Monday, August 21, 2006

Increase your word power with Big Brother

I’m no fan of Channel 4’s Big Brother but I have to admit that this series has been educational. I’ve learned a new word – ‘coprolalia’ – a condition where sufferers can’t help swearing. This is a symptom of approximately 10% of people with Tourette’s Syndrome.

One of these people is Pete Bennett, the obvious favourite to win this year’s programme. He might yell out an embarrassing expletive when he’s nervous but it seems we’ve all taken him into our hearts. In PR terms, Mr Bennett is a big success.

The Observer reports that his win has been hailed as the best PR possible for Tourette’s, despite initial concerns expressed by the Tourette’s Syndrome Association that Pete was being exploited and that his language problem would reflect badly on all sufferers.

The Sun however describes the win as ‘causing havoc with the schedules’ as Pete’s involuntary outbursts mean that he can’t appear on live television before the watershed (presumably because little darlings who should be in bed by 9pm have never hear of the W word!).

This series of the programme itself had some stormy moments in PR terms. Earlier this month, the premium phone line regulator ICSTIS started investigating 2700 complaints from viewers who had voted housemates off the programme only to see four of them reinstated. This followed the golden ticket fiasco when the winner, Suzie Verrico gained more exposure than she bargained for with allegations of her ticket being fixed.

The important thing was that the series ended on a positive note with a popular choice of the overall winner. Public opinion is likely to gloss over the earlier problems and feel well-disposed towards the series, which means (oh joy of joys) it will be back next year.

Filed under:
Channel 4    Big Brother    Tourette's    Observer    Sun    ICSTIS

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