Initial Story Of Sir Peter Bazalgette
Sir Peter Bazalgette – The initial contestants of the first season of Big Brother had no idea what fame and money awaited them once they had experienced their “This-is-Davina-please-don’t-swear” moment.
As the first “reality” TV stars in a time before social media, they had no way of knowing if anyone was even watching, let alone if they would automatically become famous when the closed-circuit cameras stopped recording.
It appears that the reality TV format has managed to preserve its contentious appeal, even if it may have lost some of its innocence, as the nation remains transfixed by the antics of Matt Hancock and his fellow participants on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here, which concludes this weekend. The presence of Hancock enabled watching numbers to surpass 10 million.
The former health secretary’s engagement has more to do with politics than entertainment, according to Sir Peter Bazalgette, who is credited with “creating” reality television. The former Royal Television Society president said, “He plainly determined to go in as soon as he was snubbed by Rishi Sunak outside Downing Street.”
I don’t watch reality TV, though. Too many busmen’s holidays are being taken.
Sir Peter Bazalgette’s Shocking Statement
Our interest in watching real-life dramas play out on television seems unabated, as seen by the resurgence of the celebrity series Love Island and the revelation that ITV may remake Big Brother. These programmes offer many people a diversion from the constant discussion of international conflict, climatic change, the economic crisis, and political upheaval.
The revival of some of the programmes he developed more than two decades ago, according to 69-year-old Bazalgette, who is stepping down as chairman of ITV after six years in the position and nine years on the board, demonstrates how difficult it is to come up with a brand new ratings winner.
He was accused of bringing “a plague to British broadcasting” when he introduced Big Brother in the UK in 2000. TV critic Victor Lewis-Smith said he had “done more to debase television over the past decade than anyone else.”
The Victorian sewer system was created by Joseph Bazalgette to remove squalor from people’s dwellings, but as the Evening Standard noted at the time, it appeared that his great-great-grandson was doing the opposite.
There is no denying that the former head of Endemol has developed a formula that television executives have been striving to imitate ever since, whether you like or dislike his own brand of dumbed-down TV.
Makeover Magic Described By Sir Peter Bazalgette
He gleefully describes the appeal as a “makeover magic” that dates back to the days when Blue Peter presenters would create a variety of items out of a Fairy Liquid bottle, some sticky back plastic, and a few pieces of wool as we speak in a dressing room at the iconic Television Centre in west London.
He then mentions the shows he created in the late 1990s and early 2000s, saying “You’d watch it happen live, in front of your eyes.”
Ground Force, Changing Rooms, and Ready Steady Cook are all makeover magic programmes, and Blue Peter served as their inspiration.
It is simple to forget how ground-breaking and news-making these shows were when they initially debuted almost 25 years ago. Consider the 1996 television programme Changing Rooms, in which neighbours were given two days and a team of professionals, including Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and Linda Barker, to transform one other’s homes.
After three episodes, Bazalgette remembers becoming the centre of a media frenzy after one participant reported that the flamboyant Llewelyn-Bowen, known for his love of flock wallpaper, had persuaded her best friend to remodel her bedroom in pink with bras hung from the walls.
Sir Peter Bazalgette laughs, “I was on breakfast television and it was all over the front pages of the newspapers. “BBC converted my residence into a tart’s boudoir,” read the News of the World headline.
Changing Rooms attracted up to 10 million viewers at its peak and was so successful that it was transferred to primetime BBC One.Not bad for a concept that was conceived just moments before Michael Jackson, the then-controller of BBC Two, heard it.
“We had come up with a poor concept during brainstorming. I turned to Ann Booth-Clibborn, his co-producer, and said, “This concept sucks, doesn’t it?” as we boarded the Central line at Tottenham Court Road to visit Jackson with this not very good proposal. Before we arrived at TV Centre in White City, we had to make around eight stops to get it right.
“As soon as we arrived at Holland Park tube station, I turned to her and suggested that we trade houses with our neighbours and decorate each other’s rooms. I have no idea how the thought came to me, but it was really urgent. Because we had already had some success, Jackson said, “Yes, I’ll have a pilot of that,” so we went in and pitched it. What have we just sold?! we exclaimed as we stumbled to the elevator.
By that point, Bazalgette had already established himself as a ratings success with Ready Steady Cook, a Fern Britton-hosted budget cooking programme that ran from 1994 to 2000.
Sir Peter Bazalgette’s Idea
Sir Peter Bazalgette came up with the concept of pitting chefs against one another to cook with a £5 bag of ingredients bought by an audience member acting as a sous-chef after producing more than 3,000 episodes of the BBC’s Food and Drink show. Due to the program’s unparalleled success, Bazalgette was given credit for creating the “celebrity chef” in addition to ushering in a new era of cooking shows.
It’s been claimed that I invented the celebrity chef because, in 1984, I persuaded Anton Mosimann to leave the Dorchester and prepare a Sunday supper for a truck driver on a five-pound budget. “That movie, which subsequently expanded into a full documentary, was so well-liked that roughly one in every thirty viewers—or five million people—wrote in asking for the recipe.
“I made Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook and Ready Steady Cook as a result. Food provides comfort as well as meeting a basic human need. A cultural emblem, it is. They adore it. Cooking for someone else is a loving deed.
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But it wasn’t easy to get the show on the box, much like with Changing Rooms. Bazalgette admits, “We did three different pilots with three different presenters. It wasn’t difficult for me to secure celebrity chefs like Ainsley Harriott and Brian Turner because I had previously worked with all of them on Food and Drink and knew they were all television-friendly. But I was unable to perfect the conclusion.
“At first, I believe we planned on giving the winner a week’s worth of free groceries and the loser a wooden spoon, but it just didn’t work out. That’s when we decided to have a red pepper and a green pepper team, and we asked the audience to cast their votes by putting up a red or green pepper sign at the end
“I only ever sat in the audience once, and that was with a friend’s mother. We kept hearing from the floor manager, “Don’t hold the sign the incorrect way up,” Of course, as the show’s creator, I was the only one who misjudged the situation.
With Rylan Clark-Neal presenting, BBC One brought back Ready Steady Cook in 2020, however it was cancelled after after two seasons.
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