Belfast Telegraph

Celebrity Big Brother really is car-crash TV

By Frances Burscough

Oh dear God. Have you been watching Celebrity Big Brother? At the time of writing, we are just one week into the new series and already there have been two house mates unceremoniously kicked out; accusations of sexual harassment, assault and racism; drunken debauchery, vomiting, vitriol, tears, tantrums, traumas, back-stabbing, bitching and more gratuitous cussing than an entire season of the Sopranos. Oh, and a fight over a banana.

So yes, it has been compulsive viewing from the word go, in a car-crash TV kind of way. And what a charmless, humourless, tasteless bunch they are too. With the exception of Keith “Cheggers” Chegwin — what’s not to like about the cheeky-chappie eternal boy-next-door — and Alexander O’Neill, who is an old-fashioned gent without an ounce of guile, they are all downright objectionable in their own sweet way.

But as a columnist I’ve been most interested in the two “star” columnist/bloggers in the house — Katie Hopkins and Perez Hilton — who, in my view, also happen to be the most objectionable of the lot.

It’s actually difficult to know where to begin with Perez, but I’m sorry, I really cannot bear him. When he said on the first night “It’s ok, you can tell me. I don’t judge” I nearly fell off my chair laughing.

After all, he’s forged an entire unique career out of trolling celebs and has been described as “the biggest bully on the internet” for his scathing judgements, personal insults and catty comments.

But the sight of him cuddling a gigantic wooden rabbit whilst sobbing like a baby on Tuesday night’s episode is likely to stay with me for a long, long time, and not in a good way. As Perez himself has said often enough on his own website, “that which has been seen, cannot be unseen” and now I’ve seen that I have to live with the consequences.

The fact that he was actually “crying with happiness” that Ken Morley had been booted out of the house only served to make the scene that bit more pathetic. “I feel like I’ve been cured of cancer” he explained.

Yes, Ken was rude, crude, offensive, sexist,  and annoying — and was eventually thrown out for it — but only after Perez relentlessly hounded him, calling him a “disgusting pig” on more than one occasion and telling him he “should be worried for his safety” once he was back in the outside world.

Then, instead of Perez being properly reprimanded for his own offensive language and for making such a thinly-veiled threat, the programme producers laughed the whole thing off. No wonder Perez now appears to think he’s top dog and has Big Brother eating out of his hand.

Meanwhile Katie Hopkins, the former Apprentice contestant turned Sun journalist is a lot more subtle, yet just as effective, in her personal game plan.

While Perez openly picks on the ugly, Katie works away on the weak. In fact, it took her no time at all to identify that former model and surgery addict Alicia Duvall was easy pickings, announcing (behind her back, of course) that she had “never met anyone quite so stupid” and that the woman was in possession of “half a brain cell at the most”. 

Hopkins reminds me of a playground bully, surrounded by her goading gang of impressionable girlfriends who laugh at and agree with every mean thing she says, while Alicia visibly shrinks and recoils at every sidelong glance and over-heard guffaw.

Over the years we’ve come to expect and depend on CBB to reveal to us the dark and dismal side of modern celebrity and the grim facade behind the faces of fame and fortune. But this season has truly surpassed itself. It’s horrible. It’s cruel. I actually feel quite shabby after watching it.

So will I be switching off in protest?

Hell no! I still think of it as a brilliant social experiment and for that reason I’m there to the bitter end.  

Belfast Telegraph

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