Coming just a couple of days after the civilian series, they spray-painted the prop zebra gold for the celebrity version.
The cast was mainly people who’d been on other reality TV shows. An I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here winner (Christopher Biggins), TWO former The X Factor hate figures (Katie Waissel and Chloe Khan), a former The Apprentice contestant (Saira Khan, who is also a Loose Women panelist, so they killed two birds with one stone with her), a contestant on the US Celebrity Apprentice (Aubrey O’Day, a former member of girlgroup Danity Kane). We even had someone who’d been on another version of Big Brother! (Frankie Grande, who had been on the US Big Brother 16).
Nothing particularly unusual about that, it has been the case for the past few series. But this series would be defined by all the screentime given to three from “staged reality”
shows, (Marnie Simpson from Geordie Shore, Lewis Bloor from The Only Way Is Essex, and Stephen Bear from Ex On The Beach) and that Big Brother was slowly but surely
transforming into one of those shows.
In the first week there were a lot of antics which drew complaints with many viewers being surprised there weren’t people removed from the house. The staged reality bunch were a clique, with Heavy D tagging along, and called themselves “the squad”. They were the typical “cool kids in-crowd” you usually get in Big Brother, and from the beginning their antics irritated other housemates and viewers alike, not least the nasty, domineering tone they had. In a game of Truth or Dare, Marnie got her tits out in front of Saira and shook them in her face. The next day, Marnie gave Saira a non-apology first that it was “just a joke” and then claiming it was “an ice breaker”. Yeah, I bet Marnie didn’t even believe that rubbish herself. Lewis said that the squad would be “picking a new victim”, which turned out to be DJ James Whale. Lewis, Bear and Heavy D all circling around and pestering James who just wanted to be left alone was particularly nasty to watch. He eventually poured coffee beans all over Bear, who poured sugar over James. Then JAMES apologised! Frankly, as overused as this word is in the context of Big Brother, the squad’s antics came off as playground bullying.
In a task where some housemates had to act as servants (or “artificials”, as the task was robot themed) for others, Bear abused this power by making Lewis stand still when he
was desperate for a piss, and particularly targetted Aubery. Heavy D, bitter that Chloe didn’t fancy him, made Chloe wash his underpants.
The artificials got their revenge. Chloe poured water in Heavy D’s shoe. (“Awww, thirsty shoe. Needs a drink”). Then she put chilli powder, suntan lotion, condoms, baby oil and tampax in his bed. But that’s nothing compared to what Aubrey did! She spat in the tea and the jam sandwich Bear ordered her to make for him. Rightly, she was given a formal warning. Bear was told about it, and later asked Aubrey to spit directly into his mouth, which she did! A gross moment in a series that would have plenty more.
Bear and Chloe started making out, Heavy D saw it and sulked. Arguments started at 2AM, with Bear throwing a glass and smashing a mirror. He was called to the Diary Room, and threatened to “turn this gaff over”. Then the big, burly security guard named Tom was sent in, and Bear nearly shat himself and gave up instantly.
Everyone thought that the way this series was going, there had to be a removal by the end of the week, and there was. But I bet nobody expected it to be who it was!
Christopher Biggins, the favourite to win, was told to leave the house. It’s quite a fall from grace to go from winning I’m A Celebrity to getting kicked out before the first eviction in Celebrity Big Brother.
[Edit – 28/08/16] It’s a little unclear as to what was the precise reason why he was removed, but it seems he had been given several warnings for comments that could be offensive to the public. He had continually voiced some bad attitudes about bisexuality, but there was an incident which wasn’t broadcast and became infamous. After she came out of the house, Katie Waissel said that she was talking about when she visited Auschwitz, which had a deep, poignant effect on her, particularly as she is Jewish herself, and it has been said that at some point later on Christopher Biggins made a distasteful ‘joke’ to Katie about Nazi gas chambers, which shocked and upset Katie, and Biggins was given a formal warning for it. But again, it all seems rather unclear. Either way, the show decided not to broadcast that particular incident, and a few days later decided to remove Biggins from the house.
To be honest, from the start in CBB18 Biggins was less “national treasure” and more “relic from a bygone age”. It was mostly like Ken Morely in CBB15, an old man from another generation with outdated, even bigoted, views, and his removal being a final straw as they never learned despite multiple warnings.
The first proper eviction, which happened on the same day as Christopher Biggins’ removal, was Grant Bovey. He used to be married to Anthea Turner, who appeared
on the first ever Celebrity Big Brother. Grant was stilted and boring. He had been known as a serial love rat, but he’s a bit too old for it now. He seemed to fancy Marnie, which came off as a bit pathetic more than anything. Anyway, he was out first and soon forgotten. It says something that on his own eviction night his exit was only the third most notable thing that happened! Not only was he upstaged by the news that Christopher Biggins had been kicked out before, he was also upstaged after by an eviction twist which saw Bear be voted by the other housemates to have a Killer Nomination and be up for every eviction.
The second evictee was Saira Khan, who was a bit of a buzzkill, frankly. She’d always voicing her disapproval in a very condescending way. If she has a problem, there’s no solving it with her, only complaining. She sometimes made good points, such as the showmance stuff happening because it was the stock in trade for scripted reality stars, and what a co-incidence there was some lovers tiff on eviction nights, meaning more screentime and more votes to save. But she didn’t exactly make it easy to like her.
She made fun of it all later by putting on a massive pair of fake breasts and then having a fake lovers tiff with Heavy D, and gave a massive non-apology to Chloe over it (“I have to apologise that you took it so personally”).
The squad got worse and worse though. Lewis and Marnie got into a showmance, taking all the wine and beer for themselves. They both seemed to have this view of themselves as “the golden couple” and “the beautiful people”, so they were entitled to just have everything. We saw Marnie and Lewis full frontal nudity, then Bear and Chloe half naked and all over each other in the bathroom, and the latter couple seemed to love the fact they were being watched. The decadent, selfish behavior of the squad saw them drunkenly knocking plants over, shagging in showers, screaming all the time. Katie, Ricky, James, Sam, Frankie and Aubrey all went in the Diary Room and threatened to leave.
Eventually, they all teamed up and Aubrey, getting into strategic gameplaying, said that they had numbers on their side, so they could make sure all of the squad were on the chopping block for every eviction. She got punished for discussing nominations, but she could hardly be blamed considering what the squad had been like.
For the next few evictions, nearly all the squad were up for eviction, and most of the time one of them went. Chloe was evicted during a spinning wheel task between the bottom 2, herself and Marnie. The other housemates had to choose between them, and almost all of them chose Chloe to go. It was a little pointless, as I suspect Chloe would have had the fewest votes anyway.
Chloe Khan appeared in the audition stages of The X Factor, and was then known as Chloe Mafia. Since then she’s become a Playboy model. She’s a vegetarian but eats fish, and implied she thinks fish are plants. Don’t ever buy Chloe a goldfish then! I don’t think she’d eat it, but she might put the poor thing in a plant pot, cover it with soil and wonder why she hasn’t got a fish tree. Or perhaps if you were to get her some flowers she’d just chuck them in an aquarium. Even by Big Brother’s low standards, Chloe was THICK. Other than all the Bear stuff, she’ll probably be remembered for her beach ball boobs and throwing bits of cake around in the bedroom.
Heavy D, real name Colin, again even by Celebrity Big Brother‘s low standards, is stretching the definition of “celebrity”. He was at the bottom of the fame list even among this cast. Apparently he’s on something called Storage Hunters UK on Dave. He doesn’t have a Wikipedia page of his own, unlike the late rapper of the same name.
The Storage Hunters UK Heavy D entered CBB18 wearing a gaudy lime green suit covered with multi-coloured ice creams. He began as a living fat joke. He said he had bigger tits than any of the girls. (“Could I do page 3?” he asked. “Page 3, 4 and 5” former glamour model Samantha Fox replied). Then he broke the bed. But from that already low start
it was mainly downhill from there. He was one dimensional. Yet another housemate with nothing to offer other than a grotesque appearance and a “catchphrase” that was just loudly shouting one commonly used word all the time. He was mostly like Simon from BB16, Simon screeched “SHOWBIZ” constantly, Heavy D bellowed “BOOM!” constantly. He was hard to watch at times. He fancied Chloe, who wasn’t interested, so cue the sour grapes and misogyny from Heavy D. He was desperate to be in the lad’s in-crowd – who seemed to tolerate him more than like him – and copied off what Bear was doing. He started throwing cereal on the floor and eggs on the carpet because Bear did something similar. All of which would be bad enough, but Heavy D is 43 years old! Aubrey once said “the most disgusting human being” was the nicest way she could describe him. He fell out with Lewis a couple of times, the final time being the day before Heavy D’s eviction.
With the tasks this series, they used that old favourite, Ignore the Obvious. Housemates had to balance three doughnuts on top of their head while people came in, such as a window cleaner/stripper, and people they knew. Samantha got a tearful reunion with her mum. But the big one was Bear’s girlfriend outside the house Lillie Lexie Gregg. She sobbed that she had been supporting him and felt humiliated about him cheating on her with Chloe. Bear didn’t give her an answer, he just shrugged! He had plenty of tears for himself though, when he was crying about how unfair it was on him in the Diary Room later.
Aubrey and Ricky had to count cartoon sheep on a screen, while real sheep came in, as well as video messages from Aubrey’s boyfriend and Ricky’s best mate.
The School Task saw the house woken up to ‘…Baby One More Time’ by Britney Spears and the editing referenced the Grange Hill title sequence. The best part of it was after banning the word “Boom”, the school disco trolled the housemates with songs ‘Boom Boom Boom’ by the Outhere Brothers, ‘Boom Boom Pow’ by the Black Eyed Peas and
‘Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom’ by the Vengaboys.
There was a Christmas themed task, in August. Which I’m certain definitely wasn’t in any way to coincide with Channel 5 showing a lot of Christmas films on their “Christmas Came Early” week. Well, the adverts for Christmas get earlier every year. They used to at least wait until after Halloween, last year it was before Halloween, might as well be summer now. To be fair, Big Brother did a nice job decorating the house festively, with tinsel and snow and Christmas trees. The teams were split up into Team Elf and Team Reindeer with the housemates wearing Christmas party fancy dress chic like green outfits and red antlers.
The last two rounds of nominations saw double evictions. First, Lewis and James went.
Lewis Bloor told Marnie he needed her to “teach [him] how to love”. He could start with being a bit less in love with himself. He likes to look at himself in the mirror a lot. He’s the living embodiment of a smug, self-aggrandising social media profile. Going on about his “five year plan”, apps, how much time he spends in the gym, creating a pretty picture of himself and his girlfriend looking superficially good, but with little substance behind it. I’ve lost track of all the white noise that his showmance with Marnie was, it was so dull. I vaguely remember some row about him dating a model that was on Marnie’s box of fake eyelashes? Meh, I’m sure anyone who cares will be able to see it all play out in the showbiz goss magazines.
James Whale is a talk radio DJ, and seemed incapable of talking as anything other than an exaggerated DJ tone of voice, a bit like Guy the classically trained voice over actor and his friends in Monkey Dust. James didn’t do much in CBB18, he was basically a grumpy old man who just wants to sit on the couch and have an easy life. Well, I guess it sort of worked for Jason who just won BB17, but he was middle aged rather than old per se, and either way that sort of tactic was unlikely to work two series in a row.
Then in the second double eviction, Katie and Samantha went.
Katie Waissel had been a huge tabloid and internet hate figure when she appeared series 7 of The X Factor, but during her run on CBB18, she seemed OK for the most part.
Her most memorable moments however were arguments. She clashed with Heavy D a few times, telling him to clean up his own mess. Another time, Heavy D called her irrelevant and an X Factor reject, to which she replied that 6 years after The X Factor she’s still getting asked for these shows, and that Heavy D can hardly throw stones for being irrelevant as he is “as current as a stale piece of bread”, or as she later said “My grandma’s more famous than you, you fucking piece of shit!”. Well, that’s a fair point, more people will have heard of the tabloid headlines involving Katie’s grandma than know who Heavy D is. It was no surprise she was evicted after finding out that Frankie nominated her, she didn’t take it very well, crying and saying “Wow!” a lot, despite the fact she had nominated Frankie. After she had been evicted she said that she nominated Frankie because she expected him to nominate her. She seems incredibly insecure. I don’t know if she was like this while on The X Factor or became it afterwards, but she’s probably a bit of a cautionary tale for “fame” not really being worth it.
Samantha Fox‘s high point was performing her hit single ‘Touch Me (I Want Your Body)’ during a talent show task. Yes, I genuinely really like ‘Touch Me (I Want Your Body)’ as a pop song, what of it?
It was moving to hear Samantha talk about the death of her partner of 16 years Myra Stratton, and the bucket list she did before she died. Samantha said a few interesting quotes. “As you get older, life goes so quick, but you get more confidence”. It might not be the most original statement, but I think there is a lot of truth in it. I liked her “Don’t ever try it, this Fox don’t buy it” quip too.
If anything went wrong for Samantha, it seems she believes her own hype. She kept going on about how the public love “Our Sam”, she always keeps a Sharpie permanent marker because she’s always asked for autographs, unlike modern glamour models it was ART when she was getting her baps out for money, and it was in family newspapers, that she single-handedly changed everyone’s view of glamour models, she’s an international popstar etc etc etc.
In her eviction interview though, Samantha revealed that in one of Bear’s “hilarious” pranks he sprayed water directly in her eye, and as she was wearing contact lenses it damaged one of her eyes. She said medics were called, and she had to wear an eye patch and couldn’t open her eye for a while. All of this was edited out.
Katie and Bear had eaten pies they weren’t allowed to eat, so Big Brother said they were to be punished by the other housemates giving them a custard pie in the face. Bear as usual felt that mere rules don’t apply to him, so shoved a pie in Aubrey’s face. The rest of the day saw a lot of resentment between the two, with both pouring food on each others beds. That night, Bear starting another argument with Aubrey while they were making their beds. Bear bit off more than he could chew in this instance, as Aubrey gave an epic, razor-tongued Reason You Suck speech at Bear, calling him “trash”, “immature”, “a disease”, “herpes”, “a waste of a life” and to “go run, you little bitch”, among other things but the best part of it wasn’t even the harshest comments, it was the home truths.
Aubrey told him:
“Bear, you can win, I know this your dream. I have platinum albums, I have performed at Madison Square Garden. You can have Big Brother baby. I know this is the biggest achievement you’ll probably ever have in life, you can have it. Yes really, this is probably the biggest thing you’ll ever do with your life.”
“You’re not a survivor, you’re an asshole and they’re keeping you in because you’re a big asshole and they like to see that. They don’t think you’re alright Bear, they like laughing at you. You’re an exclamation point, you’re a punch-line. You’re going to get fifteen minutes and it’s going to be over and being an asshole isn’t going to get you a pay-cheque any more so you should really fucking rethink your strategy because fucking being an asshole and fucking selling fifteen minutes of hype doesn’t mean shit.”
“I don’t care, don’t you get it? You’re the only one that cares. You’re the only one that has to put on an act because who you are doesn’t sell”.
One the biggest controversies though came with the final live feed of the series on Channel 5 and later 5STAR. The housemates were all getting ready for bed, then, much to their annoyance, they had to get back dressed and sit back on the sofa just to be told they were finalists. This looked like it was some sort of reshoot. Then they left, and were back in the living room again to dance to music which was muted out so they wouldn’t have to pay to broadcast it. The housemates were then in the Diary Room, which was briefly shown on the TV screen above the main sofa for some reason, then there were lots of shots of empty rooms.
Then came the big controversy. After the housemates went to bed and said goodnight to each other, lights went off, someone farted, then Big Brother said “Finalists, goodnight”. Then the lights came back on, Ricky said “Great take guys, great take” and they all got up again – all of them more or less fully dressed! Big Brother told them they had to get ready to go to sleep as they had a big day tomorrow!
It led to speculation that the whole show is scripted. I think that’s probably jumping to conclusions, it was likely so they could have some footage for the final highlights that was brief enough but interesting enough to broadcast, though probably because it had caused such a stir they didn’t put most of this in the final highlights show in the end. It does show how increasingly stage managed the programme has become however.
Frankie Grande finished in 6th place. He had been on the US version of Big Brother 16, but his main claim to fame is that he is the brother of singer Ariana Grande, who made a cameo as part of a video message to her brother. Frankie seems to be always covered in glitter, leaving sprinklings of it as he walks by. He was a highlight of some of the tasks. He was pretty good at playing a robot, doing the movements, sound effects and voice well. That’s assuming he isn’t actually a robot. In a Hollywood task he had to act out movie genres one after the other without the other housemates knowing what he was doing, which was quite funny. Action (crawling like a spy on the floor), horror (pretending the be a zombie), musical (singing a song he made up), all centred around him jumping in the pool. He did a good job during the Daytime TV task as a fashion correspondent. He says he’s going to do another Big Brother series. Is he going for Nikki Grahame’s tally?
They’re bound to run into each other on the same series at some point.
Singer Aubrey O’Day finished in 5th place. Aubrey was astute, and very good at reading others. She was by far the best strategic gameplayer this series. She managed to avoid facing any of the evictions! She was probably my favourite housemate of CBB18. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t at all condone her spitting in Bear’s food and drink, that reason alone would be enough for her not to be my favourite in most series, but unfortunately it was slim pickings with this series. She accurately predicted how the final would go too, I liked her resigned “it’s going to be an unfair result, but let’s just get through it” advice to an agitated Renee.
4th place went to Marnie Simpson. Someone from Geordie Shore didn’t win by simply turning up! That makes a change at least. She was probably the most likable of “the squad”, and seemed much more pleasant when most of them had gone, certainly more after Lewis had gone so she wasn’t part of that dreary nothing of a showmance or running around naked. But that still doesn’t reflect greatly on her really. It just showed how impressionable and how much of a sheep she is. Her most memorable moment was probably showing her blowjob technique with a banana.
3rd place was Renee Graziano, who is from an American reality TV series called Mob Wives. She was a bit like CBB6 contestant Tina Malone, who played a sort-of mob wife, Mimi Maguire in Shameless. Renee was a far better housemate than Tina Malone was though. Tina Malone was mostly bitter and loud. Renee showed a lot more dimensions. She was very, very, very emotional, angry shouting one minute and in tears the next. Renee, by her own admission, sounded like a movie character, but I’d say she acted more like a soap character, that sort of TOUGH but with a HEART matriarch type. In spite of what I’ve just said, Renee was also probably the most “real” housemate this series, in a “What you see is what you get” sort of way. I liked this she said about Bear. “He’s the fucking chewed gum with pebbles on the bottom of my sneaker!” Renee finished third, and Emma Willis told her “you’re the last woman standing”. Renee replied “I’ll always be the last woman standing”.
Runner-up was Ricky Norwood, best known for playing Fatboy on EastEnders. Ricky seems nice enough, if nothing out of the ordinary. Honestly, though I can’t say he would have been a “deserving” winner, more of a default one, on the grounds that he was the least annoying and probably the most well known to the casual viewer having been in EastEnders. He couldn’t be bothered doing tasks. He and Frankie were asked to show how outrageous they could be, Ricky just drew a Big Brother eye on his hand and said “This is as outrageous as I get”. He refused to drink century eggnog for a task. In fact, he didn’t really get involved much at all. He would still have been a more satisfying winner than what we got though.
The winner was Stephen Bear. He was an obnoixous wanker, constantly goading the others. Housemates like him are always defended as being “a wind-up merchant”, but I’ve never bought that as a good defence. Intentionally annoying is still annoying, and defining yourself by your ability to goad and irritate others and make them upset and angry suggests you’re a bit of a nasty piece of work really. While I can see the logic behind casting housemates like this on Big Brother, they are best used sparingly. Sure, put them in
half-way to stir things up, but get rid of them in a week or so. Their kind of schtick gets old very, very quickly. The show just becomes about this one housemates same repetiive antics over and over and over again, and its draining enough to watch, so no wonder it sucks the life out of other housemates having to live in that confined space all day every day. But instead, the production team become desperate to keep them in and they gain fanbases which put them on a pedastal, act like any bad consequences for their actions are everyone elses fault, and hail them as some sort of comedy genius. In Bear’s case, his “comedy genius” was mainly stuff like pouring tomato soup all over the bathroom or deliberately tripping up to drop eggs. As the official website put it, “He uses all his brain power to come up with the clever plan of pouring soup everywhere”. Later he poured olive oil all over the garden and smeared jam over a year book. What an imagination this bloke has.
He spent a lot of time congratulating himself for pushing other peoples buttons, and like all these “pranksters” /glorified playground bullies, he could dish it out but couldn’t take it. He accused everyone else of taking things too seriously, but when he got eternal nomination, when Chloe was evicted, when Lewis was evicted, in fact when anything at all didn’t go his way he threw a tantrum over it. When he was reprimanded in the Diary Room it was like they were telling off a toddler, not a grown man who is in his late 20s. They essentially let him get away with everything. He hammed it up more and more as time went on, and kept doing stuff like farting loudly and shouting his one word catchphrase “Roofless!”. It wasn’t even annoying eventually, just grating and exhausting.
It seemed inevitale he would win. During the CBB ad breaks there was cross promotion of adverts for Ex On The Beach heavily spotlighting him, and he ended up eating up nearly
all the screentime. If anything, if the voting figures released on the internet are true, its surprising how little he won by. Apparently there was only 1% difference between him and Ricky. Bear’s winners interview was, predictably, a load of hot air, but I liked that Emma Willis clearly didn’t have any time for his nonsense.
They didn’t show Emma and Rylan’s predictions for the winner which they made at the beginning of the series. I bet that it was almost certainly Christopher Biggins they picked, and the show seems to be airbrushing him out of history.
I’ve always thought two CBBs a year was overkill, but it is strange how the winter series is usually very good while the summer series is usually poor. Maybe it’s because it comes so close to the civillian series (which are, arguably, even worse). Or maybe the Big Brother production team’s minds work better in colder temperatures than they do in warmer ones. Either way, I’m starting to think I was right the first time when I used to not bother watching the summer CBB.
CBB18 was without a doubt a terrible one for the franchise. It sets a bad precedent for the direction of the series, with the focus given to one housemate playing up to the cameras and rewarded for being a selfish, provocative bellend and the rest of the screentime going to a painfully generic contrived showmance. Many things went wrong, from their biggest “star” Christopher Biggins having to be removed to the live feed revealing that they stage some scenes. Whether this will be the beginning of the end remains to be seen, but I’d say this series might have done significant damage.
A few random observations to finish off:
Emma Willis was one of the more refreshing parts of the show for not sucking up to Bear. She said Bear infuriated her by his gurning for the cameras while she was trying to do her job and how annoying it was that he had to make everything about him.
Emma also said what a lot of viewers were thinking “I don’t want to see Marnie from Geordie Shore, I want to see Marnie, I don’t want to watch Geordie Shore and I
don’t want to watch Ex On The Beach, I want to watch Big Brother!” That sums up a problem with the franchise in general and this series in particular. Its becoming more and more like a scripted reality show, and there are already too many of those out there.
Emma and Rylan seeing a big spider and acting like 1940s cartoon housewives being all “Eek, a mouse!” and jumping on a chair. The pair of them just needed to be wearing aprons!
CBB9 winner Denise Welch made a good point. “I think in this world there are a lot of people who get away these days with being really nasty, vicious and goading and saying
it’s only banter!”
All three of the American housemates made it to the final! Renee, Aubrey, Frankie were the best housemates in this series. They deserved a better series to be in really. It would have been interesting to see how they would have fared in CBB16: UK vs. USA. In that series, all the finalists were British and the only American left was Austin Armacost, who at the time was living in Britain.
I liked that every finalist got their own interview this time. It’s a bit annoying when they have shared interviews anyway, but if someone’s managed to get to the final, they should at least have their own interview. If the show can’t make time for that, then maybe they shouldn’t have that many finalists in the first place.
All the animals this series! As well as the prop zebra and rabbit we had surnames Bear, Fox, Whale plus Aubrey always wearing cat ears, and on the penultimate night, mouse ears.
Bear painted half his face like The Joker on one eviction night, so like Two Face. Maybe he got his Batman villains mixed up? Does Aubrey count as Catwoman then?
The sponsorship ident this time was Pink Casino, featuring a blonde girl named Katie dressed up as Cleopatra, a cat, stroking a toy cat, wearing a pink wig, rubbing a genie lamp
and playing air guitar. Not all at the same time, though that might have been more interesting. You know what, sod the rumoured “Celebrity Big Brother Allstars” series, I want one with the sponsor ident cast memebers. Pink Casino Katie, Super Cassandra, that workman who stood in for Super Cassandra at one time, and the Betway sofa couple with the cute boyfriend. Super Cassandra to win!