Belfast Telegraph

No wonder my dad’s baffled by Celeb BB

By Frances Burscough

Another series of Celebrity Big Brother? So soon? But hasn't the last series only just finished? If Channel 5 keeps this up, they'll have run out of “celebrities” by the end of the year, even though they do seem to use term rather loosely.

So much so in fact, the phrase “scraping the bottom of the barrel” sprung to mind last week as I watched the new housemates line up to enter the house like mutton dressed as lambs to the slaughter.

Gillian Taylforth, the soap actress made most memorable for an offence incurred on a motorway layby ... Claire from Steps whose only claim to fame this decade has been a constant battle with her weight ... some random bloke off Neighbours (which I used to watch avidly and yet I still can't place him) ... an ageing footballer who now has the physique of a darts player ... a Page Three stunna whose name escapes me but it's something hilariously cartoonish like Lycra Bonkalot ... assorted fake-tanned Essex accents etc ... all the usual telly stereotypes are there including a few no-one anywhere has ever heard of.

Nevertheless, having been an avid, albeit cynical viewer of the show from its earliest incarnation on Channel 4, I am determined to see it through to the bitter end. And it will be very bitter, if the start is anything to go by.

This series began with a divisive twist created specifically to put contestants at loggerheads with one another. Splitting them up into two camps — one complete with all the usual first-night luxuries and the other a dingy hovel devoid of any comforts whatsoever — was always going to cause instant resentment for them and therefore compulsive viewing for us. But how the real-life husband and wife Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt dealt with that short-lived inconvenience has had major repercussions on this self-absorbed microcosm.

In a reality programme all about experiments, the latest brainwave of including a newly-married couple from the Hills of Hollywood in the motley mix has proved absolutely riveting ... in an obsessive/compulsive kind of a way. True to his name, Spencer has behaved like a complete ... er... prat from the word

go, refusing to acknowledge anyone but his wife and acting like a charmless spoilt brat from the outset.

Meanwhile, his cosmetically-enhanced other half, whose whiney Valley-girl voice gives the Essex crew a run for their money, is a party pooper par excellence. Between them they have completely sabotaged or effectively ruined every task — and everyone else's fun — with their no-can-do approach which seems to revolve entirely around a jealous dislike and mistrust of the one girl in the house who has bigger breasts than her.

So far, the twisted highlight of a very warped show for me was the table tennis ball task which involved the group being split into random couples who had to pass a ball backwards and forwards into a net using only their mouths. It's a game we've all played before at parties and is just a bit of childish fun but sourpuss Montag refused point blank to participate, and forbade her husband from joining in too, whining loudly that the very act would “go against their marriage vows”.

Now, it may be a few years since I got married and times may have changed but I really cannot for the life of me recall any mention of ping pong balls while we swore our solemn oaths at the altar. But I suppose they do come from La-La Land, so who knows?

Oh well, it's a mad, mad, mad, mad world in the Big Brother House and Channel Five have excelled themselves once again by pulling it off — against all odds, I might add — with great aplomb.

I'm currently in England this week, staying with my elderly dad. He happened to catch the first few minutes of Celebrity Big Brother the other night before he went up to bed and his response perfectly summed up the programme's car crash TV appeal.

“What's the point of this programme? Who are all these so-called celebrities and why are they all talking in those terrible accents? Is this what they call entertainment these days? Stupid buggers, the lot of them!”

I think my dad should become a TV critic don't you?

Belfast Telegraph


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