The winter series of Celebrity Big Brother is always better than the summer one isn’t it? OK, for me personally the reason I haven’t recapped any of them is that I can never be bothered even watching the summer one most of the time, which comes immediately after 10 weeks of the civilian series, and January is often a slow month for TV and news, which may explain why it mostly gets higher viewing figures and more press coverage. But the winter ones are still a lot better for some reason. Celebrity Big Brother 13 did so well it was extended, and this series was the longest from the start, lasting 4 weeks. It has also become the highest rated of any Big Brother series on Channel 5 to date.
The series had a theme of “twisted fairytale”, which gave a very good design for the logo and the house. It was likely inspired by the Forest of Thorns from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and/or Maleficent. Most of the decor was full moons, woodland creatures such as owls, crows, wolves and rabbits, plus haunted house imagery. Like most themes in Big Brother they made a big deal about it at the start, then pretty much forgot all about it after a week.
The first housemate to enter was former-Apprentice contestant turned right-wing rent-a-gob Katie Hopkins, who was introduced as the “Wicked Witch”. She was given a task to hide in an Enchanted Mirror and comment on the other house mates as they entered, which fell flat as she couldn’t seem to think of anything witty to say when put on the spot. Seriously, I wish the show would stop doing these stupid launch night twists, they are always crap. Dynamics will develop naturally, and that was the case this series. The main reason this series was watched was because of how the housemates reacted to one another.
It didn’t take long for things to get controversial. On day 3 an incident happened between Jeremy Jackson, who had been on Baywatch when he was a kid but had since gone off the rails, and Chloe Goodman, who had been in a reality TV show called Ex On The Beach and had done the usual glamour model stuff (Nuts, Zoo, Page 3 etc). The incident wasn’t shown on screen, other than a shot of the bathroom door with people hearing what was going on. Jeremy had too much to drink and was puking in the bathroom toilet. Chloe was in there with him, and at one point he grabbed her bathrobe exposing her breast. This upset Chloe, and ultimately it was decided to remove Jeremy from the house.
This was the first time that a housemate had been removed in a celebrity series, (well, unless you count Coolio in the final Channel 4 series Ultimate Big Brother, an “allstars” series which had former celebrity and civilian housemates) but it wouldn’t be long before the second was removed. Ken Morely, most famous for playing Reg Holdsworth in Coronation Street went out of his way to say racist and sexist things. He claimed it was mainly to get him voted out of the house quickly so he could collect his paycheque. He was nominated for the first eviction, but his removal seemed to be a last straw thing, as despite multiple warnings he never stopped. This also meant they had to cancel the first planned eviction. When the first eviction finally came, Chloe was evicted, and she seemed pleased to be going after everything that had happened. All this went on within the first ten days, so in hindsight it seems like it took place in a different series altogether.
Day 10 was something of a reboot of the series, as it saw the entrance of Katie Price. She had been rumoured to enter previous series, notably she was said to be a late entrant in Celebrity Big Brother 7 where the original contestants included her ex Dane Bowers and her boyfriend at the time Alex Reid. This time she was actually supposed to go in the summer series, but was asked to go in this one instead, getting a reported £500,000 to go in. While Katie Hopkins entered as the Wicked Witch, Katie Price entered as the Fairy Godmother, complete with ballgown and magic wand. They missed a trick by not having her enter the house in a giant pink bubble like Glinda the Good Witch of the North in The Wizard of Oz. As well as all the incidents mentioned above, there had been a lot of arguments going on and Katie Price coming in, with her intending to give everyone chance, meant that things calmed down a little. Only a little, mind.
Most of the arguments involved bitchy showbiz blogger Perez Hilton, and that continued throughout the series. Perez was a massive attention seeker, even by Big Brother standards. He was very self-centred, trying to make everything about him. His ways of attention seeking ranged from sticking cheese up his nose and then eating it, to winding everyone up and playing the victim when they retaliated. He was a shit-stirrer too, digging up old arguments and telling people what others had said about them. He was obnoxious, irritating, grotesque. In a way, he was a distillation of the traits of many Big Brother contestants.
He became a catalyst for arguments when he wasn’t even in the same room. One time he was running around the garden dry humping a wall and shouting “I’m so entertaining!” and seeing this through the bedroom window started a quarrel that turned into a massive argument involving Chloe, Nadia Sawlha, Cami-Li and Alicia Duvall, with Cami-Li being particularly nasty to Alicia.
Perez was loudly coughing late at night keeping 61-year-old soul singer Alexander O’Neal awake, and then spent time goading him and pulling faces, until Alexander eventually snapped and used a homophobic insult at Perez. Alexander received a warning for this, and he apologised for offending anyone, but soon after he walked out of the show.
It’s no surprise that almost every contestant had a problem with Perez, though his main nemesis was Katie Hopkins, who took great joy in laying into him, saying that “Perez’s favourite words are me, myself and I”, calling him “disgusting”, “repulsive”, “an embarrassment to mankind”, saying he would “stick to Nadia like a parasite on a Labrador”, that he used the rule book as a way of playing the victim, and in response to him saying he wanted to show people the real him she said “But what if the real you turns out to be a complete and utter turnip!” And those were probably among her milder insults to him! In fact, this became the main storyline of this series. Katie Hopkins vs. Perez, in a kind of Alien vs. Predator “which ever one wins, we lose” sort of way.
The show had a fake eviction/walkout for Perez where he was put in a secret room to watch and listen to the other housemates, because they have to do that old twist every series now. It seems to happen more often than normal nominations these days. They also had a twist for viewers to vote for Perez to either get a pass to the final, like Helen in Big Brother 15, or to get a Killer Nomination and face every eviction like Jale in Big Brother 15. Aside from finding Perez annoying generally, a lot of people didn’t like that the twist was clearly thought up as a way of keeping Perez in longer, after the fake walkout already conveniently meant he would escape one round of nominations, so he got the Killer Nomination option.
The aftermath of Perez’s return to the house was one of the best parts of the series though. Katie Hopkins was absolutely seething at his return, sat with a glass of wine trying not to lose her temper. In one of the funniest moments of the series, she and Perez had an argument which ended with him licking her face and chasing her around the garden asking her for a hug. Then after the chase they awkwardly clinked glasses.
Katie Hopkins and Perez eating up all the screen time and making the toxic atmosphere in the house worse and worse meant that most of the other contestants didn’t get much of a look in.
One of the most sympathetic housemates was Alicia Duvall. She clearly has a lot of problems with her self-esteem, as she had lots of plastic surgery in order to look like Barbie. She was also picked on a lot by some of the other housemates, notably being targeted by Katie Hopkins and Cami-Li bitching about her to everyone who’d listen. Her taking some bananas for herself from the store room got turned into a huge crime in the house. She claimed to have only learned her alphabet and shapes the year before from home-schooling her daughter. Then there was her talking about how she’d had a job working for a shopping channel, but her supplier suddenly went bankrupt, so she lost the job, her house, her car and “70% of [her] friends”. She stood up for herself well though, saying to Katie Hopkins that for all her intelligence, she has resort to bitchy comments to make a name for herself. Alicia was in the top two in the first eviction vote, and went in the second eviction vote where the bottom 3 were extremely close. As a housemate, she was certainly an underdog to root for, but perhaps too tragic a figure for some people? Who knows. Hopefully she’ll have better luck in the future.
Patsy Kensit seemed to hate every minute of being in the house, and was mostly sat crestfallen and waiting to collect her paycheque. To be fair, that’s pretty much what Ulrika Johnson did in Celebrity Big Brother 6, and she won! Also, in Patsy’s case she was probably the “too nice” one you often get in reality tv shows, seems like a lovely person but can’t handle all the chaos that goes with these shows. Given that it seemed to be an incredibly hostile house, I don’t blame her for finding it all exhausting. She at one point said “I don’t understand why we can’t all just get along”. She was nominated by the other housemates because she wanted to go, and had probably the most elated reaction to being evicted ever. I think she might have been a fun housemate in another series, but hey. I do wonder if she and Calum Best ever mentioned the fact she played his mother Angie in the film Best though.
Loose Women panelists usually make the final, but Nadia Sawalha was evicted quite early on. With good reason really, as she was a very tedious housemate. She was condescending and sanctimonious, always on her high horse, but that wasn’t the worst thing about her. She ended up being Perez’s enabler, making endless excuses for him. She was like the delusional mother of a spoilt brat who in her eyes can do no wrong and isn’t responsible for anything he does. Which would be one thing, but Perez is a grown man hurtling towards 40.
Before the final, in the last week there were evictions to get rid of the housemates who weren’t going to anyway. There was a long hyped twist called “the Live Bombshell”, but it was just a surprise eviction. Not only that, but they reused the twist in Celebrity Big Brother 13 where Emma Willis entered a house to announce and collect the evicted housemate through a wall. This time she came and left through the Enchanted Mirror rather than the clockcase, and the evicted housemate was tattoo model Cami-Li. She had a bit of a showmance with Calum, but was mainly known for her explosive temper and her ghetto talk, which got annoying. She did get a good line once though. “Time and space is for astronauts honey, and I ain’t got time for that”.
In a double eviction when people were voting for their winner, to the surprise of nobody Kavanna had the fewest votes. His claim to fame was having a hit in 1997 with a cover of Shalamar’s ‘I Can Make You Feel Good’, though I’m a big pop music geek and I grew up in the ’90s, and all I can say is it must have passed me by. Anyway, Kavanna only lasted as long as he did because he dodged the nomination radar. He had the invisible edit, so we didn’t see much of him, but from what we did see he was mostly inoffensively average and ordinary, apart from getting peevish and bitter when he got drunk.
The other evicted housemate was Perez. The hate figures in Big Brother are similar to the joke acts in The X Factor really. A big talking point, but unlikely to get many people who seriously want them to win, let alone will vote for them.
I think we ended up with a pretty decent bunch of finalists all things considered.
In fifth place was Michelle Visage, best known for being a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race. She started off very well in the series, coming across very striking but also as the only sane person and the only one with any sense of perspective whatsoever. But she ran out of steam early on, and then just trundled her way to the final. While its admirable that she passionately believes in fighting for gay rights, her despair about Perez being a bad example was a bit odd, as surely Perez is just a representative of himself, not gay men in general. In any case, while I like her and I don’t doubt her good intentions, as a Celebrity Big Brother housemate she kind of squandered her early potential and ended up as the second banana to house queen bee Katie Hopkins. (How’s that for a mixed metaphor?).
Fourth went to TV presenter Keith Chegwin. It might have been a bit of a surprise he didn’t do better, as he was probably the most well known contestant for most of the audience. Like most of the other contestants, he was shoved aside to make room for more of Katie Hopkins vs. Perez, but he seemed most of the time doing all the cleaning (and making a passive aggressive point of NOT doing it when he was nominated). He had a task to make all the other housemates laugh, but the real task was for the others not to laugh at them. To be honest, I don’t think they’d have laughed at his jokes anyway, as they included “I love eggs. That’s no yolk”, “I went to the doctor and said I had a strawberry growing out of my arse. He said he’d put some cream on it” and “I went to the doctor and said I had a lettuce growing out of my arse. He said that’s just the tip of the iceberg”. Keith was dubbed “Switzerland” by Katie Hopkins because of his neutral stance, but I don’t blame him for not wanting to get involved in other people’s petty arguments, and I don’t think it’s fair to say never expressed his opinion anyway, as he told Katie Hopkins how annoying he found her antics quite a few times.
Third place was Calum Best, who had been a contestant on Celebrity Love Island – twice, – but his main claim to fame is that he is footballer George Best’s son. It has to be said that Calum doesn’t appear to have the most three dimensional personality. He’s a muscular pretty boy himbo, who starts most sentences with “Dude” and ends them with “bro”. OK, he sometimes ends with “mate”. But it also has to be said that he’s very hot, and he seems like a really nice guy. He’s as fanciable as you’re ever going to get on reality TV. It was great to see him standing up to Perez and calling him out on his self-absorbed and provocative behavior towards the end.
So the final 2 turned out to be the battle of the Katies. Katie H. vs. Katie P., the Wicked Witch vs. The Fairy Godmother. In the end, Katie Price was victorious.
Katie Hopkins had been the bookies favourite to win for most of the series, but she always had the role of the baddie, and it’s very rare people want the villain to win. She even said herself in her interview that a lot of her popularity might have been to do with her rivalry with Perez, and that she only looked better in comparison to him. There were attempts to spin a softer side, and that compliments were her weakness, with her getting moved to tears when anyone said anything nice about her, but I’m not sure that ever really convinced anyone. She has a sort of charm to her, and often she’s very funny, along with her barbs to Perez she said to Calum “You couldn’t be more magnolia if you tried, darling” and about Patsy’s futile attempts to keep the peace that she was like “Yoko Ono dressed as a French onion seller”. I think she was a good housemate, but well, if you act like a snobby bitch that’s what you’ll be seen as.
Katie Price was shocked at her win. I wasn’t, particularly. It’s long been rumoured the overwhelming majority of votes are cast on the actual eviction/finale nights however long lines are open, and the last day highlights in the finale included some of the housemates moaning that Katie Price didn’t deserve to win because she wasn’t there at the beginning, which could have made viewers sympathise with her. She also probably had the biggest fanbase of all the housemates going in. Granted, she’s only really a big name in the context of Celebrity Big Brother. Outside of that, she’s a fading star as opposed to a bunch of faded ones. She was criticised for not doing much, but this was partly because she’d just had a breast reduction operation. There were also some that said she was treating the house like one long magazine interview, talking about her past relationships and how she’d been betrayed by lovers and friends on holidays and parties she was paying for, and how she’d got her revenge on them. But she was quite astute really, saying that people only go on Celebrity Big Brother for a career boost or the paycheque, and I’d say that’s more “telling it like it is” than when that phrase is used to excuse people being confrontational. I think people wanted “nice” to win too. She didn’t hold grudges, having clashed with Alicia in the past and snogged Calum, and tried to get on with everybody. She never had a full on slanging match with Katie Hopkins, but she made some good comments about her, that’s its fine to be opinionated, but that Katie Hopkins would “never say opinionated things that are nice, it’s always opinionated things that are horrible”.
After Katie Hopkins spent her interview on spin-off show Big Brother’s Bit On The Side slating Katie Price and saying she shouldn’t have won, when it came to her interview Katie Price just shrugged it off as Katie Hopkins being a bad loser and that she wasn’t going to rise to the bait.
Celebrity Big Brother 15 was a great series, but it’s a shame that all the screen time went to the villains, as it had one of the better line-ups, so it’s a pity we didn’t get to see more of the others. There also wasn’t much fun. For example, I never thought Eamon Holmes would ever be among my highlights of… well, anything really, but he was for me in this series. Not his entrance as part of a task in the main show, that was just more of the show trying to get more arguments. But I did like an appearance of his on Big Brother’s Bit On The Side when he was in the camera run, where there are mirrors the housemates can’t see out of but people outside can see in. He banged on the mirror and the housemates came running to the sound and started banging on it, looking similar to the zombies banging on the doors of the Big Brother house in Charlie Brooker’s Dead Set.
I am pleased they dropped the “two nominations and you’re up” thing, as I think its a bit pointless having nominations at all if thats all it takes for people to face eviction. I like vote to save, I like 3 or more housemates up and I like the whole house being up once in a while, but every eviction vote having almost everyone up every time gets a bit daft.
This successful series of Celebrity Big Brother puts the franchise in good stead, but they haven’t been able to maintain that for the civilian and summer series in past years. We’ll just have to see if that pattern is going to be broken this year.