Investigation of Northern perception of the Programme Big Brother Nigeria





1.1   Background to the Study

Reality television, is a broad category that includes a wide range of programs aiming to be both factual and entertaining, it‘s a genre that has become the latest favorite program of viewers which has made its way into the African society. Reality television s significantly proving to be a favorite among Nigerians especially the youth – particularly those who fall within the 18-25 age range (Baumgardner, 2003; Brasch, 2003; Hiltbrand, 2004). Reality television on the whole can be summed up by four characteristics which are the attempted use of passive camera surveillance, illusion of reality, focus on ordinary people, and a certain extent of voyeurism. Although all reality programs share these traits, it is difficult to define reality television as a self-sufficient genre because it draws from a number of genres.

Reality television continues to grow and change, like many programs on television. The fact that the genre has qualities from many different genres not only makes it difficult to define, but it also makes it versatile because of its ability to draw frommany genres.

Reality television definitions by various scholars such as; Hill (2002:326) describes reality television as factual entertainment and further identifies three sub-genres of factual entertainment namely observation programs, information programs and programs created for television. Observation programs refer to documentaries about ordinary people in everyday places. Information programs include documentaries based on true stories that aim to tell viewers something, e.g. about medical emergencies and pets.

According to Roscoe (2001) and Malakoff (2005) both reflect that reality television programs where real people who are often placed in extraordinary situations where their every moment is recorded as they react to their surroundings. Thus, as Roscoe (2001) further notes, the conventional boundaries between fact and fiction, drama and documentary and between the audience and the text are blurred. There are now African versions of Fear Factor, The Biggest Loser and Idols. Various other African countries have versions of these shows under different names. Big Brother is a Dutch reality competition television franchise created by John de Mol Jr., first broadcast in the Netherlands in 1999, and

subsequently syndicated internationally.The show features contestants called “housemates” or “HouseGuests” who live together in a specially constructed house that is isolated from the outside world. The name is inspired by Big Brother from George Orwell‘s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, and the housemates are continuously monitored during their stay in the house by live television cameras as well as personal audio microphones. Throughout the course of the competition, they are voted out (usually on a weekly basis) until only one remains and wins the cash prize. (Wikepedia, BB Naija2023)

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Big Brother is also a reality‘ television show in which a group of people are brought together in a large house, isolated from the outside world, and made to live together while being continuously watched by television cameras – a concept borrowed from George Orwell‘s fictional dystopia of Oceania, a world of never- ending surveillance in the novel 1984. The dictator who watches over the citizens of Oceania is Big Brother, whose terrifying slogan is ‘Big Brother is watching you‘. In the Big Brother television show the house-confined contestants compete to avoid eviction so as to win the prize money.

Big Brother Nigeria with an estimated viewership of more than forty million(40,000,000) across Africa is the African version of the reality game show Big Brother, however, with the growth of satellite television in Africa, Big Brother debuted on the continent in 2003 and has roused African audience interest since its debut. Seasons one to three included twelve contestants from twelve countries. The fourth season (BBA Revolution) featured 25 housemates from 14 different African countries introduced Mozambique and Ethiopia; this was the first season with 14 countries while season five of BBA (All Stars) featured fourteen former BBA contestants. Season six (BBA Amplified) bringing together 26 housemates from 14 countries.

Season seven (BBA Star Game) the cash prize was raised to US $300,000, 35 contestants constituted 14 pairs called BBFs (Big Brother Friends) and seven VIP celebrity housemates from 14 countries. Season eight (BBA the Chase) with 28 housemates and as $300 000 cash prize. The current one which is the Ninth season titled Big Brother Africa Hotshots which is the focal point of this study. This year open auditions were held in the same 14 countries as the previous season (The Chase) with the only exception being Angola which was replaced by new-comers Rwanda. Although Angola is the only country left out from the original 12 participating countries, this year Dstv premiered a local Angolan Portuguese version, Big Brother Angola. Additional auditions were held in Mozambique so viewers can expect a little extra surprise this season.


As of 15 August 2021, there have been 504 seasons of Big Brother in over 62 franchise countries and regions. English-language editions of the program are often referred to by its initials “BB”  The title of many Spanish-language editions of the program is translated as Gran Hermano (GH The term Big Brother originates from George Orwell‘s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four,as earlier stated with its theme of continuous oppressive surveillance.The program also relies on other techniques, such as a stripped back-to-basic environment, evictions, weekly tasks and competitions set by Big Brother, and the “Diary Room” (or “Confession Room”) where housemates convey their private thoughts to the camera and reveal their nominees for eviction. (Wikepedia, BB Naija 2023)

However, the BBN show has also been praised for producing new bonds between otherwise disconnected people. BBN lies in its representation of an African originated program whose agenda is not the usual wars and natural disasters represented in European news agendas. Roscoe (2001) posits that Big Brother is constructed around performance because cameras force the participants to perform for the audiences as well as the other housemates so as to avoid nomination. Roscoe also shows how Big Brother assumes its audience to be highly media literate and adolescents and youths (young adults) seem to fit this category of audiences.

However, the research examined how a controversial reality television show like Big Brother Nigeria is been perceived by the North and how it has influenced the behaviors of youths and contributed to their socio-cultural values.


1.2   Statement of the Problem

Every Northerner is obliged to keep away from images and movies which provoke desire and push one to do sinful actions such as masturbation and other immoral related acts. There is no doubt that watching them and persisting in doing so is a major sin, because there is no minor sin if one persists in doing it. This is the major concern and problem of the Kaduna North with BBnaija. The North sees and perceive the television programme as a tool use in promoting immoral, nude and indecent lifestyle among the youths and all the populace at large.

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1.3   Research Questions 

The following questions were formulated to guide this study:

  1. Do the resident in Chikun local government and Kaduna North at large watch Big Brother Naija and what is the level of their viewership?
  2. Has the Big Brother reality show contributed to the immoral and wayward lifestyle among youths in Chikun local government, Kaduna North, Nigeria and Africa at large?
  3. Does Big Brother Naija reality show have influence on the youth in Chikun local government, Kaduna North and their values?


1.4   Objective of the Study             

This study was designed to examine how the North sees and perceive Big Brother naija reality television show using Chikun local government Kaduna North as a key study and its influence on the youths in Nigeria and Africa at large.

The objectives are:

  1. To determine if the Northern region of kaduna specifically Chikun local government watch Big Brother naija reality show and to what extent do they watch the show.
  2. To find out if the Big Brother reality show contributed to the immoral and wayward lifestyle among youths in Kaduna North,Chikun local government, Nigeria and Africa at large.
  3. To know if the Big BrotherNaija  have an influence on Kaduna North


1.5   Significance of the study  

As mentioned in the above discussion, reality television has emerged as a strong competitor for traditional programming in the television arena. This is evident from the many reality shows being broadcast on Digital satellite television (Dstv) such as Survivor, The Amazing Race, The Apprentice, On Site and Pop Idols. The fact that these shows are scheduled for prime time broadcast also supports the prominence and popularity of reality television shows. Not only is the genre very popular among its target audience, but low production costs also contribute to making reality television the genre of choice for production companies and broadcasters.

The findings of this study will lay a foundation for further research on the effects of reality television programs or viewership on the Nigerian society, the North and the youths especially. Although not much study has been done on Big Brother Naija generally, this paper presents an up-to-date empirical analysis of the aforementioned and made use Chikun local government in Northern Kaduna region perspective as samples for generalization.

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