why not ask the audience?

While we all moan about the state of TV on a Saturday night, I'd hereby like to give a big thank you to the New Kings of Light Entertainment, Messrs Blair and Brown. Now that Ant and Decs' youthful charms are starting to wane, it seems the government has stepped in to produce their natural heirs.

After years of complaining that Pop Idol after American Idol after Big Brother after Little Brother after Fame Academy after I'm Famous and in Some Sort of Academy With My Little Brother so Get Me Out of Here On Ice seem to be basically milking the same old formats, it seems the government has produced a modern interpretation of that most intriguing of spectacles: an old fashioned political dog fight between two heavyweights, probably to the death.

And with the most base, shallow and lurid of interests, Im transfixed.

I know there's something more substantial I should be doing. I know if I just got off my sofa theres a whole world of activities that I could be taking part in that actually affect real life.

I know there are a host of contests and conflicts out there whose results may actually affect something other than the name at the top of Downing Street's headed paper, but I simply just cannot take my eyes away from this lowbrow, cheap distraction.

Like any impartial newcomer to such a contest, I've ended up picking a side in order to add interest to the competition.

And as is good form in this country on such an occasion, I've gone with young Gordon, the plucky regional underdog snapping away for years at the favourite's heels.

Finally sensing a chance of fame and glory, he's stepped up the pace and become a serious contender.

And his campaign has taken on tragic and political qualities beyond even those of the Big Brother house: the secret deal, the patient loyalty, the betrayal by an old comrade, the constant frustration at being outmanoeuvred by his politically savvier opponent.

It really is must see television; something to talk about at the water cooler, or when you've run out of things to discuss on a date. (Alright, maybe thats a step too far: stick to people you vaguely know in common).

Ultimately, though, I know I should stop being so puerile and concentrate on more democratic concerns. Big Brother has its faults.

Many younger people seem to think that there's little point in watching, as contestants seem increasingly to behave and think in the same way in order to secure more votes.

And I really wasn't keen on the introduction of Georgie G into the last series to try and dumb down the principled rivalries in the show through the superficialities of parliamentary politics.

Nevertheless, one thing remains true of the show: our sacred right to vote and have an influence on what happens.

And while I've met many older, more naïve people who insist that the fight between Brown and Blair is not casual entertainment, that if you look beneath the well-polished veneer you can actually witness a complicated and substantial contest which relates to real-life events, you have to put this down to their age.

It won't be long before they come back round to concentrating on more serious issues.

Next time one of them questions your interest in the more serious side of politics, just ask them one question.

How long would we be interested in Big Brother if four almost identical contestants fought for a prize they would all spend in the same way (although different from how they all said they would), and the only influence we had on the decision was to elect from a pre-selected group of their friends a big room of people who would then agree the winner amongst themselves?

But for now, let them have their fun. They'll realise there are more important things eventually.

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