Sunday, 18 January 2009

At Least If Joseph Fritzl was in Big Brother, There'd be Cameras in the Basement this time.

This weekend, me and my flatmate Hugh have been able to have a rare insight about how certain aspects of television are made. The decision that we'd embark on this adventure occurred after a tipsy remark on Friday night, where we joked about auditioning for the next Summer series of Big Brother. The logistics were easy enough... the auditions were just down the road from us, and it'd be a nice easy way to kill time on a Saturday. I'm not saying the decision was that easy; we were able to fit in a couple of pints before arriving at the auditions at 1.30pm. To ease ourselves into it, you see.

We arrived at St. James' Park, and found a very interesting sight. Just at the entrance to the audition room stood two people in their mid-twenties, one holding pamphlets and the other with a large camera. As we approached the entrance, they turned to us and asked "Big Brother auditions?". We agreed. We were then asked to pose for a photo of us holding one of these pamphlets. The experience was an odd one. It was only when we walked inside that I realised what they were doing. In the off-chance that one of these hundreds of applicants would finally get into the house, they were able to take photos of them all endorsing their product. Six months down the line when the housemates are announced, they can trawl through the thousands of photos they have to find anybody who is remotely famous holding one of their pamphlets. It's a very arduously planned method for a cheap photoshoot with a potential future celebrity. How tedious.

One claimed to be gay for ten years, and then worked out that he'd only been gay for six years.

Walking inside St. James', we were greeted with a queue of people on the stairs- all of which were about 20-23. It is interesting how many young people a show like Big Brother attracts. In the hour we were in this queue, we then went to join a second queue. This was a task in itself. A queue for queueing. Seemed a bit pointless. After our extensive double-queue, we were asked to join participants in groups of ten to do a number of activites. This included yelling, contact improvisation, knot tying with our hands and me getting acquainted with the insides of people's legs. After our team won (for, it seems, doing nothing), we were all asked through to the next room for the next stage. Hopefully not involving queues.

In our team of ten, we had to get to know each other with interesting facts. I pulled out my gem of "I have no toenails"; but there were a few facts from others that topped this. One claimed to be gay for ten years, and then worked out that he'd only been gay for six years. One person had a glass eye. Another was a fireman. One person claimed to have a wooden leg, then told us that this fact wasn't true. We all thought he was a bit odd. After this, one person at a time had to line up the team in order from "Most" to "Least"., but wasn't allowed to say what the category was. According to the people, I was the least arrogant (which is fair enough) but one of the most likely to have murdered somebody. So, I'm a serial killer, but I don't let it go to my head. At the end of this, the people through to stage 2 were stamped with the Big Brother logo on their hand. Fake-fake Appendage man and Dyscalculaic Homosexual were the only two in our group not to go through to the next round.

Quite happy that both of us were through, me and Hugh went to the next stage- which consisted of having our photo taken and filling in a little form. Questions involved "What do you do" to "What's the most shameful thing you've ever done" and "Is there anything you haven't told your parents?". We both answered the questions with a bit of humour about ourselves, as none of us were taking it seriously. After the form was filled in, we had our one-to-one interviews, which were designed to provoke us:

"So, what's your name?"
"Stephen Frizzle"
"Do you prefer a nickname?"
"Friz, if you don't mind"
"Friz? What if we called you.. Frizzy?"
"Friz is fine"
"What about Frizwald?"
"What? Well.. if you want to"
"I'm not German"
"Please don't call me Fritzl"
"Are you posh? You sound posh? Are you posh, Fritzl?"

At least if Joseph Fritzl was in Big Brother, there'd be cameras in the basement this time.

Then, a bit of a wait, until I was directed to another part of another room.. where I was asked if I had a fun time, and then was told that "unfortunately, we won't be requiring you for any more stages. But, thanks for coming". This was good. I'd done what I planned to. At least I could say that I tried. And, at least I hadn't travelled miles to attend like a lot of other people. It was literally a twenty minute walk. I text Hugh to see if he was ready to go as well. I was text back: "Go home, got more writing to do!".

Excellent! Hugh was let through! Our day wasn't wasted at least. I head off home, prepared for a night out. Hugh joined me later, and mentioned what Stage 3 was like.. basically questions about his life, relationships and creativity. I was happy for the guy. But I was even happier at about 8.20pm when my phone rang.

"Hi Stephen, it's Julie from Big Brother"
"Hi there. Just thought you'd like to know... at the end of the day, we go through other contestant's videos.. and we've changed our minds about our decision with you. Do you want to come in tomorrow at about 11am?"
"... Excuse me?"
"Yeah, just say that Julie called you back. Okay! Thank you!


Check that out.

I told Hugh the good news, and we both were very happy about the turn of events. And that's where I've been today. Filled out the 52-page giant form of giantness. Had a discussion with other potential candidates; one of which didn't know who Barack Obama was. No doubt he'll end up in the house. I was then taken to an impromptu Diary Room, and was asked questions by one of the Big Brother producers/voices. I was mainly asked about my humour, my background, my songwriting and my veiws on life. I was then asked for a 20-second soundbyte to say why I should be chosen.

It's a weird feeling. Part of me doesn't want anything to do with Big Brother, part of me thinks "this is so funny I've been able to get this far without trying", and the tiniest part of me thinks... this might be fun.

Only time will tell.

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