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The genesis of the TV reality show

By | August 29th 2009

By Dauti Kahura

Big Brother is a TV reality show in which a group of disparate people, mostly youth, are ‘trapped’ in a large Spartan-like residence.

The catch is the rest of the world has a chance to ‘peek’ into what the housemates do — in a near voyeuristic style.

The reality show is based on the Orwellian futuristic novel, The Animal Farm written by George Orwell in 1949.

Orwell, the British writer, had imagined a despotic world where people would be at the mercy of a Big Brother who would dictate and lord it over them.

The first Big Brother show was shot in Holland, a country known for its laissez faire government policies in1999. It instantly achieved notoriety as the most controversial reality show ever to be aired.

Subsequently, there emerged similar improvisations of the same in Europe, Asia, America and Africa.

The first African Big Brother was staged in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2003. But it was not Spartan-like — it had a luxurious Jacuzzi.

When it was aired for the first time, it attracted the ire of religious leaders and some presidents who termed the show immoral, ‘unAfrican’ and ‘antagonistic’.

About 12 African countries have participated in the three Big Brother shows that have been held in South Africa, with 30 million viewership.

The first African Big Brother show was won by 24-year-old Cherise Makubale, a Zambian.

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