It’s only in its second season, but already Big Brother Canada is making waves – and we reckon it’s the best version going at the moment.
In recent years, it seems Big Brother hasn’t been able to do right without doing wrong on either side of the Atlantic.
In the UK, it has been putting out some top notch telly – but the rules that make the format what it should be have been destroyed in the process.
The American version has been left to stagnate, with fans turning on its broadcaster CBS and executive producer Allison Grodner as they stick to the same old formula, making very few changes between seasons.
In 2012, amid the ups and downs, English-speaking Canada finally joined the party twelve years after everyone else, when broadcaster Slice announced its first ever series.
The news came as a pleasant surprise, with Canadians rejoicing at the fact that they’d finally get a chance to take part – though it’s fair to say that there wasn’t high expectations for the show, given BBUSA’s lull and the fact it was going to air on a female-oriented specialty digital channel.
But the proof is in the pudding, and what a tasty pudding it turned out to be. BBCAN – based on the radically different American format, which pits contestants against each other with no public voting – is now nearing the end of its second season, which has been absolutely gripping since day one.
As a result, BBUK and BBUSA’s shortcomings have only been further highlighted – so here we sum up why they should both be running scared of Big Brother Canada.
It’s had stacks of money thrown at it
BBUK fans were thrilled last year when it was revealed that the house had been given a complete structural makeover for the first time since 2009. But if you thought that was too long a wait, spare a thought for BBUSA fans, who have been putting up with the same building since 2005.
And as if that wasn’t bad enough, they had to sit by and watch in envy in February when BBCAN unveiled its stunning brand new digs – which had been rebuilt from the ground up.
When its producers lost the lease on the old set after its first season, they had to start again at a new location. Although the second-generation house shares some similarities with its predecessor, it has enough differences to make it impressive – most significantly a proper second floor, featuring the entrance, bathroom and two bedrooms, a feature we can only dream of over here.
In addition, they also upgraded their equipment, adding new state-of-the-art cameras so the show could be broadcast in HD. By comparison, BBUSA is stuck in the dark ages – it’s one of the few programmes still being broadcast in 4:3. That’s right, it’s not even widescreen.
It puts CBS to shame that it continues to throw a fresh lick of paint on an aged house and broadcast it in a near-obsolete picture format each year, while Slice has gone all-out two seasons in a row.
It’s not afraid to take massive risks
This year’s BBCAN launched with a major twist – billed as ‘never before done anywhere’ – involving three houseguests moving in to a secret room, before one was voted in to the main house.
Okay, so such twists are commonplace around the world. But regardless of the empty promise, the producers’ plan was completely unprecedented – as there has never, ever been a late entrant in the history of the American Big Brother format.
One reason that might have put BBUSA bosses off introducing intruders is their guaranteed disadvantage – the existing houseguests would no doubt be wary of them and possibly even target them instantly, having fought to stay in the game for longer.
But Canada decided to do it, and ended up smashing that theory – with Allison (pictured above centre), the lucky candidate that viewers chose to become a fully-fledged houseguest, surviving five evictions before the others turned on her (she was immune her first week).
BBUSA has never taken such a big risk, and it’s heading in to its sixteenth season this year. No wonder fans are getting bored of it…
Its online offering is second to none
When BBUK moved to Channel 5 in 2011, rather than launch a fully-featured official website, they decided to focus on social media outlets, with news and videos being posted on a bare-bones Facebook app that doesn’t have a patch on Channel 4′s previous efforts.
BBCAN could easily have gone down the same path, but they didn’t. Instead, their online team embraced the growing second screen trend by launching an outstanding fully-featured website complete with its own game.
The idea is incredibly simple – you sign up for a free account and collect points simply by predicting nomination results, reading news posts, flicking through photos and watching videos. The clever bit is that the more points you collect, the more influence you can have in the house.
Every time a major twist takes place, viewers are invited to cast votes on what should happen – and the more points you’ve collected, the more your vote counts. When you join, you start off with a vote that’s two times more powerful – and it increases in milestones until the you reach the maximum 150 times at 15,000 points.
The result is more a far more engaging concept that should be adopted by every version of Big Brother – but sadly it’s highly likely that BBUK will stick with the same awkward-to-navigate Facebook app this summer, given that it’s hardly changed in three years.
Of course, there’s another reason that BBCAN trumps the others in all things internet…
It has four live feeds – that are available for free
Although it’s had many criticisms levelled at it, BBUSA has always been the world leader in live feeds. For a subscription fee, they still offer four streams, a split-screen stream, and a ‘flashback’ feature allowing you to rewind the footage to any point in the season.
However, this year, BBCAN snatched their crown by taking the same features – and offering them for free (in HD quality).
This is no doubt annoying for those south of the border, who have to pay thirty bucks a season for access. But at least they have that option – it’s even more galling for us in the UK, as Channel 5 insists that live feeds are no longer necessary (even though the whole idea of Big Brother was to enable the audience to watch the action 24 hours a day).
Meanwhile, a Canadian cable channel with a fraction of the reach stays true to the concept, and thanks fans for their loyalty by charging diddly squat. Don’t know about you, but we’re really tempted to emigrate…
It has AMAZING theme music
Okay, not really a reason for BBUK to be running scared, but we can’t do a feature on BBCAN without mentioning its title music, which is coming dangerously close to toppling Paul Oakenfold and Andy Gray’s masterpiece as our all-time favourite Big Brother theme.
Seriously, it’s amazing – have a listen yourself by hitting play here.
Amazing, right? If the powers that be are reading this, please release a full-length track so we can play it on a loop all day!
It’s action-packed with almost no compromises to the format
Even when you take all of the above out of the equation, Big Brother Canada still trumps its rivals – simply because it’s a complete joy to watch.
Okay, so it’s not 100% perfect – every version has its own shortcomings (for instance, it last week breached the outside contact rule by arranging visits from friends and family). But, unlike recent editions of BBUK and BBUSA – and even BB Australia, which our Twitter followers will know we rave about – almost every episode of BBCAN’s latest season has left us thoroughly entertained and pumped for more, without any lingering feelings that the chiefs in charge are diluting the show’s format.
The main example of this came during a very dramatic Power of Veto ceremony. As the name suggests, the PoV allows its holder to save one nominee from the threat of eviction – which is just what happened in week seven, when Head of Household Jon handed a reprieve to one of the house’s two main targets so he could take out a bigger personal threat.
Unfortunately for Jon, Allison had found a unique secret Veto of her own days earlier – and her decision to use it cause shockwaves that the houseguests and the viewers have only just recovered from a fortnight later. Watch what happened here.
BBUK comes up with a half-baked twist almost every week in an attempt to keep us watching – last summer’s series had only two regular rounds of nominations – but all BBCAN needs to spice things up is one secret power and the effects can last for ages.
And while we’re sharing clips, there’s another moment you have to see, involving houseguest Ika being offered the choice of letters from home for the entire group – or a cool $5,000 prize.
Of course, everyone else was watching on in shock from the living area – and while you could argue that Big Brother helped destroy her game by not informing her of this fact, the chaos that ensued was edge-of-your-seat viewing. See it for yourself here
There’s lots more we could talk up about Big Brother Canada – from its decision to bring the Big Brother character back to the American format, to the excellent mini tasks that complement the main competitions, to its hilarious Marsha The Moose character.
Essentially, it has taken the best bits of Big Brother from around the world and mixed them together in to a delightfully compelling show. It’s now our firm favourite version here at bbspy, and we’re going to be gutted when it ends on Thursday – fingers crossed that Slice secures it for a third season sooner rather than later.
In the mean time, lets hope that BBUK and BBUSA are taking notes, because they seriously need to up their games if they want to compete.
PS. Neda to win!Source: bbspy