Big Brother's back to rob my summer evenings
There is one sound that heralds a twenty-first century summertime more than any other. And no, it's not the hypnotic sound of buzzing in a bee-loud glade; nor the gentle clack of croquet on a lawn; nor the distant sound of a transient cuckoo -"Shall I call thee 'Bird', or but a wandering voice?" - It's not even the guttural grunting of tennis players whacking a ball at Wimbledon. No, it's none of the above.
It is, in fact, a pulsating synthesised electronic dance tune, called "Tast-E" which was written in 2000 by the DJ and music producer Paul Oakenfold. This was chosen off an album to become the theme tune to the first ever series of Big Brother - seventeen summers ago - and the rest, as they say, is history.
Every year since then I have tried to resist, but every year I fail. Voyeurism gets the better of me on the opening night and I sit there gawping with incredulity as another series of borderline sociopaths line up for their five minutes of fame and/or a lifetime of ridicule. I know. I'm intelligent and educated and I should know better. But as much as I cringe, I still can't help myself from being drawn in to the sheer tastelessness of it all. It's my grossest of guilty pleasures.
So, if you're a fan like me you can forget the fabulous sunsets outside, those long leisurely walks on the beach after work or even sitting in a beer garden sipping ice cold drinks as the day stretches gently into night. In front of the TV is where it's at for the next six weeks. Total commitment is the only way you can keep up to speed with who's who, who's doing or saying what to whom and why so-and-so is sobbing semi- silently under a duvet while such-and-such is attempting to scale the walls outside.
So here's this season's sacrificial lambs...
First in the house was Marco Pierre-White Jr, the son of the famous chef, who's a proper hipster too with all the modern accoutrements of a hip guy including a man bun, shaved sides, drainpipe jeans, a big cardi, piercings and tattoos a-plenty. He's good looking in a Justin-Beiber sort of way, a true party animal and he says the F word a lot.
Next up were Emma and Victoria: identical twins who count as one housemate. And when I say identical...well it's virtually impossible to tell them apart. Both are tall, skinny brunettes with long flowing locks, beaming smiles and lots of teeth. Both arrived wearing animal print catsuits and the noise of their voices was something I'm trying to forget, despite the ringing in my ears. Apparently they once starred together in a Dyson advert, are both vegans and very very annoying.
After them came Andy from Oor wee country, no less, who used to be a BBC reporter until he got sensationally sacked for speaking out about Tyson Fury's nomination for Sports Personality of the Year. So you could say he's already had his five minutes of fame, which probably explains why he came across as the most sane and least needy one of the whole bunch.
Laura : Yorkshire lass with false boobs and hair extensions who describes herself as every man's dream. Alex: Scouser model who looks a bit like one of the Baldwin brothers and likes taking his kit off. Lateysha: Buxom Welsh wench with a big attitude, a bigger bum and even bigger ego.
Evelyn: Australian model of oriental descent who describes herself as "awesome" (We'll be the judge of that Eve!) Sam: Gay Northern lad who says "I'm the best looking man in my town" but that town is Blackpool, so don't get too excited. Georgina : The token posh totty who doesn't appear to have much going on in the cerebral dept. When asked "What would your friends say is the best thing about you?" She replied "My make-up"
Jason: A big burly bouncer who's a diamond geezer, Jackson: a super cool trend-setter type and Chelsea: the token rich ageing entrepreur. So there you have it.
And, before you say it, no I'm not "dumbing down". In fact, I'm doing you all a favour. I'm watching it so you don't have to.