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Mon, 05 Jun 2023 Radio & Television

TV3 'brings' Big Brother to Ghana

TV3 'brings' Big Brother to Ghana
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TV3 entered the media sphere on October 1 in 1997 and since that time it’s been peerless on the television scene. The Kanda-based TV station ain't just "first in news" and "best in entertainment", but it is “first” and “best” in virtually everything in relation to television broadcasting (and I am talking about Ghana, not the whole wide world).

TV3 is currently so far ahead that by the time the other television stations operating in Ghana match its ‘level’, the world would have probably come to an end. Apparently, the other TV stations are just mere statistic, lagging behind like a "tortoise" racing a "cheetah" (no disrespect, please. I am only stating the obvious).

Over the years, the TV network has established itself as the home of ‘original’ TV programming in the country. Whereas the other TV channels mostly telecast imported TV shows and/or TV contents from independent TV production companies (not forgetting the relaying of signals from international broadcasters viz. Aljazeera, BBC, DW TV, et al.), the folks at TV3 have invested in creating, developing, packaging and producing their own TV formats/concepts, albeit often ‘copied’ from other foreign TV programmes. Adesa Productions Limited (APL) was actually set up to oversee and handle all ‘original’ television productions at TV3.

In recent times, the team at TV3 has found its mojo for producing enthralling and entertaining TV shows (especially relationship/dating programmes), that keep increasing the number of eyeballs for the channel, making it the most viewed TV station in Ghana today.

In their quest to continue drawing big TV ratings, TV3 rolled out yet another compelling dating TV show called "Perfect Match Xtra" (PM Xtra) about a fortnight ago. PM Xtra is the sequel to TV3’s blind date show "Perfect Match", which premiered last year on the network. Unlike "Perfect Match", PM Xtra houses the participants together in a residential facility with rotating cameras/microphones capturing and picking every activity and sound in the house, à la Big Brother.

A 24-hour online streaming platform has been created to stream the show live for those interested in watching what the housemates are up to in the PM Xtra house. In addition to this, there are daily slots allocated to broadcasting the live feed on TV3 (Media General should ‘sacrifice’ Onua TV for the 24-hour live feed. LOL.).

A Copycat Version of Big Brother?
It's no denying the fact that TV3’s PM Xtra reality dating TV show bears the imprint of internationally acclaimed Dutch reality TV franchise, Big Brother. And any first time viewer might even mistake it for “Big Brother Ghana” (this version of Big Brother doesn’t currently exist though).

However, the Big Brother show itself is not an original TV concept. The idea for Big Brother stemmed from the "1991 Biosphere 2 experiment" in the Arizona desert (U.S.A.), in which 8 men and women discovered how 'hellish' it is to live together inside an airtight glass and steel geodesic dome, that sought to replicate the Earth's environment.

Big Brother was also inspired by MTV's "The Real World" which first aired in 1992. This MTV show pioneered the concept of putting "strangers" together for an extended period and recording the drama that ensued.

Moreover, the idea of introducing a 24hr/7 live streaming video on the Big Brother show was highly influenced by "Jennicam.org" (defunct since December, 2003). JenniCam was a popular website created by Jennifer Ringley (now known as “Jennifer Johnson”), an American college girl who became an "internet celebrity" in the late 90s and early 2000s after installing video cameras in her college room to share her daily activities with “web watchers” and “netizens”.

That’s not all, the term “Big Brother” was even taken from George Orwell's dystopian novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” (often published as “1984”), with its theme of continuous oppressive surveillance.

So clearly, 'tis not a big deal at all for the producers of PM Xtra to 'copy' some aspects of Big Brother or draw inspiration from it.

The PM Xtra Housemates
When TV3 announced that they were going to launch PM Xtra, some of us were hoping to see new faces on this new TV show. "Everyone deserves love” and there are a myriad of people out there searching for their “perfect match”.

But on that day, some former contestants of "Date Rush" (TV3’s other dating show) were the ones inducted into the PM Xtra house as housemates, much to the disappointment of some viewers (including yours truly).

Even if the organisers wanted to select persons who had taken part in the other dating shows on TV3, it should have been those youngsters who partook in "Perfect Match" last year and got “partners” from the show. After all, this is "Perfect Match Xtra" (PM Xtra)!

If this new show was created to feature “Date Rushers” (people who have taken part in Date Rush), then it should have been named "Date Rush Xtra" (DR Xtra). And this would automatically be the “Part 2” of Date Rush, such that if lovers met on Date Rush and afterwards proved to be in a serious amorous relationship, these “Date Rush couples” would subsequently be housed together with other couples from Date Rush to compete for “best couple prize”.

Considering how very popular Date Rush is, this TV concept too would be another hit show on TV3. There is absolutely no need for a sequel to "Perfect Match" because it is not highly acclaimed as “Date Rush”. It’s only advisable to do a sequel to a TV show if and only if it becomes successful and received rave reviews from the public and/or critics.

The team handling PM Xtra must go back to the drawing-board and “review” this PM Xtra format for next season. It is not too late to make changes to it after the maiden edition.

The PM Xtra House and Happenings therein

TV3 and the show’s sponsors no doubt lacked the wherewithal and big budget to construct a plushy home like the ones we have seen in the various editions and versions of Big Brother screened in different countries across the world. Nonetheless, they deserve a big pat on the back for putting up such an ‘elegant’ housing structure, which looks quite comfy and squeaky clean.

Looking at the live images, I wish the production team could add more cameras so viewers get to see the live feed from more different angles, especially in the bedroom, which looks too small for 10 housemates (the weekly eviction will eventually reduce the number of housemates). The 9 or so cameras in the house are not enough for this kind of elaborate television production. At least, 15 cameras would suffice.

Still on the bedroom, I think the organisers should have gone in for “double beds”, one for each couple. As a matter of fact, those bunk beds in there really make the whole bedroom looks like a dormitory for high school students (free SHS "fuor"! LOL.).

And instead of hanging long boom microphones from the ceiling like chandeliers to pick up sounds from the house, the production team ought to get tiny high-tech microphones that are invisible to camera, like the ones installed in the Big Brother house. The body mics the housemates always don not sufficient to be picking up sounds for TV.

The crew in the master control room (MCR) have been trying very hard to rotate the cameras in a way not to capture those hanging boom mics in the house, but oftentimes the rotating cameras betray them. I am just praying that the microphones don’t fall on any of the housemates.

Besides, I have been wondering why there are no cameras and microphones fixed at the lounge area of the house, knowing very well that the housemates would be spending time there every Friday night. Seeing TV3 cameramen in the background busily filming the housemates as they “party” all night just doesn’t look good on TV.

So far, the show has witnessed some squabbles and dramas, which mostly originated from the Date Rush show. Some of the housemates have a history together which dates back to Date Rush, and so, if you place these same characters under the same roof, issues from that past would surely crop up.

Right from the outset of the show, my ‘worry’ has always been how the housemates are inundated with excessive supply of food items to the extent that they take gleeful delight in wasting them, something they would not do in their individual homes.

For this reason, a limited ration of food must be provided to add a “survivalist” element to the show, just as it is sometimes done on Big Brother. The housemates must be starved like “prisoners of war” from time to time, or better still, the organisers should build a "piggery" near the PM Xtra house so as to be carting the tonnes of surplus food generated in the PM Xtra house to this facility.

Is it possible for the production team to install cameras in the bathroom for “shower hours” like Big Brother? This is definitely tongue-in-cheek, chale!

The Hosts
Since PM Xtra (Perfect Match Xtra) is the continuation of “Perfect Match”, I was expecting that Helen Appiah-Ampofo, who had hosted the maiden edition of “Perfect Match”, would be asked to take charge of the "-Xtra" edition too.

Another on-air TV3 personality I thought could also effortlessly host PM Xtra was AJ Akuoku-Sarpong, who had shown at her previous workplace (Citi FM/TV) that she has the gravitas to handle dating/relationship programmes.

Surprisingly, TV3 opted for Thiery Nyann and Adwoa Noella or Vanessa Donkor (as she now wants to be called) as hosts of PM Xtra. Honestly, these two were simply not up to the task. Thiery and Noella were such a colossal flop that AJ (the “Radio Princess” herself) had to be brought in last Saturday to salvage the show.

Thiery may be good at presenting sports programmes on TV3, but hosting a dating/relationship show is just not his forte. If TV3 ever create a sport reality show (like MTN Soccer Academy which used to air on Metro TV), they could ask him to host it.

For Vanessa Donkor (Adwoa Noella), she is still a budding TV presenter and must “understudy” her seasoned colleagues like Berla Mundi and Anita Akua Akuffo. She often seemed overwhelmed and tongue-tied on the show, which is a clear indication that PM Xtra is beyond her. TV3 shouldn’t ‘rush’ this lass who looks very promising on the media scene. Asking Noella to host a TV show of that magnitude is just like placing a "deep freezer" on the head of a "teenager".

By: Eugene Selorm Owusu

Eugene Selorm Owusu
Eugene Selorm Owusu

Media Practitioner/WriterPage: EugeneSelormOwusu

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