to want to be there. But people with big mortgages, big jobs, big families, say they want to be there but when you get down to the final 20 or 30 people and you say ‘You’re about to leave your kids, your $150,000 job, your husband for 3 months’ they say ‘This is not for me.’
“Would I make any changes? Absolutely but I would have done last year and the year before as well.”
Next week a female Intruder will enter the series. Unlike current Intruder Leo, she will have seen the series on air.
“The rules of Intruders are that they absolutely can’t discuss anything that’s happened since the show’s started. But more importantly the rules of the housemate is they can’t ask,” he continues.
“So the onus is on them.”
I also ask Mavroidakis to talk me through the strategy of the first eviction, in which Gemma’s ‘schoolyard-pick’ eviction was branded as ‘bullying.’
“It’s exactly the same as getting fired in the Boardroom on The Apprentice or Tribal Council on Survivor. Gemma is potentially the most dramatic housemate we’ve had, potentially, for years. She wouldn’t have gone any other way and she didn’t give a shit (about it).
“Our plan was always to do a face to face eviction to break up the pairs. It was always going to be a one-off as a stunt to launch the series.
“I’d do it again tomorrow, no problem. If people are talking about Big Brother then we’re doing alright. As soon as they stop talking about it, we’re in big trouble.
“That to me was Reality Television. These people sign up to win $250,000. It’s not a holiday camp. It’s about putting them into uncomfortable situations and asking questions with people they’re uncomfortable with.
“We absolutely want the fun and entertainment, that is our currency, but without a bit of gristle it’s very bland meat.”
Big Brother airs Sundays -Fridays on Nine.