I came to the surprising conclusion this week that there may be a very simple way to solve the majority of our problems - be they local, national or international. And bizarrely, perhaps, it was reality TV that gave provided that Eureka moment.
OK, reality TV isn't to everyone's taste (although have you noticed that many people who pooh-pooh Big Brother and I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here for example still enjoy the likes of Strictly Come Dancing or The Apprentice which are cut from the same cloth?) but it just may help the world too...
It was while watching the admittedly rather dreary ‘Celebrity’ Big Brother this week that it struck me just how incredibly boring it must be for those who are caught up in this curious jail without bars. Each night we are shown an hour’s worth of ‘highlights’ which are supposed to be the best bits of 24 hours of conversations, tasks, debates, arguments and philosophical discussions. And yet many of these so-called highlights are mind-numbingly trivial which begs the question – what were the other 23 hours like?
The reason that the people involved find it so hard to keep their own pulses racing (let alone ours) is because life inside such an environment lacks all the ingredients that normally make life interesting and challenging. Most of us find our source of debate and conversational interest is centred around the things that all the housemates are deliberately deprived of – their families, their friends, their hobbies, their jobs, sport and, of course TV, newspapers, films and all other forms of media and entertainment.
But what if it was different? What if that free time was used for what they called in Hot Fuzz - “the greater good”?
There are so many issues in our city, our country and the world as a whole that need the sort of full and undivided attention that the equivalent of the Big Brother house could offer, that I can’t help thinking that the Big Brother concept is wasted on the Big Brother contestants. Just imagine if we threw out all the fading pop stars, wannabees-who-will-neverbees and has-beens-who-were-never-really even ‘been-beens’ and put into this locked, distraction-free house a group of experts with a real, important task – one where they would not get “voted out” until they had solved it?
Imagine, for example, in a local sense, if we were to put all the key players in the city involved in transport into the Big Brother house, switched off the TV cameras (so they were not playing to them) and not allow anybody out until they got a workable plan for the city’s transport future? Perhaps they could find a way of avoiding the traffic pictured here....
And if we can do it with transport in Bath then we can do it with everything from world peace to why can’t Gerrard and Lampard play in the same team together.
The idea has certainly worked before. In the 1970s, when unions and bosses were forever at each other’s throats, I can remember that all-powerful organisation called Acas being used to find compromises, and they worked round the clock to find them.
More recently, I recall reading Alistair Campbell’s diaries about the Blair years when he talked about the historic agreement in Ireland which was forged in similar circumstances where people locked themselves in a room and didn’t come out until they had something tangible. He refers to former president Bill Clinton being asked to talk to people in the middle of the night to keep things on track. and that is exactly the kind of “no -one gets outta here until we’ve achieved something” policy that I think could have some legs.
So, as you look around the world and see problems, why not join me in putting forward the idea that a possible solution lies within the most talked about reality house in Britain?
Could it work? As Big Brother would say - you decide!!!