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COMMENT: Don’t worry about Populism, it’s only a game show.

EDITORIAL NOTE: This opinion piece was originally published on 27th August 2018.

ARE we living in a fake world? Fake news, fake politicians and fake democracy? To most with their mouths around the tap of the mainstream drip feed – that theory will immediately sound like it’s said by a conspiracy nut, but by the end of this article, you might agree.

The theory of the ‘fake world’ has been promoted by Adam Curtis in his BBC documentary ‘HyperNormalisation’ but I believe our path to the acceptance of the fake world and the change we can make all stems reality TV, after all the former President of the United States is a reality star.

Television and the media’s search for ratings and shock value paved the way for Donald Trump to enter the White House, and it also helped Brexit and former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The two juggernauts of ‘populist revolutions’ wouldn’t have been possible without the innovative brains of the late-90s TV and Tech world, particularly Europe after innovations in technology brought together television and the internet with mass voting from the public, it was all about YOU Deciding. Power to the people and all that.

Reality TV was even predicted in a 1960’s BBC play that imagined 24-hour camera surveillance with individuals put under pressure by performing tasks and The Family was a reality/docu TV hit in the early 70s that showed a working-class family ‘as is’ no holds barred.

The 1974 show began with the family eating a chippy tea around the table and it was explained to them by a producer, that they would be in the public eye and their lives would be recorded 24/7.

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Ten million viewers a week were glued to the lives of the Wilkins – Terry, Margaret, their four kids and the lodger living in a cramped flat in Reading.

The show hit Britain with a big dose of reality, but it wasn’t ready for such a show, it was simply too extreme for its time – but people still tuned in to the reality of 70s Britain.

Christopher, nine, cried when his mum told him a dustman was his real dad and Unwed Marian, 19, outraged millions by living with lodger Tom. Gary, 18, also caused a shock because wife Karen was pregnant when they wed at 16, while Heather, 18, was shunned over mixed-race boyfriend Melvin.

The show was the first documentary type show in the UK to be put out weekly as it was still being made – that today would be The Only Way Is Essex or Made in Chelsea.

Decades later in 2000, Blighty was introduced to a new voyeuristic type show called Big Brother on Channel 4. It was a show aimed at the silent majority, the youth, the great unwashed, the plebs of society – who would pick up the phone and pay to vote.

It was aired at 11 pm each night and had a trance theme tune, and the eviction shows had a ‘rave’ feel and thousands turned up each week, the crowds got bigger and bigger as the show increased its ratings. Everybody was watching, but the Establishment HATED it, remind you of anyone?…

To many of you, Peter Bazalgette will be an unfamiliar name, but Bazalgette is the man who brought Big Brother to the UK – the show that fuelled together the internet, premium-rate phone lines and needed ‘populism’ and ‘the people’ to make it a success.

It was – and by September 2000, Big Brother broke records with over 3.5m voting in just one Eviction – the biggest vote in the television history — in the final, A record-breaking 7.5 million people voted – more than one in 12 of the population.

The Daily Mail once named him one of the 10 “worst Britons” for bringing Big Brother to Britain, but I wonder why? Was it because the Big Brother populism gave ordinary Britons a platform via TV? In the same way in which the press barons of today attack Social Media for doing the same and smear all alternative real news as ‘fake.’?

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The ‘Nasty Nick’ saga had conspiracies of a secret ‘Mobile Phone’ inside the house, he even had to be booted out via the back door because the British public wanted to lynch the pantomime villain – even Davina looked shocked by the crowd reaction to Nick as she asked who should be next to leave.

The success of Big Brother only occurred thanks to that very villain, a similar pantomime villain to Trump and Boris of today – internet ratings quadrupled as Craig confronted Nick over his secret ‘note writing.’ proving everybody LOVES a good ‘stormy’ scandal.

The shows phenomenon grew via the sheer availability to see the action with content aired 24 hours a day on TV and via the dial-up Internet age as events in the House were streamed 24/7 online – It generated 200m page impressions on the Channel 4 website that streamed footage LIVE – the first of its kind in the UK in a similar way we are all online every day broadcasting our lives to the world on Facebook and Twitter, two Social Media juggernauts that helped the Brexit movement win the EU referendum and helped Donald Trump win the 2016 Election.

The Trump and Brexit and Boris campaigns used social media and the alternative media to reach the people, in the same way, Big Brother used text updates internet and television to connect to the masses.

The establishment hated this sort of ‘too the masses’ reality TV,  they’ve always hated anything that gave power to the little people… the newspapers hated TV and now the Newspapers hate Social Media – because it limits their control over our minds.

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Reality TV and shows like Big Brother gave the little people power, and it allowed us to vote and actually notice a difference. Fast forward to 2016 and we then put this ‘voting to make a difference’ tactic into reality and did that with the things that really matter in Politics, to change ‘the forgotten people’s’ lives with Brexit and Trump – No wonder the Establishment and the Daily Mail, that’s now backing a soft-Brexit – called Peter Bazalgate one of the worst Britons in 2005.

Think of Big Brother as the Establishment and the viewers as the voters – the producers have a narrative and a goal they want to push, but at the touch of the button WE DECIDE and can change their dastardly plans… once we make a vote, there’s nothing they can do about it, they can try to slow it down, water it down but eventually – the housemate we have Evicted (the EU) and the person we wanted to win (Boris) will do just that.

In the book “How three men risked all and changed the face of television“. Peter Bazalgette explains how Big Brother and shows like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and the creator of Survivor John Smith and John de Mol – Big Brother’s Dutch creator changed the face of TV.

Smith and Parsons found new ways of getting viewers emotionally involved – voters are emotionally involved today, the anger of Immigration and fears of outsiders and the love of country fuelled Brexit and Trump.

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When Endemol first pitched Bazalgette the idea of locking people up under surveillance, he wrote in a memo that “This is far too cruel for the UK market.” and added “The rats-in-a-cage-who’ll-do-anything-for-money is something that I doubt we could sell on to commercial television…as currently constituted, we feel the show has a narrow market in the UK.”

I wonder why? I think it’s because he knew that TV producers would see that as a direct link to the establishment’s control of the ‘rats’ as Britain then and still is the most watched nation on earth.

There are between 4 million and 5.9 million CCTV surveillance cameras in the UK, according to a report from the British Security Industry Association and Britain has 1% of the world’s population but 20% of its CCTV cameras – controlling and oppressing us, the UK is the most watched nation on earth, no wonder Big Brother was such a success.

Populist Big Brother is a show that also reflects life in Britain – Big Brother has made gays acceptable see Brian Dowling, the British public even crowned Nadia the winner – a transexual, and that was back in 2004…

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Social status is also reversed on Big Brother – Posh people never win, women are always the first out and there are the constant bully and race rows.. as seen in the recent series of Celebrity Big Brother with Rodrigo, populism is simply the good, the bad and the ugly of society, those who are against it are living in a bubble and not in reality, there’s a reason its called ‘Reality TV.’

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You Decide.

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