Ahead of the upcoming series of Big Brother, we caught up with the shows’ narrator – Marcus Bentley – to ask him your questions and get the lowdown on everything Big Brother!
You’ve been doing Big Brother since the very beginning, what is it about the show that makes you want to keep coming back?
It’s May already and my phone has started to ring with all the usual calls regarding Big Brother – the voice over appointments for the promos, the contact with the producers and managers – all in preparation for the annual summer stint of the show that’s employed me for the past 16 years. And I love it. I have friends on the show some I’ve been working with for years and some I’ve yet to even meet. The show is very exciting to work on as literally every week something eventful occurs (sometimes planned , sometimes not!). So I return to the show because I love it.
Can you ever foresee a time when you’ll be sick of it?
Never. The talented producers develop the show constantly and the show is as fresh today as it always has been. As an audience it’s important to be kept on our toes – BB does that year in year out.
Has there ever been a time where you thought you wouldn’t be unable to make it to Elstree?
Once I remember being stuck in standstill traffic on the M25 on my way to the studios to record that day’s show. I was stationary for 4 hours because some poor chap was threatening to jump from a bridge – thankfully he was rescued and I arrived at Elstree very late, but able to record in time.
The last time we spoke with you, Stephen Fry was your ideal celebrity to enter the house. Is he still your front runner?
No I’m over him now, Ha! I would currently choose a comedian like Steve Coogan who I reckon would not only be witty, but also a very fascinating person. Loads of depth and funny to boot.
What do you think makes the perfect housemate?
Originality! We don’t want to see the same type of housemate, we want something new! We want to be left with our jaws open, our funny bones tickled and our emotions explored. It’s a long time ago now, but nobody had really seen someone like Jade Goody before – she had what they call , “the X Factor”. That’s what we need , not another Jade , but someone with the X Factor.
There’s talk of both civilians and known personalities entering the house for Big Brother 17 – do you think it’s a good idea?
I have no idea if this is true, but why not? Interesting people interacting is what I want to see and I don’t care what their backgrounds are. The producers need to serve up an enticing show that’s fit for these times, not necessarily a show we were producing 10 years ago.
Who’s your favourite Big Brother “Villain”?
I think the biggest “Villain” ever was Helen Wood, but at times I found watching her uncomfortable. However, she is what she is and she was certainly unique. My favourite so called, “Villain” would have to be the original “Nasty Nick” Bateman. What he did by today’s standards was tame, but he captured the imagination of the public. He helped create the massive popularity of the programme and I’ll be forever grateful.
Are you familiar with some of the international formats and if so – do you think they’d work in the UK?
I don’t watch any other Big Brother. I remember E4 broadcasting a repeat of Big Brother Africa around 13 years ago that I enjoyed, but I’m unfamiliar with other productions.
What is your favourite Big Brother moment EVER?
My favourite ever moments are personal and would include the “Ignore the obvious task” of BB11 when I went into the house and narrated the action live – and in the final episode of Ultimate Big Brother when dressed as a priest I performed a burial service for Big Brother alongside some of my favourite ever housemates – Nasty Nick, Brian Dowling, Nikki Grahame and Ulrika Jonsson.
You have voiced most of the promotional campaigns for Big Brother, do you have a favourite campaign?
My favourite ever campaign to voice was the first ever on Channel 5 with Brian and loads of other ex housemates – I was absolutely thrilled that it was back and my excitement levels were through the roof.
You entered the house during the ‘Ignore the obvious’ task in Big Brother 11 – would you like to do something similar to that in a different task?
Yes I’d love to. It was a great thrill to be inside the house narrating the housemates actions live. I think approximately 5 minutes were shown in the highlights show, but I was actually in the house with the likes of Josie and John-James for about and hour and a half. My favourite moment not screened was when I got into bed with a group of housemates and narrated their actions, “Some of the housemates are in bed talking about sadomasochism”!
Would you ever consider stepping out in front of the camera, and appearing on something like the jump or strictly?
I’d love to do Strictly as I used to be pretty good at dancing in my drama school days and I love the show. However I’d go nowhere near The Jump as its too dangerous and don’t want to end up in hospital.
You are very synonymous with Big Brother – what other type of shows would you love to have a go at voicing?
I’ve narrated lots of other tv programmes over the years. Programmes as diverse as The Biker Roadshow and a sex documentary for Channel 4. But my all time favourite would have to be The Academy for Channel 5 which spent a couple of years following the fortunes of the trainees of Southampton Football Club – I was thrilling to be involved in a project watching budding premier league stars learning their trade. I’d ultimately love to do something similar again.
What has been your favourite series to do the voice over for and why?
Of course there are so many amazing series to choose from – my favourite on Channel 4 being BB 11 and then I loved BB 3 with Jade and Kate Lawler etc and then on 5 I particularly liked the Luke A year and the remarkable Helen Wood winning year ( never saw that coming!) and what about when Aaron won? That was great too. I just can’t choose!
What are you making of Nikki Grahame entering the BB Canada house – and would you like to see any internationals enter BBUK?
Nikki is still probably my all time favourite housemate and is a genuinely unique lady. I haven’t followed her appearance in Canada, but no wonder they wanted her on their show as she is brilliant.
Can you ever imagine life without big brother??
No. BB will still be here in 10 years even if I’m not doing it. It may take a break at some point , but it’ll always return because its amazing and unique tv that is viewed on many platforms. Long Live Big Brother!
Did you ever think you would still be doing the show 16 years on from when it started in 2000.
No. For me it was initially 9 weeks work and I never realised how good it was until about 5 weeks in when Nasty Nick was found out and I said to my wife, “This show has got legs”!