Tensions are running high inside the Celebrity Big Brother house. Repellant inmates Perez Hilton and Katie Hopkins have stirred up emotions to breaking point. Ian Probert takes a look at the most explosive CBB ever.
The concept is admittedly not without some allure: assemble a selection of random people who have never met, lock them in a room with no access to the outside word, starve them of the everyday mental stimulus of books, TV, Twitter, etc. and wait for the fallout. I’m talking, of course, about Big Brother, a television programme whose psychological fallout over the past decade has regularly been of sufficient quantity to attract the vast advertising revenues necessary to mount an enterprise such as this.
But I’m not going to waste time and energy Googling and then regurgitating the history of this largely futile annual event. We all know what it is. We all know what is involved. And anybody who possesses the merest sliver of free thought and good taste will already have exorcised Big Brother from their lives. The same goes for Celebrity Big Brother, or should I say Nonentity Big Brother, which seeks to serve up more of the same using more random people with false lips, hair plugs and plastic tits.
The only problem is… I’m a little bit hooked on the latest one. Well more than a little bit.
Let me tell you how I got hooked: There are reasons as to why it happened and these are more to do with good luck than any divine pre-planning on the part of the programme makers. By nothing but sheer accident the collection of inmates (I say ‘inmates’ rather than ‘housemates’) that have been gathered together in the Big Brother glasshouse offer a curious symbiosis that might be compared to sugar and fat: individually these substances are bad enough – but in combination they are artery-threateningly addictive. See for yourself:
First into the house was the frighteningly offensive Katie Hopkins, she of the cruel and brutal Twitter attacks on fat people, poor people, working-class people, unusually named people; essentially anyone who isn’t Katie Hopkins. But Katie hides a secret: the reasons for her intermittent attacks on the rich and famous are because she wants to be rich and famous herself. She’s just as bad, in fact even worse than the people she pretends to vilify. Witness her continual attempts to appear on ANY television programme that will tolerate her bile.
As the series progresses we learn that she was in fact a Guinea Pig on the very first BB. No offence to any Guinea Pigs out there. Some of us watched with horror at her attempts to charm Sir Alan on the Apprentice; others were equally appalled when she intentionally gained three stones for a TV programme and then failed to shed that weight and then pretended that was her original intention. Katie likes to attack: this is evident from the first few moments of the opening night. Katie will attack anyone within spitting distance if there is a slight chance of a contentious comment. Katie will even attack the people she most wants to be, i.e everybody else in the CBB prison.
Yes, it’s difficult not to sound like Katie Hopkins when you are talking about Katie Hopkins.
Next to enter (and I don’t care that I could be wrong about the order of incarceration) is someone called Perez Hilton, who, because I’d never heard of him (as you will learn, this is a common motif), I had assumed must be related to Paris Hilton. Not so. Perez is called Perez because he loves Paris, the person not the city or the song. OK. Fair enough. Perez, we learn, is an acid-tongued failed-actor-cum-celebrity-blogger who has somehow made the transition to nonentity. Watching Perez interact with others quickly becomes like watching a possum fighting a cobra; except I’m not sure which of these animals Perez is.
Like Katie, Perez hates almost everyone. And like Katie, Perez is interested in one person only. Already the seeds of an epic battle of bitches has been laid. And as we watch through cupped hands we see Perez swear (a lot), swear, cry, curse, laugh, threaten to shove his ‘big dick’ up another inmates bottom, strip, dance, sing, cry, simulate sex, swear. If I was his dad I’d put him on the naughty stair. Permanently.
More of Perez later.
Next we have soul singer Alexander O’Neal, an African-American who is that most unusual of CBB creatures – someone who actually has a real, bonafide talent. Alexander can sing. Really sing. Which is just as well because it’s obvious from the start that he doesn’t want to be in that freak show. He’s between tours and someone’s offered him a few quid. He most probably thought it would be a nice little break. Alexander quickly and quietly slips into the background, earning the respect of most of his fellow inmates and later becoming the subject of racial abuse.
Alexander is followed by a vision in a black dress called Alicia Douvall. A vision because very little of Alicia remains of the woman called Sarah Howes that she once was. Alicia bears the scars of hundreds of operations conducted by unscrupulous Harley Street charlatans who clearly care more about their holiday homes in Tenerife than in helping somebody who is addicted to cosmetic surgery. This is a woman who openly proclaims on the show ‘I’d kill myself if I didn’t have big tits…’ Which is just as well because she is surrounded by them. Both physically and metaphorically.
Poor Alicia really is a mess. More Simon Weston than Simone Signoret. But she has a good heart. She really does. It’s easy to mock Alicia but it quickly becomes clear that the poor girl is very definitely more victim than perpetrator. Anyone with a conscience can see that.
Step forward a lady without a conscience named Katie, who, sensing free blood, quickly moves in for the kill, criticising Alicia’s admittedly unconventional but actually quite healthy eating habits and repeatedly calling her stupid. It’s all too much like pulling the wings off a moth.
The next non-celebrity to enter is someone called Anthony Kavanagh who apparently has trouble spelling his own surname. Kavana, as he once liked to call himself, was supposedly big in the late-1990s. So what? So was I – but I’ve since lost a lot of weight. These days poor Anthony isn’t even a household name in his own household. (Now I’m really sounding like Katie Hopkins!) Like Alexander, Anthony is a reluctant talker and soon settles into a corner determined not to talk to anyone unless drunk. And only when he has a drink in his hand does this reformed alcoholic (eh?) have a bad word to say about anyone. In his eyes you can see Anthony glare enviously at the other non-celebs in the house. He was once like them and,like Katie Hopkins he could be again.
Next up another person I’ve never heard of, an American named Cami-Li, convenient I suppose if she ever decides to start a Fami Li. She’s quite a beauty is Cami, although the ungracious among us could actually describe her as a cheap tattoo with a big pair of false tits superglued on. Indeed, so tattooed is Cami that it’s difficult to locate any bare skin. Presumably she used to pricks. (Erm, sorry about that. I’m regressing, I’m no longer Katie Hopkins… I’m… I’m… I’m a crappy comedian from the 1970s… I’m… I’m… Keith Chegwin!) Because there are plenty of them surrounding her in the house.
Beautiful, false, plastic Cami quickly settles into a routine of lounging around with a piece of string covering those expensive breasts and saying ‘fuck’ even more than Perez, which is quite a feat really. Is it me? I know I’m getting on a bit but why do these ‘celebs’ have to say ‘fuck’ quite so often? Didn’t they learn any other decent expletives at school?
Cami soon joins Katie in a spot of Douvall baiting, also calling poor Alicia stupid and accusing her – behind her back – of having ‘butt implants. A case of the brat calling the fretful black? (Aaarrgghh!)
Roll of drums: next we have serial reality show contender Calum Best. I’ve actually got nothing against Calum, other than the quasi-American accent, the three hair transplants (I bloody can’t even afford one!), the extravagantly talented father, and the habit of saying ‘dude’ so often that you want to force your hands down his throat and pull out his bleeding tonsils. Even Calum has lost count of the number of reality shows he has graced. It’s easy money and it keeps your boat race in the papers. And being the old hand that he is, Calum quickly fades into the background, taking care to avoid any unpleasantness while continuing to practice his ‘dude’ saying.
What is it they say about like attracting like? Well there’s proof of this in the Big Brother house when Cami-Li’s tattoos swiftly sidle up to Calum’s equally impressive needle marks and merge into one inky expanse amid much back massaging and plenty of quite obviously painfully aching balls.
Now for some more eye candy in the red-dressed form of Chloe Goodman, yet another person that this writer has never heard of. No matter. She seems nice enough, she’s pretty and the tits that she has out on display seem real enough. Within days this assumption is put to the test when the next contender, one Jeremy Jackson decides to check them out for himself.
As the reformed alcoholic (eh?) throws up the night’s booze in the Big Brother bathroom Jackson mistakes Chloe’s comforting arms for something else and gives those apparently real mammary glands a quick fumble. Amid tears and hoots of outrage Jackson is quickly stoned to death and his bones are fed to the ghost of Davina McCall. Not really. They kick him back to America, where he returns to a life of semi-obscurity.
Did I mention Cheggers? Keith Chegwin? Former Swap Shop giggler and TV am money doler-outer? Well here he is? And guess what? He’s ANOTHER reformed alcoholic. Is this a budgeting strategy? Did the CBB production team bring in a hat trick of ex-alcoholics so that they could lower the booze budget? Who knows?
What we do know is that in Chegwin we have someone who is brilliantly adept at combining an aura of profound personal tragedy with some really gut-wrenchingly poor jokes. Think bathos to the power of two million. As one of the elder statesmen of the house, non-confrontational Cheggers is soon bawling but not brawling with the best of them, as well as being told to fuck off by none other than Kavana. After a particularly boozy night, Anthony Kavanagh finally plucks up the courage to pick on the one person in the house most likely NOT to retaliate. Keith has another cry in the diary room.
Now I DO know this bloke. It’s Reg Holdsworth from Corrie! Didn’t we laugh when he tried to get Mavis or whatever her name was into bed? However, despite the sub-Bernard Manning witticisms, we’re not laughing now. Somebody should have told Reg that you simply cannot walk around with a face like a sheep’s bladder sucking a peppermint humbug while blatantly leering at women’s behinds, only to justify this behaviour by explaining that you have a right to look at them because ‘they are the best arses in the world’. Nor, for that matter, can you call an African-American a ‘negro’ not once but twice. Enough said. He looked unhappy and frankly out of his depth in the house anyway. Although in a frankly astonishing act of awareness and clarity he did call Perez an ‘irrelevant American’. Which is actually quite a compliment if the truth be told.
Jesus Christ. Now we have Michelle somebodyorother and I really haven’t the faintest idea who she is. For all I know she could be that woman who serves my daughter her school dinner. Google to the rescue. Apparently her surname’s ‘Visage’ and she’s a ‘drag queen’. WTF?
However, Michelle is actually quite nice and quite genuine except for her enormous plastic breasts which she tells Cami she plans to have removed. Forgive my apparent preoccupation with breast implants (it’s not just me – even Cami-Li’s mum apparently calls her ‘tits’) but it’s just hit me that of the eight women who entered the BB house five of them have had the op. That’s ten sacks of silicon wobbling around the house without a licence. Quite what that means I can only guess at. But back to Michelle: As I say, she’s surprisingly OK really and soon adopts a sort of mother hen role in the house, doling out sage advice and frowning at the appropriate moments.
Next up is Nadia Sawalha. From the days when I used to watch Eastenders I sort of remember her. Apparently she’s on Loose Women, which I’m seldom around to suffer. Nadia is one of the few women in CBB who doesn’t need silicon buffering and is all the better for it. She calls a spade a shovel does Nadia but I’m not sure that I could deal with her if we were ever to share the same space for more than a millisecond. Within moments she cannot conceal her desire to take charge of things, speaking over people in a cloyingly self-righteous manner and telling off anybody who dares oppose her. She’s a little too much like my wife for comfort. Not really. Honest, Laura.
Soon Nadia has formed a friendship with the increasingly vile Perez. And at the same time she vies with the increasingly vile Katie Hopkins for the position of Cock Of The Roost.
Lastly but not leastly we have Patsy Kensit, who, up until quite recently, was actually one of my neighbours. Little bit of name-dropping there. Admittedly I didn’t see much of her but when I did I could quite easily see why the heads of Jim Kerr, Liam Gallagher et al had been turned on their axes. (BTW I’m not suggesting that these fellows wielded blood-soaked axes, I’m actually employing the plural of ‘axis’ Confusing, huh?) Patsy is another who clearly doesn’t want to be in that padded prison complex. And as the arguments inevitably unfold she does what any sane person would do – hide away in a corner until people stop shouting at each other. This attitude only serves to piss off Katie Hopkins, who soon resorts to calling Patsy ‘Yoko Ono’ in the Diary Room. When Patsy is finally evicted I have never seen anyone looking quite so happy in my life.
I did say not lastly, didn’t I? Midway through the first week a new inmate turns up. Why it’s Jordan! Who? Sorry, Katie Price. Wasn’t she big some time ago? Well she’s not so big now. Because, in a cautionary warning to those ten sacks of silicon I keep going on about, her’s have fallen out. It’s not funny at all, is it? Once upon a time those enormous triple-Zs or whatever they were graced the pages of the red tops on an almost hourly basis. Now, like most of the housemates’ heads, they are apparently filled with holes. ‘I can’t lift my arm above my shoulder…’ Miss Price painfully announces after inviting one of the inmates to ‘have a feel’. (Erm… No thanks…)
That said, Katie turns out to be better than expected. She keeps herself to herself, avoids arguments and talks explicitly about sex and infidelity whenever she gets the chance. Further Brownie points are awarded when she gives that other Katie what for. You could hear the studio crowd cheering.
So that’s it. That’s my little pen pictures of the sorry saps who have sacrificed their dignity for a quick buck. It doesn’t really explain why I’m watching this rubbish. But that wasn’t the intention. In a nutshell this is motorway pile-up TV of the highest order. Every episode is filled with vicious arguments that are genuinely shocking in their intensity. Somebody in the upper echelons of Endemol must be rubbing their hands together in glee. Because what clearly must originally have been a mad rush to persuade any z-list celebrity to enter the Big Brother house has actually turned out unbelievably well. It could not have been planned any better.