It seems as if every season of Celebrity Big Brother kicks off with the audience saying ‘Wasn’t this just on?’
Well, ‘yes, sort of’ is the answer to that: the last Celeb season wrapped up in January with toothsome geordie Scotty T crowned winner, and the normal people (I use this phrase loosely) Big Bro wrapped just 2 days ago, which seems like hardly enough time to de-scumify the house after a dozen party-loving, chore-hating reprobates living there for 8 weeks.
Anyway, on to the show, in which eternally elegant Emma Willis wheels out a collection of semi-recognisable rejects from Geordie Shore, Ex on the Beach, porn, youtube, the ’80s and er, Storage Hunters.
First in was eternally upbeat panto Dame and bona fide reality TV veteran, Christopher Biggens. Biggens has done it all: Panto, Porridge, more Panto, and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.
Most Likely To Say: Some obscure Bette Davis quote
Least Likely To Say: “The level of intellectual discourse in this house is stimulating” followed immediately by “OH, NO IT ISN’T!”
Next in was the obligatory Loose Woman, Saira Khan, who is a bit of an Annie McNoFace to be honest.
These Loose ladies always make the mistake of trying to interview everyone constantly, but most CBB contestants have the emotional range of a basketball and so do not make good interview fodder. Anyway, she was in The Apprentice, describes herself as “gobby” and immediately got Arianna Grande’s name wrong so I sort of like her a bit.
Most Likely To Say: “Let’s have an in-depth chat about Brexit ?”
Least Likely To Say: “I just want to sit in a state of silent contemplation now”
Next in, Frankie Grande ‘Youtuber’ (yes, this is a valid career now apparently) and brother of infamous donut-licker, Arianna Grande, who EXPLODED on to the stage in a cloud of glitter and fierce posing.
I want to be snarky, but his entrance was so ebullient that it was fabulous. High energy housemates are annoying to live with and this makes them TV gold. PLUS as an American (who has already appeared in the US BB) he is more aware of the game-playing needed to win.
Most Likely To Say: “Sissy that walk! Purse first!” before cartwheeling around the house
Least Likely to Say: “No thanks, I have enough glitter on already.”
Next in was Ricky Norwood, aka Fat Boy from EastEnders, who was booted from the show after being caught doing something sexy while smoking a spliff on Skype (I don’t want to Google the exact details, thanks).
Big Brother’s Bit on the Side aficionados will recognise frequent panelist Ricky, as he is a legit BB super fan who’s been angling for a spot on the show FOREVER. This could work against him though: the more familiar a contestant is with the show, the more likely they are to be undone by hubris. Yeah, I said it. Remember John Partridge?
Most Likely To Say: “I’m just here for the experience”
Least Likely To Say: “Add me on Skype”
Next, another total blank: Renee Graziano, who apparently appears in a show called Mob Wives.
If I remember my Sopranos correctly, the mob operate under a similar system to Fight Club, with rule number one (apart from ‘snitches
get stitches sleep with fishes’) being never, ever admit to the existence of the mafia.
So why hasn’t anyone put a hit out on her and her gravity-defying derriere?
Most Likely To Say: “Pass the gabagool”
Least Likely To Say: ‘No’, to more ass implants.
Next in was generic Geordie Shorer Marnie Simpson. Blah.
She’s a bisexual, she “speaks her mind” (like, haven’t they realised yet that the people who keep their mouth shut last the longest?) and has the “best looking vagina in Britain”. She was surprisingly modest outside of the VT though, so maybe she won’t be so terrible?
Most Likely To Say: “Does my vagina look big in this?”
Least Likely To Say: “No, thanks – I’ve had enough to drink.”
Next in was this season’s obligatory troll, DJ James Whale (sample quote: “men and woman can never be equal.”)
Is only in the house because first-choice Nigel Farage (Whale’s bestie) wanted a whopping £750,000 to appear. That’s five times more than Biggens, this year’s highest-paid star (£150,000).
Most Likely To Say: “I’m not racist/sexist/homophobic BUT…”
Least Likely To Say: “Three cheers for intersectionality!”
Next in was Aubrey O’Day, who you might remember from such things as 2004’s Making the Band (she ended up in P Diddy-managed girl band Dannity Kane).
She has a degree in political science (!), she’s 32 (“so I get Botox”) and hates Donald Trump, so I guess she’s not all bad? American housemates are always the best, and they usually stick together so let’s hope for a Grande-O’Day-Mafia wife alliance!
Most Likely To Say: “One more procedure and I qualify for a free nose job!”
Least Likely To Say: “I recognise almost everyone in this house.”
Next in was
visibly coked-up energetic Ex On the Beach bum, Steve Bear.
In his VT he was confident and flirty, but when he came out on stage he was so PUMPED UP that he looked like he might throw Emma over his shoulder and climb to the top of the house while fighting off by-planes. And he said he thinks the earth is flat (seriously), all while wearing sunglasses at night. Terrible.
Most likely To Say: “Seriously, the earth is flat. Seriously.”
Least Likely To Say: “Sunglass at night make me look like a twat, right?”
Next in was ex-X Factorer Katie Waissal. Remember? She was the one who was always forgetting her words and breaking down on stage? Her granny was a prostitute who accused her of ruining her career by drawing too much attention to the family? Anyway, she came across as nervous which is always a bit endearing.
Most Likely To Say: “I don’t want to talk about the X Factor…”
Least Likely To Say: “Check out my nana’s sexy PoF pics”
Next in was Lewis Bloor, another chiselled but rather generic TOWIE-r. Yes, he’s handsome and he likes the ladies, but so does literally everyone else on these shows.
What else is there to say? Apart from the fact that he went into the house in Patrick Bateman cosplay, which I guess is sort of unique?
Most Likely To Say: “Hand me my filofax”
Least Likely To Say: “No thanks, I’ve seen enough boobs for one night”
Next was Grant Bovey, formerly Mr Anthea Turner. I recognised him because I’m over 30, but I’m betting at least 98% of the other viewers didn’t.
The best thing about Grant’s entrance was that, like Darren Day, he went in saying he just wanted to correct “public perception” about him being a love rat, etc, but unlike Darren Day, no-one had a clue who he was, so it was totally pointless. And hilarious.
Most Likely To Say: “I was Anthea Turner’s husband? Remember?”
Least Likely To Say: “I’m the poor-man’s Darren Day.”
This next housemate in was Farrah Abraham-alike Chloe Mafia, who you might remember from her brief stint on X Factor. She was the one who, post-X Factor, made the transition from £160 prostitute to founder of a million-pound webcam business. Good for her.
Next was a guy called Heavy D, who apparently is from Storage Wars. Or Storage Hunters. Something storage-y.
Heavy makes his own clothes (and needs to go back to tailoring school since the crotch on his bespoke Ice cream suit was sagging). He’s a “geezer”, the “king of banter” and loves to roar his catchphrase “BOOOOM”.
He sounds like a Tom Hardy character, looks like Jack Black and is very, very loud.
Most Likely To Say: “BOOOOOOOOOOOOM!”
Least Likely To Say: “Give me a pie before I glass you in the boat-race, geezer”
Finally, after what seemed like an unending parade of semi-recognisable faces came a final recognisable face: ’80s siren Samantha Fox, who was no doubt eager to give TV clip-shows a new clip to replace the one of her as a belligerent pissed Dracula on ITV’s short-lived The Club. She seemed nervous, which is always sensible.
Most Likely To Say: “Touch me! Touch me! I wanna feel your body!”
Least Likely To Say: “Pass me the proscecco and fake Dracula fangs.”
Phew! So many housemates! It’s not a great bunch (and where the hell was Mrs Dog the Bounty Hunter?) but who cares, as long as they fight!
On a semi-serious note: there’s been a real shift in the Celebrity BB vibe since Channel 5 has taken over the franchise.
Whereas once all the contestants were washed-up has-beens desperate for another bite of the fame cherry, enduring the humiliation of BB was a sort of penance necessary for winning back public favour. Appearing in it meant that you had reach your career nadir and knew it.
Now there’s an air of legitimacy to the proceedings: it’s seen as just another reality TV show with no more or less stigma attached to it than to Geordie Shore, Ex on the Beach, TOWIE or the I’m a Celebrity (Just Kidding I Slept With A Footballer) – Get Me Out of Here.
I must admit, this unironic verve does reduce the schaudenfreude somewhat. But it also means that the contestants are seasoned reality TV stars: they know that the public like sexy shenanigans, beaucoup bitching and fights that get so intense viewers start wondering if they should call the cops.
Viva la Big Brother!