Oh Brother ... these celebs make compulsive viewing
Channel 5 I salute you. You took a tired, lacklustre, flagging show that had been mired by unwise casting and controversy; you shook it up, made a few tweaks here and there, altered the ageing format ever so slightly, injected new life into it and finally restored it to its former grotesque glory.
This is Big Brother.
The current series of Celebrity BB has been absolutely riveting, don't you agree? I'm neither ashamed nor embarrassed to admit that I haven't missed a minute of it, thanks to two patient sons and Sky Plus.
So what's so good about it?
First of all there's the clever combination of housemates, a perfect balance of the extremely vain and the charmingly self-effacing. There are no prizes for guessing who falls into which category, but I'll spell it out anyway.
The ‘You're so Vain’ category includes Danica (the radiant beauty who sells her time on the internet to strange men in return for gifts); Rhian (a busty glamour model who had her qualifying 15 minutes of fame after receiving sex texts from Radio One DJ and TV star Vernon Kay); ‘Prince’ Lorenzo (an American Adonis worth millions who starred on the reality TV show The Bachelor in the title role); The Situation (a dense Yank with washboard abs who stars in the trashy show Jersey Shore); and Samantha Brick (the much-maligned Daily Mail columnist who claimed that all women are jealous of her beauty).
Meanwhile, the more down-to-earth and humbler-than-thou Julie Goodyear (Bet Lynch off Corrie), Julian Clary (the cross-dressing stand-up comedian), Martin Kemp (of Spandau Ballet/EastEnders fame), Harvey (the cool dude rapper off So Solid Crew), and Ashley (the Olympic judo champion) are all refreshingly unassuming and provide us with a bemused and amusing running commentary on the self-conscious shenanigans of the vanity gang.
In between the two is Colleen (the only memorable Nolan sister) who is neither one nor the other and so rather bland in comparison but she more than ably fulfills the role as chief s**t-stirrer betwixt the two camps.
Taking centrestage are the assorted love triangles that have kept us all hooked, although in Danica's case, with a boyfriend at home and two suitors gagging for her attention, it would be more accurately described as a quadrangle. The development of the two, er, love stories in the house has been fascinating to watch from the moment their 10 eyes met across a crowded studio.
First, Danica set her sights on The Situation, who openly gawped at her beauty from the word go and was therefore an easy catch to kick off with. However, after a complex series of events in which she allowed him into her bed every night for steamy cuddles as friends — “because that's what friends do” (er, I must have the wrong kind of friends) — she unceremoniously dumped him in favour of the infinitely dull but historically princely Lorenzo.
Now, call me cynical, but I swear I can accurately pinpoint her change of heart to the precise moment Lorenzo told her that the woman whom he ultimately marries will automatically become a legitimately titled princess. Oh, as well as the beneficiary of hundreds of year's worth of riches dating back to the Medici dynasty. And, frankly, who can blame her ... apart from the so-called Situation.
Heck, a girl's gotta eat!
We also have the perfect balance of grown-up and mature versus naive and immature, with Julie and Samantha playing mother hens, with Martin as the father figure and Julian as the alternative benevolent uncle to the kiddies in the house.
In between the romantic dramas and the bitchy bickering back and forth, there's also a perfect comic relief double act known as Julie & Julian. Their daily tete-a-tetes over a packet of ciggies or two on the garden bench are effortless works of comedy genius. In fact, I can see a new chat show on the horizon: On the Couch with Julie & Julian. It'll be on Channel 5 primetime by the end of the year. Mark my words, because you heard it here first.
So all that remains now is my seasonal prediction of the top three winners. In reverse order: Martin, third. Julian runner-up and Julie as the well-deserved winner.
Fast-forward three months as Prince Lorenzo and Princess Danica sell their lavish wedding rights to the highest tabloid bidder ...