Seven Life Lessons We’ve Learned From Big Brother

As the programme enters its 15th series, we take a look at some of the better things we've learned from its existence...

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by Sophie Wilkinson |
Published on

The billionth (sorry, 15th) series of Big Brother has just launched. Yep, it actually happened, and is already being watched by 1.97m people. For perspective, that's almost double Made In Chelsea's record of just under a million. So, even though it's waned in popularity since the early 00's, there's still a legacy to it which lives on much further than television producers trying to get someone to bare all about their sexual dalliances with Wayne Rooney.

Here are some well-learned life lessons we've picked up from the series of old:

1. Don’t be a dick

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'Nasty' Nick Bateman broke all of the rules back in the first-ever series of Big Brother, speaking in codes and writing down names on pieces of paper to try to get people to vote tactically with him to ensure he could win the whopping £100,000 prize. He also lied, saying he was in the territorial army when he wasn’t. He eventually got taken down by handyman Craig Phillips, and later admitted in the diary room: ‘You live by the sword, you die by the sword.' Or, simply, don’t be a dick. Oh, and we could also learn that lesson from anarchist Kitten, who spent her entire time breaking the rules only to be chucked out.

2. Know your limits

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As MP George Galloway took to the milk bowl set out by actress Rula Lenska in Celebrity Big Brother 4, and uttered the infamous ‘I’ll be the cat’ line, before lapping milk out of a bowl, oodles of us realised that, just because you’re asked to do something, you really don’t have to do it. End of.

3. If you want to be popular, have an accent

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Take a look at the winners – Craig Phillips and Antony Hutton stole our hearts with their Geordie accents, Cameron Stout managed to win despite being quite boring thanks to his Scottish charm, Nadia Almada’s high-camp Portuguese tone was hilarious, and then there's Josie Gibson’s West Country drawl, Brian Belo's Essex twang... Well, it’s safe to say the ones who won are exactly the types you can recognise, but maybe the ones you wouldn't want to be stuck next to on a long train journey.

4. Shared-room sex can never be done on the sly

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As wedding/21st/BBQ/whatever season approaches and you’re destined to have a bunk up with some errant plus one, remember that, if you’re sharing a bedroom with anyone other than the person you’re shacking up with, nothing can be quietly done under the covers. And it doesn’t take a grainy night camera to work that one out. Saskia and Paul circa Big Brother 6 learned this the hard way.

5. The Great British public is a lot more accepting than you might think

Though it’s hard to measure, we think some of this is down to Big Brother. Producers brought in people of different genders and sexualities to push the shock factor up, but in Nadia Almada’s sky-high popularity in the tumultuous fifth series (remember Fight Night?), we learned that the British public was ready to celebrate trans people as humans. Plus, with both feminine lesbians and butch gays throughout the series, the show switched our expectations of what it is to be LGBT, *as well *as getting lots of people to get off with each other in a hot tub. Unfortunately, the same can’t really be said for people of different ethnicities, Brian Belo being the only person from an ethnic minority to win in the show's 14-year history.

6. Don’t sweat the small stuff

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Jade Goody was livid about the verruca she got on her finger and thumb when she was in the third series, accusing various people of giving it to her in the shared shower, saying it felt ‘minging’. Little did she know that, in the grand scheme of things, this was no controversy at all. That came later, when she made racist comments and jokes at Shilpa Shetty’s expense in the Celebrity Big Brother 5 house. The anger at her behaviour (which, by the way, also involved her mum Jackiey Budden, boyfriend Jack Tweed and S Club 7's Jo O'Meara) led to effigies of her being burned in Shilpa's home country of India.

7. Don’t take shortcuts

When Susie Verrico went into the Big Brother 7 house on a golden ticket, it wasn’t because she was lucky, it was because her husband would stop at nothing to help her on her quest. The businessman bought 60 boxes of KitKats to secure the ticket, but when that didn’t work, he bid £4,000 on eBay for a ticket to get her onto the show. Once there, she sort of ponced about like she owned the place, leading Nikki Grahame to declare: ‘Who is she?’ The best part is, when we asked around the office, no one at The Debrief even knew the woman Nikki was livid at.

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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