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2007/214/1 Chair, diary room, metal / wood / cloth / plastic, made by Pacific Furniture Design, Southport, Queensland, Australia, used by Southern Star in the television series 'Big Brother', Coomera, Queensland, Australia, 2004. Click to enlarge.

'Big Brother' diary room chair

Made
This chair has significance as an emblem of the reality television series 'Big Brother'. It has the familiar design that became a feature of 'Big Brother' and was possibly the most recognisable chair in the country in 2004.

'Big Brother' has been one of the most enduring examples of the relatively new genre of 'reality television'. Produced in Australia by Endemol Southern Star and hosted by Gretel Killeen, it has screened on Network TEN each year from 2001. A group of single, young contestants, known as housemates, live for many weeks with no communication with the outside world in a specially built 'Big Brother House' where their lives are filmed around the clock for television. The broadcasts, which usually consist of edited segments, allow viewers to listen in on their private conversations and watch from dozens of hidden cameras. Each week one housemate is evicted by a public vote. At the end of the series the last remaining contestant is declared the winner and receives a cash prize.

The arrival of 'Big Brother' in Australia in 2001 aroused curiosity and criticism, but 2.8 million viewers tuned in to the final eviction --- the year's highest-rating non-sporting event. Other reality shows came and went, but 'Big Brother' became an annual event. More than 2 million viewers watched the first episodes in 2002 and 2003. The fourth series, which commenced on 2 May 2004 and concluded on 26 July, was won by Trevor Butler, with Bree Amer coming second. A controversial moment came during the live eviction of Merlin Luck, who staged a silent political protest by holding a sign saying 'Free the refugees'.

Like game shows, reality television usually places 'ordinary' people in actual situations where the outcome is uncertain and not everything is scripted. Reality-based formats can be observational, or take the form of a competitive challenge or a makeover. Critics of the genre claim it is a misnomer, as the 'reality' is contrived. As with game shows, many reality shows were local productions based on formats developed overseas and re-created for the local market. 'Big Brother' was originally produced in the Netherlands by Endemol.

Production companies found that reality-based formats were less expensive, marketable alternatives to conventional programming. By encouraging the audience to vote, they developed a powerful two-way connection (and another way of making money). As in the days of vaudeville, the audience had a chance to boo people off the stage, evicting participants by phone and SMS rather than with catcalls and hisses. Programs involving a competition or challenge, like 'Survivor', 'Big Brother' and 'The Block', could turn petty conflicts into mythic spectacle. They created popular heroes and pantomime villains, winners and losers, and moments of conflict resolution. They generated a buzz and built to a climax that presented opportunities for 'event programming', with spectacular live broadcasts.

Summary

Object No.

2007/214/1

Object Statement

Chair, diary room, metal / wood / cloth / plastic, made by Pacific Furniture Design, Southport, Queensland, Australia, used by Southern Star in the television series 'Big Brother', Coomera, Queensland, Australia, 2004

Physical Description

Chair, diary room, metal / wood / cloth / plastic, made by Pacific Furniture Design, Southport, Queensland, Australia, used by Southern Star in the television series 'Big Brother', Coomera, Queensland, Australia, 2004

Armchair with a large rectangular base. Upholstered in light purple fabric on the armrests and base, with a two-toned pattern of darker purple on the seat, back rest and head rest. The seat shows signs of wear. Small metal plates beneath base for attaching the chair to floor. Includes a large piece of the same upholstery material used as a cover for the chair.

Production

Notes

Designed and made by Pacific Furniture Design, Unit 20, The Factory Outlet Centre, The Brickworks Annex, Warehouse Road, Southport, Queensland 4215

History

Notes

In 2004, during the fourth series of the Australian television production 'Big Brother', individual housemates were required to go to the 'diary room' and sit in this chair, where they would converse with the disembodied voice of Big Brother and nominate other housemates for eviction. Viewers heard what the housemates revealed about each other and about living in the house.

A different chair has been used for each series. In 2006 Endemol Southern Star lent this chair to the Powerhouse Museum for an interactive display in the exhibition 'On the box: great moments in Australian television'. Visitors would experience being a housemate on 'Big Brother' by individually sitting in the chair in a small 'Diary Room' where he/she was monitored via a live camera feed in the TV studio control room nearby. The visitor would hear specially recorded comments and instructions from Big Brother, and had the opportunity to complete the tasks he set. Meanwhile, other visitors would use the control room to put together a simulated 'live broadcast' of the program. Using the vision switching controls, they assembled a program from multiple elements, including the live camera feed, genuine pre-recorded 'Big Brother' footage, superimposed text, graphics and animations provided by Endemol Southern Star. Transition buttons allowed visitors to create special effects and cross-fading. They could view their selections on the output monitors - the two large screens above the control panel. The experience was popular with young visitors to the exhibition. Endemol Southern Star donated the chair after the closure of the exhibition.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Endemol Southern Star, 2007

Acquisition Date

17 December 2007

Cite this Object

Harvard

'Big Brother' diary room chair 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 24 February 2021, <https://ma.as/376832>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/376832 |title='Big Brother' diary room chair |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=24 February 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}