Big Brother 2023 review: the 'ultimate social experiment' is back and is still punchy

Big Brother, the original reality TV show, returns with an ITV reboot but it feels like it's never been away

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When Big Brother first graced our screens in 2000, who knew it would still be here 23 years later? The "ultimate social experiment" which is influenced by the dystopian novel of the same name by George Orwell had captivated UK audiences for 19 seasons and last night, thanks to a new reboot from ITV we saw the dawn of season 20.

The instantly recognisable theme tune played once again, the synth pop beats made many of us expect to be greeted by the smiling face of Davina McCall who every Friday night in the noughties would be ready to spill the tea with the newly evicted housemate.

Instead we joined hosts AJ Odudu and Will Best for the pre-recorded launch show, uttering McCall's famous catchphrase: "Fancy another one?". The audience cheers seemed rather subdued compared to the old days, it was the contestants themselves who were screaming the house down.

Big Brother 2023 returned to our screens last night for the ITV reboot (Photo: Big Brother 2023 returned to our screens last night for the ITV reboot (Photo:
Big Brother 2023 returned to our screens last night for the ITV reboot (Photo:

The 16 contestants came through thick and fast and the first impressions were good. There is a real mix of people from all walks of life, opposing political views and life experiences. It's so different compared to reality TV shows we watch nowadays where everyone is already vying to be an influencer, instead we have ourselves a collection of everyday people who you could bump into at the pub. From doctor Matty to the youngest ever contestant in Big Brother history 18-year-old Hallie.

Once the house was full it didn't take long for the games to begin - and I was here for it. Big Brother started off by getting people to play party games including musical statues and pass the parcel. Unfortunately Jenkin drew the short straw, the first person to enter the house he lost the first game and his hot water privileges all in one go. Then his suitcase with all his belongings was blown up and if that's not all, he unwittingly nominated housemate Olivia for eviction when he named her as the hardest housemate to live with. Her reaction is what makes Big Brother so enthralling, as she took the nomination personally, shouted, cried and was the first person to let loose in the diary room. But Big Brother has given her an out, if she can make sure she isn't voted the least entertaining housemate she can save herself from the public vote.

Reviews overall have been mixed, the Independent gave it a 3 out of 5 star rating, describing it as "old-school and unflashy" but lacking "the element of chaos". Whilst the Guardian gave it a meagre 2 out of 5 stars calling it "exhaustingly bland".

It was hard not to notice the pre-recorded feel, especially when it suddenly shot to later on in the evening when everyone was in the hot tub. This took away the original live action feel that made Big Brother so edgy as you never knew what was going to happen or be said. At times it felt like a watered-down version of the original, but overall it was a solid return to noughties nostalgia. We'll have to see if the drama continues and what other twists Big Brother has in store.

Big Brother is available to watch nightly (except Saturday) on ITV2 at 9pm

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