The Circle comes just as Big Brother is finally dying off after Channel 5 aquired it from Channel 4 in 2010, with their first series airing in 2011. Little changed and it was still the same sorts of idiots entering the house and shouting at each other. Since 2011, there’s been a new broom at the channel, and so with no more Richard Desmond to plug the dross in his dire ‘newspapers’, they’ve clearly had enough.
Big Brother has also been superceded by the idiots on Love Island on ITV2, who are prompted to have discussions on things like Brexit, which are then captured and edited and played out in the media as if it was an off-the-cuff conversation.
As for The Circle, this new one is slightly different in that none of the housemates will actually meet each other in the flesh. That only happens on the titular social media site, and with each of the contestants residing in separate apartments, the aim is to impress each other in this popularity contest by showing off with profile pictures, outfits and cool Instagram shots, and avoid being unfriended and blocked. Yeah, sounds a real thrill… except to whoever wins, as they’ll get £50,000 at the end of this three week stint, but if you get blocked, you must leave and someone else moves into your flat.
First up was Aiden (really?!) from Wakefield, who like a lot of da yoof has riddled her body with silly tattoos that she’ll regret before too many years have passed. She got chatting to the second entrant, Dan, a cocky Cockney black bloke. Private messaging is available between the two.
Then there came Jennifer from Newcastle, who’s 40 and married, so why’s she staying away from her family for a time? Either way, she pretended to be an oncologist, or “cancer doctor” for the hard of thinking. Enter another young bloke with a beard, Mitchell (fake name, clearly!), who chatted to Jennifer, who was claiming to be 34, and it did seem a little odd that as soon as she had entered the show, they went to an ad break for Stand Up 2 Cancer.
Kate from London was actually a bloke called Alex from London, as he used pictures of his girlfriend to impress everyone, and he did this so he could win a popularity contest when he wasn’t very popular at school. Here, he’s doing this because his other half is quite fit, and he was once catfished by a man who pretended to be a woman, so fair play to him, as long as his girlfriend knows about this!
20-year-old Freddie announced he was gay, about 300 years after everyone realised – even though he was trying to hide it for the game, Sian is another TOWIE-type portraying a ‘plain Jane’ version of herself, and Genelle brought her young, baby daughter into her flat. She also classes herself as “pansexual”, so that ticks a box for Channel 4’s diversity quota. I think it means she relates to Peter Pan.
They all had to then rate each other out of five stars. Fake Kate came top with 3.28/5, and then Dan who, for most of the time, just gave up and talked to his goldfish…
Jennifer came last with 2.28/5, but despite being 8th out of 8 people, there wasn’t a huge range of scores, so nothing worth getting your underwear in a twist about.
Still, whoever comes top gets to pick someone else for an unseen date called a ‘Hangout’, and it was quite amusing seeing Alex (as Kate) invite Mitchell for a chat… for about 10 seconds, as anything that followed was of zero interest.
I don’t think I’d care to watch any more than one episode of this junk, but if you want more, there’s even an app that can be downloaded for both Android and iOS!
The Circle continues tomorrow night 10pm on Channel 4, and is on every night for three weeks around the same time, except Saturdays. Once broadcast, it will be on All4, and but it won’t be released on Blu-ray or DVD.
Episode 1 Score: 2/10
Alex (as Kate)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.