“Too many” stories says Big Brother producer

Sonia KrugerTo non-viewers, Big Brother is nothing more than vacuous attention-seekers in a boring Reality series.

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.

27 Comments:

  1. Have to agree this is the only ‘reality’ show worth watching (2nd only to Coach Trip – miss that a lot). Despite the stunts and the prize money it’s real people with all their grotesque dimensions on display – just trying to get along with other people. People are fascinating. A must for any student of anthropology. 5 stars. Could do without Sonia and any post-interviews… but, hey…

  2. Let’s face it, it’s not brain surgery. Big Brother is what it is. Light entertainment and it’s not pretending to be anything else. I think it’s there to give us a laugh and sometimes provide us with something to chat about at the ‘water cooler’. Some people come out looking like the villain, occasionally we want them as our best friend (Reggie anyone?) but at the end of the day it’s all just a bit of fun isn’t? It’s a national past time to bag it, and plenty say they don’t watch it, yet everyone has an opinion.

  3. I’ve watched every episode (btw jumpin is useless. when you dont have access to channel 9 on your tv you do want an alternative as soon as the show is over). I feel like the housemates are great, but until this hotel task we havent seen them do any of the structured games and things that tend to bring out certain emotions in people.

    the thing that’s especially annoying is all of the recaps of things we’ve seen in other episodes. we want to see as much of the house as possible so when we have to watch the same thing 3 or more times it’s annoying.

    Very disappointing so far.

  4. Too many stories?

    Maybe that’s something they could use the website more for if they can’t have additional tv programming.

    They really should be making more content for the website. They were more active in this field last year and the one previous with constant updates, but now all it really is sadly is a site for recaps of the TV program and somewhere to vote in polls.

  5. @alfagirl the fact that this article got 20 comments…. Now 21 with mine tells me that people do care about BB.
    This season the show started off badly imo, but now that I know more about the HMs I am loving this season.

  6. I wouldn’t even subject my worst enemy to watching this dreck but the first thing that jumped out at me reading the article was sheer desperation, and I don’t know what kool aid Alex Mavroidakis is drinking from, but I think they may need to adjust the recipie/strength from totally delusional down to optimistic/heroic spin.

  7. Thats wrong Alex saying anyone over 40 gets booted out.
    Terri won when it was on channel 10 for the last year, and she was 54!
    Its more interesting with different age groups.

  8. Loved the hotel task- found it interesting. We’re all over the Lawson – Cat situation.
    I would like to see BB on Go at 7pm, seven nights a week.
    Thanks for the article, David!

  9. Secret Squirrel

    Ha ha. All you people who keep complaining about Big Brother but keep watching it. Alex Mavroidakis sends his love.

    I thought the same thing as Rutzie about the ratings being artificially boosted by the over-runs. It’s not an accident.

  10. Still think the main problem with this season’s BB is that all the housemates have been particularly unlikeable/uninteresting.
    Normally can find one or two who are worth watching and getting behind but not this year.

  11. If tthere is too much, then provide online content. Problem solved.

    So much just comes up on the show out of no where. Last nights episode had a flashback to some painting room and task which was never in the show.

    There may be too much, but then don’t waste time on pointless stupid stuff. Focus on the drama. Not manufacture stuff.

    They added Leo and in that show were already showing the promos for upcoming shows of the girls fighting over him. The storyline they wanted. Which never happened. It’s meant to be reality.

    Trying to script it and shape stroylines is what is killing it.

    The show used to do a good job in 20 minutes a night. Now in 40 minutes we have no clue.

  12. As an occasional viewer of the show, I can only say that this show is no where near as enjoyable as it was when ch10 did it. Are the producers expecting viewers to follow all the storylines with about 40 minutes of clips from the house?
    Either do it properly- 24 hour online access, a live up late show on week nights and live social media updates- or don’t do it at all.

  13. Namdog – That was exactly what i was going to say.
    If there is too much going on, then stop manufacturing stories by adding all these stupid stunts.

    I like the way they’re editing the Nominations show now, but you’re right, those little grabs are usually the first time we’ve seen the incident mentioned.

  14. Well that was interesting … thanks Big Brother! 🙂
    For the two hours from Tuesday and Wednesday nights I fast-forwarded through it all in about 30 minutes. Stopping only to watch some of the “hotel” task and anytime Leo, Travis, Lawson and Dave had their shirts off! The rest was just same old, same old.
    The evictions are far too drawn out … just get it over with in five minutes … “All housemates to the lounge … it’s time to go ?” … just get to the point!
    The “couples” idea was a brilliant and engaging start. We also need to see more being done with those two adorable dogs … training sessions for them etc!
    Glad “the one who thought he was a rapper” is gone, can’t even remember his name. His “rapping” was just embarrassing!
    I absolutely love the new house, so interesting and glamorous and beautiful … very well done BB!

  15. Oh please, too many story lines. Where are they?

    Why on earth did we have to endure, what was it, five or six segments on Aisha’s less than tranquil spa treatment the other night? Zzzzzzzzz

  16. It’s great that he has a lot of stories to choose from, so why does he keep having to pull these ridiculous stunts and make entire episodes out of them? Why can’t he just let all these apparently excess stories have some airtime rather than his manufactured ones?

    Because of all the stunts he’s pulling, every week we see people getting nominated for reasons we haven’t even seen or know about! And then all the housemates in their eviction interviews talk about all this other stuff we never knew.

  17. the rebooted BB has jumped the shark – and its only the 3rd season on nine! There are too many tasks this year. Rather than let the housemates settle in the first week, the producers deliberately starting doing stunts. I am usually a religious BB watcher, but disagree with the producer – I stopped watching after the first 3 shows.

    If they took out some of the tasks and stunts, he would have 1 less storyline to deal with.

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