Big Brother is watching

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Might the traditional Big Brother seem preferable to the newest version?

That’s WiC’s question for Chinese viewers this week on news that online video giant Youku is pairing up with Endemol, the owner of the Big Brother reality show, for the first version of the series in China.

Endemol has produced other hit shows on Chinese networks, including Jiangsu TV’s Super Brain. But now it’s promising a “unique immersive and interactive experience” with the Big Brother format, in which 12 strangers are locked inside a house and filmed 24-hours a day.

Elsewhere in the world, the Big Brother brand has declined since being launched to a blaze of publicity 15 years ago.

Perhaps that’s just as well. In Britain alone, hundreds of has-beens and hopeless cases have paraded through the ‘Big Brother House’. All but the worst of them (the loudest drunks, the nastiest brawlers, the racists and the sex-in-the-hot-tub brigade) saw their celebrity quickly fade.

Similarly coarse behaviour is unlikely to be tolerated in China, of course. In fact, netizens are already wondering if China’s Big Brother is going to be worth watching. “Don’t embarrass yourself by launching it,” one warned the show’s bosses. “With the ban on swearing, talking politics and making out, what is going to be worth watching?”

“If it’s going to be broadcast on television, the authorities will certainly make it harmonious,” another contributor agreed, predicting those in the house would end up “commending the Party’s glorious deeds, singing revolutionary songs… and heralding the tremendous changes to the motherland.”

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