Marmiteboy - Urbane Warrior.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Shame Of Big Brother?

So a disabled person has at last been admitted to the Big Brother house. For many years now disabled people have complained that no disabled person had ever ben admitted to BB and that the Channel 4 was not a true reflection of society. This series it seems is different, a 24-year old man from Brighton in Sussex, Pete Stephenson has Tourette's Syndrome and went into the house on Thursday night.

Now I originally posted on BBC Ouch that I wouldn't watch any of this because I felt that Pete would only be included on the show as some kind of sweary freak. However, on reflection I thought I'd watch before I criticised. On Friday morning I was listening to BBC Five Live and they were talking about the entry into the house. They played one clip. Guess who? Yep, Pete. And they took the piss out of his 'bizarre' behaviour. No mention that he had Tourette's at all. Not a good omen. Then yesterday afternoon I turned on Big Brother's Little Brother on Channel 4 and the camera was focused on Pete in the garden. He was on his own and was shouting and swearing.It looked like they had what they wanted. A freak show. However, the guest in the studio, whoever they were, had taken a liking to Pete and was tipping him as a winner.

So is it just me? I'm I being too precious and protective? Is Channel 4 right in putting Pete in there. Should Pete be commended for giving it a go probably knowing that he was going to get ridiculed. It may well be that by Pete being in the house awareness about Tourette's will be raised and it will do a lot of good in the long run. Only time will tell and I hope that the directors and producers of Big Brother treat tehe subject with dignity.

I really hope that I'm proved wrong and the first disabled person on Big Brother turns out to be a positive experience.


Blogger Charlesdawson said...

I have this vision of the creeps at C4 sitting round discussing the making of this series:

"We've got to up the ante this time. ITV went one better putting celebs in a jungle and giving them tasks copied from old clips of The Word. BBC went one better than that by putting crips in the jungle. Here we are stuck in deepest Estuary, we have got to find something exotic as a hook.

"How about an exotic crip? No use getting blindies or deafies or wheelies - the Beeb has shown how bloody normal they are - that's boring.

No, we can't use someone with anything the Great British Public has been brought up to believe are Brave and Noble and Tragic - so that's CP and Downs out the window.

No, we can't use someone who's mentally ill - you know, these people are, like, crazy, they might pull a knife on someone, especially us when we try our little mind games!

What we need is someone who is a pussycat really, but has lots of tics and florid behaviour - that'll get em in. Oh, and make sure it's one of the minority who swear compulsively, we don't want anything too Pollyanna."

No, I don't think you are being precious or protective at all.

8:35 am

Anonymous Heather Hopkins said...

I agree - I too was worried that Pete's presence would not raise awareness, only be good for a cheap laugh. However, Channel 4's Big Brother website ( has a link to the Tourette's Syndrome Association website and the site is the #4 downstream from Channel 4's Big Brother site. For avid fans -who watch and visit the site -we may see awareness increase.

I blogged about this on my site... click the link below to see the post.

12:24 pm

Blogger The Goldfish said...

I think the most telling comment about all this was from the producers who actually declared this series would be more twisted than ever. It seems to me from what I have read that each contestant was chosen for some aspect of freakishness. When this comes from a personal eccentricity, that's one thing, when this comes from an already massively stigmatised condition, it makes me feel very uncomfortable.

2:38 pm

Blogger marmiteboy said...

I am inclined to believe both Charles and The Goldfish here, although Heather does make a good point regarding the Channel 4 BB website.

Maybe we should look at the intention of Channel 4 in making this programme. They want 'odd' people. And I don't think that they give two hoots if they leave someone with a stigmatised condition open to ridicule.

2:47 pm

Blogger Katie said...

I thought all the hosemates from present Big Brother to the past ones were all odd?

I seem to think that some housemates could be regarded as having some sort of "pretend" disability.

Jade, Eugene, Jon Tickle (the geek) and Kitten, Marco, Craig and Nadia and finally the wierdest of all Mary O Leary the white witch!

5:58 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

have to disagree with you MB. you can't have your cake and eat it. I too heard the feature on 5live the next morning BUT it was followed by a lengthy discussion with a leading TS noble. BBLB also had an excellent guest talking about the syndrome. In the last week i have learned more about TS than i ever learned in my life.

How about that bbc doc about TS? that really did create negative vibes & fun poking.
yet as it was the beeb nobody dared to raise the issue.

Check out any BB newsboard, website, tv show - everyone loves pete. They may as well give him the prize now & give us our summer back. The guy has single handedly done more for the casue than anyone thus far (IMHO).

He is totally himself, he refuses to take any drugs to reduce the effects of TS as he is totally comfortable with it (unlike the guy in thr bbc show), he is supremly self confident and totally natural - what more of a positive light to you want to give it???!!

5:58 pm

Blogger stella said...

Hmmm... interesting. The Australian series has also just started and they're a really boring mob. Yet again, nobody with a disability (although you'd have to question the mental health of a woman who encouraged her 19 year old daughter to partake in a matching boob job).

Knowing that there are lots of people with a disability who apply for BB, at least in this country, I find it interesting that they have chosen someone with a fairly intense and challenging disability. I have always gotten the impression that they would prefer to have someone with a disability that's a bit more.... um.... passive (I can't think of a better word). Although as Charles points out, that would only prove how normal and uninteresting we are.

I'll be interested to hear how it all pans out... Keep me posted!

1:58 am

Blogger Charlesdawson said...

I don't think anyone, here or on ouch!, has criticised Pete for entering. It seems likely he wants to further his career and raise public awareness of Tourette's; good luck to him. I hope he succeeds in both.

The criticisms that have been made have all been of the Channel 4 mob and their motives for choosing these particular contestants, not just Pete. They have been quite blatant about arranging a "freak show" this time. I still say it is they who are the creeps.

8:07 am

Blogger pete said...

Wotcha MB
I stand by my comment on the Ouch board.

I would rather cauterise my haemorrhoids with a tee-light than watch the rubbish that is Big Brother.

I ****ing well hope that geezer known as Pete ****ing wins!

1:57 pm

Blogger smorgasbord-design said...

I have to say I believe this to be entirely sensationalist. The intention of Ch4 has been to turn up the volume on outlandish behaviour and it seems that the easiest way for them to do this is invite a TS sufferer into the fray under the pretence of inclusivity. The link from the Ch4 site is a cynical ploy to suggest they give a toss. look around the web, there's not much positive stuff being said about him Brighton Life and an article about Pete using Ketamine worsening the disorder. Even Ouch! seemed undecided about the whole thing.

12:08 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

well if c4 DID do it for 'cheap laffs' it backfired, as he seems universally popular, nobody is making him the butt of cheap gags and i would really hope its educated a few people on the way. - even if its not what c4 wanted, i think (so far at least) its been a great sucess

11:02 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As one who is blessed with Tourettes, I say "Go Pete" and "Well done C4".

Since BB7 started, I have never felt so comfortable with my condition and am now in grave danger of becoming trendy.

For years, there has been a groundswell that a disabled person should be included in the house. Why are disabled people being so precious about this now? And at the same time describing Tourettes as outlandish or putting "amusing" sw**r words in their comments? Seems the normals are far more comfortable with Tourettes that the crips.

1:22 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

'So is it just me? I'm I being too precious and protective?'

I think you have your answer.

1:59 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly, Pete applied to go on BB and he was selected - would you rather he applied and was rejected because he was disabled?

People also assert that here have previoulsy been no disabled housemates on Big Brother - how would you know that without making huge assumptions about people - many disabilites are invisible after all.

Another thing Peter is getting treated exactly the same way as all the other house,mates - everyone is being ridiculed to some extent or another - its part of the show!

Things like this kinda annoy me - lets stop banging on about peoples disabilities all the time, why are they relevant to the discussion? They are just part of who we all are - nothing special, nothing good, nothing bad just part of who we are. The day they are competely overlooked rather than harped on about is the day I will be happy!

4:19 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My entire reason for posting the article is because I was angry about C4 using someone for cheap laughs. Having viewed some of BB7 I must say that if C4 had that intention then as one of my anonymous posters has said, it has entirely backfired.

It looks as awareness of TS has been raised and in a very positve way. I don't read the tabloids so I don't know what they are saying about Pete now he is in the house but from the bits and pieces I have seen from Big Brothers, Little Brother etc Pete is the most popular guy in the house. He is definitey, it seems to me, the most genuine person there, and the least affected.

I have to say that maybe I was being too precious and protective and that I should have realised that Pete went into the house with his eyes completely wide open and he wouldn't have done so if he had thought he was going to be exploited by the show. I sit corrected

11:48 am

Blogger marmiteboy said...

The above comment was from me. I forot to log in before I posted it.

11:51 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

well at least its caused a bit of discussion mb !

5:15 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice conclusion MB. Took me a while to crack what 'BB7' meant. Thought it was a Freeview channel !!

8:15 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anything that leads to greater awareness of the reality, and different levels and effects of T's, is welcomed, even if hesitantly at first.

In my wheelchair sat in a vibrant music concert, I was patronised mildly by unaware non-disabled, my friend with hidden disability of mild T's (he went walkabout in the interval to discharge T's symptoms) was smiled at by non-disabled for his selfless assistance to me, the man sat in front whose T's rose to the occasion of the music and twitched and bounced and generally responded physically to the music, was shunned, tutted at, considered a disgrace who should have stayed at home, by the non-disabled who remained ignorant.

T's is a profound condition, and I swear far more than my T's friend.

4:21 pm

Blogger Terry Funk said...

I did a search for online or cyber Tourette's Syndrome, but didn't get any hits. I guess it's back to troll research. It's been quite an interesting study.

6:31 pm


Post a Comment

<< Home