I was at a meeting the other day where some people were discussing Channel 4 and its rationalisation of Big Brother’s success. Channel 4 has explained that the show originally started off as an experiment, watching a group of strangers interact with each other in close proximity for a number of weeks without any outside contact. In the process people are exposed, at close quarters, to the peccadilloes of society, including issues on race, religion, sexuality and disability. I think we could all say that the first two Big Brother programmes were very interesting, but the show has descended into chaos over the last few years and has become a little uncomfortable. It all reminds me of PT Barnum during his latter years, when his “freak” shows were being questioned by various social campaigners. Barnum wrote a series of letters to various social reformers explaining that if he didn’t employ the freaks in his shows, they would literally be in the streets in squalor. Indeed the lives of some of these people had been drastically improved under the auspices of Barnum’s freak shows – for example Charles Strouse, AKA Tom Thumb, who was a midget who became the toast of politicians and the aristocracy alike. But it was the severely disabled people in Barnum’s shows that there was much disquiet about. And as Big Brother becomes more and more outrageous in its choice of participants so do we become slightly wary of the reasoning behind Channel 4’s decisions. On the eve of Big Brother 9, I foresee that after the fourth week we will make a decision as to whether the inmates are actually interesting or just putting on a show. It will probably capture people’s interest during the Summer season and bring welcome relief to Gordon Brown and his beleaguered party, but as for its future, what does that bring. What has happened to the previous winners or media friendly contestants? It seems the likes of Charlie, Ziggy and the twins are just brought back to promote the new shows. They haven’t achieved any level of fame for themselves. The only person to achieve something from winning was Jade, but look what happened to her… the show that made her, ultimately destroyed her when she made a guest appearance in Celebrity Big Brother. Surely a show like this must be in a state of decline. We can only wait and see.