In today's Sunday Times Bryan Appleyard lays into reality TV in general, and Big Brother in particular - though his real target seems to be the reverse snobbery of a patronising cultural elite.
One aspect of Big Brother* he omits to mention, however, is the absolute moral rigidity of the format. That may sound counterintuitive, but if you think Big Brother is merely symptomatic of a culture where anything goes and appalling anti-social behaviour is rewarded, then you've not understood it at all.
Big Brother is, in essence, an opportunity for the British public to observe the inmates with God-like ominiscience and enforce moral judgements upon them. Every single time, without fail, the villains are evicted at the first opportunity, even though they provide the supposed 'entertainment'. The good guys always win.
The interesting thing is examining exactly what constitutes villainy. It has nothing to do with being foul-mouthed, short-tempered or sexually licentious. No, the biggest BB sin is deviousness. The British public just cannot seem to abide sneakiness, backstabbing and snake-in-the-grassity.
Further evidence of this can be seen in the ill-feeling bubbling away in water-cooler land towards The Apprentice's Katie - a classic two-facer who cuddles up to her fellow contestants, then crucifies them with brilliantly eloquent vitriol in the 'privacy' of the to-camera soliloquy.
Of course, in the real world, we much prefer people to insult and bitch behind our backs than directly to our faces. People who tell you to your face that they don't like you are just rude, friendless boors. Whereas we all gossip to some degree. Perhaps our guilt about this is why backstabbing is the biggest reality TV sin.
*With extraordinary and quite frightening prescience, I recently remarked casually to Mrs B something along the lines of: "Of course, if they really want to stir things up in Big Brother they should have an entire house of women and then stick in a male model."
This is exactly what they've done. Perhaps I should get a job as patronising cultural elitist.