Original Big Bro: we told housemates to blame the editing

Get out of jail card for misbehaving HMs

Think the editing of Big Brother 2014 is a little wonky? Spare a thought for the original Big Brother who copped the blame for housemates who behaved badly.


This week Peter Abbott, the first ever Executive Producer of the show (from 2001 – 2003), appeared on the ABC’s Reality Check and spilled the revelation that housemates who made a fool of themselves were purposely told to blame it on the editing:

On a show like Big Brother we used to tell them to say that. If they’d made a mess of their time in the house, the psychologist would… the first thing they’d come out of the house, before they did any interviews… would say “just say we edited you badly”.


The truth is as a producer you’re absolutely motivated to get the story as right as you can. You can’t put words in their mouth, you can’t make them do things. When they come out it doesn’t go so well sometimes. And they don’t like it about themselves so it’s easier for them to say “oh it was just the editing”.


The admission received gasps from the audience and fellow panel members. Peter Abbott is considered the pioneer of Big Brother in Australia and he was the first ever Australian voice of Big Brother.

His admission hits home for the infamous ‘Gretel Incident’ of 2006 where housemate Michael blamed editing for misconceptions about him kissing ‘gay farmer’ housemate Dave. His claim of bad editing resulted in a scathing response from host Gretel Killeen:

Will 2014 housemates David and Gemma claim the same defence of bad editing when they are evicted?

Earlier in the episode Peter Abbott dismissed the current season of Big Brother and said the format has become too stunt based:

Host Tom Ballard: Big Brother didn’t waste any time in stirring up trouble, on Day 1 he offered housemates Katie and Priya $10,000 each if they accepted the entire house would have to live on protein shakes for a week. Peter, is this the sort of stunt you would have pulled when you were running the joint?


Peter Abbott: Ah, no. It changes the nature of the show from being kind of a zoo to a circus I think. And I think it’s somewhat at the peril of the format because if you create an expectation amongst the contestants there will be a stunt they don’t just get on with their everyday life, and they wait for the excitement of the stunt and the audience does the same thing. I remember the Executive Producer of the German show a bit after their third year, they’d gone very stunt based and he said the only thing they could do now is to actually kill some one!

Australian viewers can watch the full episode of Reality Check on ABC iView where Peter explains how he became the Big Brother voice.

Do you think Big Brother in 2014 is too stunt based? Leave us a comment below or join us in our discussion forums.

Also on Behind Big Brother

20 Replies to “Original Big Bro: we told housemates to blame the editing”

  1. Good to see the original Big Brother of Australia <3 and i agree with him, it has become too much about the "twists" the "stunts", "whats coming next" i miss when it was just about watching the housemates as normal human beings to be honest, when they would forget they're on tv and pull jokes and stunts themselves out of boredom, when they have constant twists,games etc.. to play, they would always remember where they are and what is behind those "mirrors" and never in my opinion, truly forget about the cameras and let go

  2. Wow brings back memories of what a man hating bitch Gretel could be to male housemates – wasn’t Michael given insider/mischief tasks designed to make us hate him?I thought he was good value but it’s a long time ago now!

  3. Interesting read with Peter Abbott. I do think Big Brother is more stunt based, now. Nothing will top the original Big Brother. It was fresh, new, nobody had an idea. They were all just themselves. Now it`s more of a Bondi on the Beach setting, best bods possible. As for the blame it on the editing, you`d have to be in the house to see, I think they`d focus on the main things happening in the house, what people in there say and do, they do. If they come out looking like the baddy, easy enough to say it was strongly edited. So much like The Lord Of The Flies, the stronger personalities dictate, they get in with the circle of friends, those they consider less than suitable, they`ll corner, gang up on. Not a nice set up at all. First Big Brother was a fine example of how it should be, they had their dislikes but not to the extent it is now.

  4. Loved Gretel too..Sonias a sweetie though. I can’t get into B.b this year, seems each time I turn it on theres another INTENSE discussion on something. Miss the laughs of the old days.. ah well, it might get better.

  5. In regards to Abbott trying to portray the story “as right as you can” – I feel this may have only been the case from 2001-2003, when Abbott was in charge. I don’t think the show we’re getting these days is “as right as [the producers] can” portray it…

  6. I so agree with this. These days it isn’t about “getting the story as right as you can”…it’s about producers using the footage that matches the story arc they want the audience to believe, or what they think the audience wants to see. Instead of the producers taking the housemates’ lead, it’s about the producers leading the housemates. Once upon a time, live streaming gave viewers the opportunity to see what was actually happening, and to make up their own minds about people and situations. Now it’s all about controlling what the public see and thus what they think and how they vote.

  7. I never watched BB on channel ten, but I can honestly say that 9 minute youtube clip was more compelling than anything I have seen during two seasons on channel nine.

  8. I was looking forward to it this year, but over it already. Too many young kids in there. Best year was when they had the older ones. It’s just like a school yard show now, not worth watching.

  9. I completely forgot about the Gretel incident. Eight years ago, I watched this and came out so confused because I saw both sides of the “discussion”. Now (and maybe in light of this article), I am totally team Gretel on this but I find it interesting that she was just as sick of the “editing” excuse (ie, she had no idea herself that the contestants were being fed this line…).

  10. how can you say tame, when only watching 30 min of show. think that is plain dumb. oh wait, I only saw one sentence of your comment, I wont read anymore since it is so “stupid”

  11. Honestly, as an American watching your version, I can speak for us all in saying Australia actually has THE BEST english-speaking Big Brother on TV…We just finished our season, and we are all tuned into and discussing yours now. I think the sentiments in the US about ours are the same as your sentiments are about yours. We hate ours the way it has become, and we wish our producers would see how much we prefer yours so they could make the changes here.

  12. YES!! I, too, am an American watching the Australian show right now. US BB16 was so boring this year. After seeing the format of the Australian show, I wish the US show would implement some of their features such as houseguests nominating instead of the HoH, speaking to Big Brother as a person, hearing the Big Brother side of the DR sessions. BBAU is all around better than BBUS, in my opinion, and I’m happy to see another American who agrees!

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