Gather ’round children, and let me tell you about a time before MAFS and The Bachelor, when reality TV was about more than just strangers pretending to fall in love.
T’was a new millennium. We’d survived Y2K, LeAnn Rimes was at the top of the charts, and a woman named Gretel Killeen and her hairpieces beamed through our cube-shaped TVs on a show called Big Brother.
That formative slice of reality television ran for a whole eight seasons on Channel 10 before being canned in 2008. It was then revived by Channel 9 in 2012 for three more seasons, because, kids, it was just that good.
In the years since, the Big Brother mansion has been left to rot at its Dreamworld home. It now barely stands, a charred relic of its former self, thanks to a bunch of kids who set it on fire last weekend. But our memories of what happened inside those walls live on. Even if we really wish they wouldn’t.
Here are five of the most bizarre things that happened in the Big Brother house.
1. Merlin’s “free th [sic] refugees” protest.
Merlin Luck‘s protest is still one of the most stunning moments in short-but-thorny history of Australian reality TV. And not just because it proved some contestants actually have a conscience.
The 2004 housemate used his live, post-eviction interview to draw attention to the asylum seekers imprisoned on Nauru under the
Morrison sorry, Howard government’s strict border-protection policy. His methods were simple. As he wandered down the ramp to the stage, he taped his mouth shut, whipped out a homemade sign and then just… sat there.
Gretel tried to get him to talk. She really did. But he just kept on jiggling his legs and staring straight ahead, which was uncomfortable for everyone. But hey, we still remember it 15 years later. Maybe he should give it another crack.
Footnote: This is what Merlin looks like now. Just in case you were wondering.