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Big Brother Seeks Paranormal Investigator for New Series

Dave Wood takes a light-hearted look at Channel 4’s Big Brother’s latest ‘twist’ and what it is saying about a media-driven field.

The other day I was surprised to open my email to find a message from a ‘Big Brother Assistant Producer’ – an employee of Endemol UK – saying “we are looking for ghost hunters/paranormal investigators like yourself to become housemates” on Big Brother 10.

Questionable grammar aside, this led me to think about this rather predictable concept. Playing on the popularity of the field, Big Brother is an imaginable next step. ‘Paranormal investigators’ seem to be on every channel. Even ‘celebrities’ are getting in on the act. Recent ‘ghost hunters’ range from Girls Aloud and the cast of Emmerdale to Myleene Klass and Robbie Williams.

Though perhaps more worrying is the ‘ghost hunter’ trying to become a celebrity. The popular media discusses ad nauseum the ‘cult of celebrity’ and how everyone with no discernable talent wants to become a celebrity. This cliché seems disproportionately true amongst paranormal investigators. It takes little talent to wave an EMF meter and crystal around in your local pub after hours, or in a nearby paranormal tourism location, but a noticeable minority of such people seem determined to launch a media career.

A near continuous stream of ‘investigators’ post messmessages to their website discussing their work on ‘an exciting and secret new television production’.

In most cases the messages disappear and nothing comes of it. In a few cases the lucky investigators might see a slot or two on late night television, and then disappear without trace.

Perhaps the worrying aspect of this TV trend is the increasing tendency for ‘investigators’ to focus on the visual and the entertaining. Investigation methods are, then, designed for their visual appeal. Then speculative videos are placed on YouTube, or similar. This need for ‘visual appeal’ yet further reinforces the ‘need’ for waving around a series of scientifically useless gadgets. A scientifically useful investigation would hardly make for good television.

With this 'Big Brother' opportunity in the air, the media-driven trend is likely to increase. Whilst most seekers of a 'TV career' seem doomed to fail, one could imagine that appearing in Big Brother 10 (where even the ‘talents’ of a ‘ghost hunter’ would dwarf the other housemates) is the best thing a ghost hunter could do to launch a real TV career.

Needless to say I will not be applying.

However, anyone interested can "contact [Endemol UK] with a contact number and a few lines about yourself and send it to [email protected]”.