Big Brother limps back to Channel 5

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Channel 5 continue to apply the electrodes to the rotting corpse that is Big Brother. As cheap schedule-fillers go, the reality show remains one of the budget channel's mainstays, and they have assembled the usual motley collection of tabloid-fodder for the latest instalment.

Recruitment for Big Brother candidates now involves ticking a number of boxes. Sex, criminal inclinations, tattoos and exhibitionism are all obvious assets, but nowadays a little tangential celebrity association is also a must have.

That explains the presence of one of Tulisa Contostavlos's ex school friends, Channel 5 presumably hoping to get plenty of audience-grabbing revelations about the N-Dubz star delivered live and uncensored, while she remains in the public eye.

More worrying is the prospect of an ex-police officer who had a prominent role in Operation Yewtree appearing as a housemate. After the Daily Star floated the story, Scotland Yard were quick to warn the channel that this could endanger ongoing investigations. As the Star shares ownership with Channel 5 their story had more credibility than most of their exclusives. Especially as former police officers now have to look for other avenues of income after their regular payments from tabloids dried up after the Leveson enquiry.

You can't blame the channel for trying to broaden Big Brother's appeal, although the core audience remains those voyeurs who want to pretend to be appalled by the brash vulgarity of the contestants. There is plenty of material for them to enjoy, not least the "tattooed rock chick glamour model" and self-proclaimed "bitch" Sallie Axl. She claims to have slept with 70 women and several celebrities, including footballers. Of course she does.

For many Britons, Big Brother is the opportunity to dust off the 5 button on the remote that remains unused for most of the year. For the rest of us, it's a reminder of the dire state of modern Britain, a showcase for assorted damaged, vacuous, aggressive and grotesque narcissists desperate for attention.

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