Sydney The reality show Big Brother, which once dominated audience ratings in Australia, has taken its last breath - and critics are breathing a collective sigh of relief. This week, Terri Munro, a 52-year-old retail manager from North Richmond, became the eighth and final winner of the competition, taking home a A$250,000 (HK$1.9 million) cheque. Ms Munro, a divorced grandmother and the oldest person ever to enter the Big Brother House, said she was amazed that 'such an ugly, old lady' got onto the show, let alone won. It was an ignominious final season for Channel Ten's marquee show. And while a cameo by Pamela Anderson saw a ratings spike of 1.4 million, it could not arrest the downward spiral. In its desperation, the network brought in high-profile Sydney radio shock-jocks Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O to host the series, but even this was not enough - especially when Sandilands labelled the programme 'a freak show' and its viewers 'idiots'. According to the critics, Big Brother - which pioneered the reality format in Australia - had simply run out of steam. 'Reality television is the bastard child of documentary,' says Michael Idato, who writes for The Sydney Morning Herald. 'It needs to be populated with characters you love, love the company of, or love to hate. Big Brother 8, astonishingly, had none of the above.' Is it possible that Australia is running out of boorish, crass and obnoxious louts? As the show slipped into oblivion, fans reminisced about the two male housemates who slapped their genitals into the face of a female contestant - and the numerous examples of nudity, verbal abuse and under-the-blanket gropings (all, of course, captured by the cameras). Despite its lengthy run of 1,316 episodes, not everyone was seduced by the Big Brother blend of voyeurism, cruelty and boredom. Some viewers were appalled at the idea of watching housemates chatting inanely, doing the washing up, cleaning their teeth or sleeping. 'If I want to watch a fat [lout] sitting on a couch, eating beer nuts and scratching his crotch, I'll invest in a mirror,' says journalist Richard Glover. 'Big Brother was a barometer of banality.' Others believe that the death of Big Brother cannot be attributed solely to its increasingly repetitive formula, crude language and uninteresting house guests, saying that today's audience has moved on from reality television to real-life documentaries, nature shows and talent contests. 'The first raft of reality TV that made headlines was all about voyeurism,' says Graeme Turner, who teaches critical and cultural studies at Queensland University. 'To some extent it was cashing in on people's humiliation and embarrassment. Now, that seems to be running its course.' Professor Turner believes that viewers now want to watch people on television who possess some kind of talent, intelligence or ability to entertain. Reality television has been superseded by shows such as Australian Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. 'These variety-style talent quests hark back to the earliest days of television,' he said. 'To some extent, we've come full circle.' It is perhaps entirely fitting that the final Big Brother winner should be older, uncool and unattractive. But like the show's Dutch inventor John de Mol (who has a fortune of US$2.2 billion), Ms Munro has no reason to complain about the demise of Australia's shallowest and most pointless show. She plans to spend part of her windfall on a facelift. 'I looked at myself on the telly chewing and I thought I looked awful,' Ms Munro said. 'So I thought I might as well buy myself a facelift, but nothing too drastic.' Sensibly, she is planning to keep her day job at a supermarket.