Random thoughts on ‘Big Brother’

So as with my ‘Random thoughts on The X Factor‘ post, the main reason for writing this is just so I can post something before this month ends, which I have mostly spent being ill. It is just a collection of random thoughts I have about Big Brother.

2016 is likely going to be remembered as a year of many celebrities passing away. We have had so many deaths of famous people and we’re not even half-way through the year! Among them was Celebrity Big Brother 17 contestant David Gest, which makes that series’ most memorable moment all the more ironic. After Angie Bowie was informed of the death of her ex-husband David Bowie, she told Tiffany Pollard about it, who thought she was talking about their fellow contestant David Gest who had been unwell. Both Tiffany and David Gest himself were making reference jokes to it after the series had finished too. Just a few months later and … well, it’s a shock.

It’s long been announced that they are building an extension on the Big Brother house, and the latest rumour on the upcoming series is that it is going to be a combined civilian and celebrity version.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Channel 5 ditch the civilian version altogether, to be honest. The general consensus has been that Channel 5 have done better than Channel 4 with Celebrity Big Brother, but worse with civilian Big Brother. I think vote to save has made a big difference, which for some reason they only kept for the celebrity series. I suppose Channel 5’s focus seems to be much more on glossy entertainment, whereas Channel 4 always seemed to want to be “groundbreaking”, not always successfully.

One difference between civilian and celebrity Big Brother is that older housemates (say, middle-aged to elderly) tend to do better in the celebrity series than the civilian one.  I suppose there are a number of reasons for this. The celebrity version tends to have more older housemates, and it’s a shorter run. In the civilian one it tends to be filled with younger housemates and goes on for 10 weeks, sometimes more. So you can see why in the civilian version older housemates might end up being outnumbered and left out, and why they might not be willing to stick it out for over two months.

Also, Celebrity Big Brother contestants tend to be has-beens, whereas civilian Big Brother contestants tend to be wannabes. I guess a young wannabe is valued more than an old wannabe, whereas an old has-been is valued more than a young has-been.

Like, you could say going on reality TV is a roll of the dice, and generally the younger ones have more of a chance of ”being” something, maybe not much of a chance, but more of one than the older ones. For the latter, it’s kind of the last roll of the dice.

With celebrity reality TV, it’s less taking a chance and more like cashing in your chips. So the older ones are more likely to have ”been” quite big at one time, and will have more a legacy, whereas if you’re only about 21 and you’re going on these kind of shows already, it kind of suggests your 15 minutes were more of a 15 seconds, so collect your cash and spend it now.

The lines have been blurred between the celebrity and civilian versions for quite some time too, with people like Bobby Sabel (some model who doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, but was rumoured to have been a last minute replacement for… a last minute replacement who dropped out!) and Danielle Marr (she was in a forgotten Irish reality TV series called Dublin Wives, apparentlygetting in the celebrity version, and ex-popstars who scraped a top 20 single such as Ziggy from Northern Line in BB8 and Zoe Birkett in BB15 going in the civilian version. It’s not just their first names that were on a Z-list I suppose. At the moment it’s thought that the ”celebrity” quota in the upcoming series of Big Brother will be represented by people who have been on Gogglebox and TOWIE, so is the gimmick even worth doing? 

In other news, Nikki Grahame has become a contestant on the Canadian series of Big Brother. How many Big Brother appearances has she clocked up now? BB7 (technically, twice as she was evicted and later voted back in), CBB6 and BB10 in guest appearances, Ultimate Big Brother, BB16 and now this. I’ve heard of people who end up spending their lives living in various hotels, but Big Brother houses?!

To make us all feel old, BB7 was TEN YEARS AGO! It was the last truly great civilian series (though BB9 was pretty good, and I have a soft spot for BB13). But ten years have passed since that series! Ten years have passed since CBB4, which was won by Chantelle Houghton and infamously featured George Galloway pretending to be a cat for a task with Rula Lenska.

Presuming Celebrity Big Brother is still on the air next year, it will be ten years after CBB5 , which caused record-breaking complaints after the awful treatment of Shilpa Shetty by Jade Goody and other contestants, and very nearly killed the franchise in the UK altogether. I doubt anyone would have betted that it would still be on the air ten years after that.

There have been a lot of wannabe popstars that have gone on Big Brother. None have led to a lasting pop career, but let’s face it going on Big Brother really must be the last resort. I mean, it’s not even a singing reality TV contest! Ages ago I listened to a lot of them, because that’s the sort of saddo I am.

Pub quiz time, three (well, technically four) ex-Big Brother contestants have made the UK top 40!

There was BB5‘s winner Nadia who reached number 27 with ‘A Little Bit Of Action’. The track was a bit like something that was not-quite-trashy-enough to appear on Eurotrash.

Then there was BB8’s runners up, sweet giggly blonde pink-wearing twins Samanda with a cover of Aqua’s ‘Barbie Girl’ which got to number 26. Any irony that song might have had was gone when been sung by two  girls who looked and acted like two Barbie dolls bought to life. But believe it or not, Samanda actually released a couple more singles, both of which failed to chart. They were ‘Whistle For A Hottie’, and ‘Honey Love’, a re-working of ‘Puppy Love’ by Donny Osmond, and is a duet with the Honey Monster, the mascot from Sugar Puffs cereal. No, I’m not making this up, this is something that happened!

The biggest hit by a Big Brother contestant to date, though? It was the very first BBUK winner, Craig from BB1 donning a Christmas jumper with the cheesy festive single ‘At This Time Of Year’ which got to number 14. Does that even appear on Christmas compilations?

Then there are two which ”charted”, but not in the top 40. Nicola Holt from the same series as Craig infamously made number 72 with dance track ‘The Game’, which sounded like it might have been about Big Brother sort of? I don’t remember.

Chanelle in BB8 had the pop-R&B track ‘I Want It’ which got to number 63, the video featuring her in a stable among bales of hay. Her rival in that series Charley released a single ‘I Want It More’, which didn’t chart.

Neither are to be confused with CBB4‘s Chantelle with ‘I Want It Right Now’. She was an ordinary member of the public who had to convince the celebrity housemates she had been in a girlgroup, and ‘I Want It Right Now’ was ostensibly the biggest hit from her fictional girlgroup Kandyfloss. I have a soft spot for ‘I Want It Right Now’, and I kind of wanted it to be released properly, but it never was. It was an alright pop song really, and was originally written for Kylie Minogue.

BB6‘s Kemal, now known as Zuleyka, released a few songs, including ‘Through With Love’ the video of which became a bit of an internet meme.

BB7‘s Spiral got to number 9 in Ireland with rap single ‘Finglas’, which I don’t think was the one that went “I’d do anything to you/your ass is like a slice of bread” or whatever it was that he came up with while on BB7. 

BB9‘s Stephanie McMichael had a club-dance track ‘Camera Shy’, which I didn’t think was all that bad to be honest, but it did suggest unfortunately for Stephanie,”fame-seeker” was the only angle they had for her. 

The worst attempt for a Big Brother pop career has to be BB8‘s Shabnam for her, erm, rendition of ‘Shout’ by Lulu.

I think the best ones (which admittedly isn’t a high bar to clear) were by BB7 winner Pete Bennett. They included ‘COSMONAUT!’ with an arcade game themed video featuring lightsabers and whack-a-moles, and ‘Nuff Buzzin’ which I’m pretty sure featured a sample of Edvard Greig’s classical piece ‘In The Hall Of the Mountain King’. You will have heard that even if you don’t recognise the title, as it is used as the Alton Towers advert music.

I don’t know as much about attempts at going into films as I do with pop music, but Big Brother contestants tend to be wannabe actors just as much.

When BB1 was on, the popular conspiracy theory back then was that Nasty Nick was an actor, i.e a fake housemate paid and given scripted directions by the producers to add drama to the series. That got said about other contestants in later series, until the show actually did put actors in as fake housemates and gave them scripted directions, like Thaila Zucchi in BB8 and “The People’s Puppet” Michael in BB14.

Similarly, there was internet gossip going round at the time that Makosi in BB6 was actually twins who had secretly been switching throughout the series, but this was just something which had happened with twins Adria & Natalie in Big Brother 5 US the year before. I think that rumour was said about other contestants at some point too, and once again, they stopped using it when the show actually did start putting twins in. (Do you want a full list? Go on then. Sam & Amanda BB8, Jedward CBB8, Karissa & Kristina CBB9, Jack & Joe BB14, Amy & Sally BB16). 

In the final week of BB6 Makosi was reported in the tabloids to have been an actress. The story behind, well, the story was that she was signed to an acting agency, so like most Big Brother contestants she was a wannabe, but that wasn’t what the press were implying, they were implying again that she had been hired as an actress and her antics were scripted.

A year later in BB7 lot of people saw Aisleyne as kind of a successor to Makosi, and what do you know, basically the same story was in the tabloids again, in I think the final week of the series she was “revealed” to have been an actress (and therefore “fake”). Once again, the basis for this wasn’t as much as they were implying.  She had appeared in a film called Rollin’ With The Nines. I haven’t seen it, but apparently she was essentially an extra as a girl in a nightclub and was only given a credit because her character screamed. I looked it up, and it features Simon Webbe from Blue, Rhino from the Gladiators and Vas Blackwood who I mainly remember from Spatz, a CITV sitcom set in a fast food restaurant, and I’m pretty everyone else has forgotten it ever existed.

Aisleyne was also in a film called Anuvahood. Was that the same film she turned down Ultimate Big Brother to do? It was probably a wise choice, Ultimate Big Brother
was hardly a high point in the franchise. (And to think that could have been the last ever series!). I haven’t seen Anuvahood either, but looking it up it’s another one with an
interesting cast. Definite potential Only Connect question there if it hasn’t been used already. “What links Dennis Pennis, Asher D, JJ from Skins and Little Miss. Jocelyn?”

Makosi has appeared in a film called Cash and Curry, which also features Kinga from BB6 and Faria Alam from CBB4. Again, I haven’t seen it, but I have to wonder if there’s any other film out there that boasts so many Big Brother alumni. With the obvious exception of Charlie Brooker’s Dead Set, (which I have seen). Maybe it’s time for another Big Brother horror movie parody. I mean, the franchise is very much a Frankenstein’s Monster at this stage.

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