Big Brother 18

Big Brother 18 made a big deal about how it was reflecting the state of Britain in 2017, and they also said that everyone had to audition in pairs. It turned out, as per usual, that these new gimmicks didn’t really matter. It also followed the pattern of the most recent civilian series of being very messy and not really knowing what kind of show it wants to be.

It had one of the best house designs ever, modelled on a stereotypical British village, though in practice it was more on a gaudy overdressed side, like TV and film versions of an American pastel coloured suburban street.

The main room looked like a village green. The kitchen was a tea room, the bathroom was a salon, the Diary Room was decorated like a sofa dumped in a field. There were shops with retro 1970s style packaging on the products. The two bedrooms were stylised as Rose Cottage, like a cosy Grandma-in-Red-Hiding-Hood fairytale cottage, and Thorn Cottage, basically the same but dilapidated and covered in graffiti. Eventually, this became like BB9, with rival camps in the Luxury Bedroom vs. B-Block.

There was yet another crappy launch night twist, this time The People’s Housemate, which they kind of did before in BB14, but this time it was a real housemate not an actor and they told the housemates what was going on from the start, a good thing as they pretty much figured the People’s Housemate twist on launch night in BB14.

Tom was chosen, he got to hear people’s comments on Facebook and Twitter, got to choose who was up for the public vote, and when it came to who was left in the bottom 2, he got to choose who went. He chose Mandy, and it turned out she had the fewest votes to save anyway, so it was a little pointless really.

Antiques dealer Mandy entered with her daughter Charlotte. Most of her time was the show calling her “Randy Mandy”, characterising her as a cougar who fancied some of the hunky young guys. Other than that, she had barely any screentime, her Best Bits montage seemed over in about 5 seconds.

They said this year’s series was going to be themed around the divided political climate in the UK, but that never really materialised. There was a “politics debate” task, and it was PAINFUL, as it was so dumbed down.

On the first eviction night, host Emma Willis told them the General Election result. They were possibly hoping to recreate last year when the housemates were told the EU Referendum result weeks after it happened. The difference then was just that though, it was weeks later, lots of stuff had happened in that time, so it was more dramatic seeing the housemates get all of that news at once. While a hung parliament was certainly a surprising result, announcing that the day after just a few hours later than most people heard it there wasn’t really anything to say other than, at that moment, technically no party had overall control so it was in a bit of a limbo.

An early problem people observed with the casting was how many were from other reality TV shows. Arthur had been on Life Is Toff and The F***ing Fulfords. Ellie had been on Ibiza Weekender. Joe had been on Tenerife Uncovered and King Of Clubs. THREE of them had been on Ex On The Beach! (Chanelle, Kayleigh, Kieran).

Then they did that BB Hotel task thing they did in BB16, inviting ex-Celebrity Big Brother housemates back for the current housemates to be servants to. This time the brought back Marnie Simpson, Gemma Collins (two more scripted reality “stars” to add to the pile) and Nicola McClean, who had already been back once this year for the January Celebrity Big Brother.

Marnie was in because housemate Kayleigh doesn’t like Marnie’s friend Charlotte Crosby because Kayleigh’s boyfriend has Crosby tattooed … fricking hell, I know this is Big Brother, but I couldn’t take listening to this load of stupid high school crap.

Having said that, small disagreements being taken like they are Earth-shattering are par for the course on Big Brother. Sukhvinder was angry at Kayleigh for brushing her hair near the food. (I was Team Sukhvinder about this, it’s thoughtless at best, not to mention unhygienic).

Chanelle put a bread bag on top of Sukhvinder’s head, and she got angry about it. Then later Sukhvinder stashed a full bottle of wine for people in the hot tub. It caused resentment in the house so her husband Imran said not to hide any more wine, and Sukvinder completely lost her temper, then started crying, accusing Imran of siding with the others. In bed she loudly sobbed “It’s the same on the outside”. The whole thing was bit uncomfortable and upsetting to watch really.

Obligatory posh boy Arthur had a lot of hype on social media and forums, as these obligatory posh boys tend to do. On launch he took clothes off the mannequin and wore them himself, that was quite funny, but other than that I never got all the fuss over him. He annoyed most of the housemates, not least by moving food from the kitchen into the storeroom. To be honest, Arthur didn’t really do himself any favours. He went out of his way to name-call, provoke and wind up others, then afterwards doing “I’m sorry you were offended” style non-apologies and then acting like he was a victim. Everyone could see he was attention-seeking. Arthur left the house after “a confidential off-camera conversation”. He was banned from attending the final, which definitely suggests it was more like a removal than a voluntary departure, but it looks like we’ll never be told, so, shrug.

Imran came bottom of the week 2 vote to save and was evicted, and Sukhvinder walked out with him! That was a first for Big Brother.  Sukhvinder and Imran from Leeds were two of the more interesting housemates, being a couple who were from a Sikh family (Sukhvinder) and a Muslim family (Imran). Imran seemed OK, but was very much one of those “just there” type of housemates. Sukhvinder on the other hand definitely caused some drama. I actually really liked her as a person though, she seemed like someone I’d get on with. She had a fair point about the casting, she thought it would be “everyday people from across the UK” rather than most of the housemates already having agents.

Only a day later there was yet another non-eviction exit, this time the housemate was removed from the show altogether. Kayleigh was so incredibly shallow I couldn’t be bothered with her. After Chanelle said Ellie was in Kayleigh’s shadow, it became a huge argument, with Kayleigh saying “I’ll smash your face in!” then in Diary Room ranting, swearing, hitting things, and talking about smashing a sharp object in Chanelle’s face. Kayleigh had bragged about her fanbase voting to save her. In the episode which had shown her removal, the Channel 5 continuity announcer quipped “Well, at least she’s got her fanbase”. Burn!

That episode is notable actually. In one episode, we had an eviction (Imran), a walker (Sukhvinder) and a removal (Kayleigh). Another Big Brother first!

A Blind Date themed task, no doubt thought up because Channel 5 was reviving Blind Date, saw two new housemates enter, Isabelle and Savannah.

Rebecca, who runs something called The Lady Detective Agency, entered as a pair with one of her employees, Kieran. She seemed one of the big characters in the early weeks, so her eviction was something of a surprise. She had a big argument with Joe. Rebecca asked if Joe would speak to his daughter like that, Joe blew his top and asked how dare you bring his daughter into it, then they tried to get the whole house involved in it. Apparently it was a very close result with only a few votes in it, but I think Rebecca is the sort of housemate where people find her quite entertaining but nobody particularly likes her, so still might not get many votes to save.

For the next couple of weeks there was house divide with two sides. The plush Rose Cottage was where the In Crowd, or “Groovy Gang” as they called themselves were, and the run-down Thorn Cottage was where the underdogs were.

For a task some housemates had to be locked in a room while Hannah’s loud, shouty singing played on a loop. Lotan decided to get a toy mouse from the task room and put in Hannah’s bed, as Hannah is scared of mice. Lotan insisted they were “trying to have a laugh”, but it came across more as petty vengeance for the task.

After Chanelle and Isabelle poured suncream and ketchup on the kitchen floor, they were ordered to clean it up after housemates complained. Though Chanelle noted that the “Groovy Gang” throwing liquid chocolate everywhere the night before, some of which got on Hannah’s clothes, was apparently not a problem for them. It was all blown out of all proportion, but again it was really about the house divide more than anything.

Lotan was extremely smug and arrogant. He was just like a jock who is the head of the cool clique in a high school movie. He had a completely inflated sense of his own importance, acting like he owned the whole house, that he was the alpha male no questions asked – and his group just let him!

He branded Chanelle and Isabelle “intellectually inferior” to him, and went out of his way to exclude Isabelle. He told her “Come the weekend, you’re up and out”. That would come back to haunt him. But not before he threw a strop over a Truth or Dare game, because Isabelle GIGGLED! Lotan’s clique all piled in at Isabelle for it, and Chanelle stuck up for her “I’m not having five against one”.

Lotan smashed the exit door down, with Ellie reached her peak patheticness bawling over it. There had been a contrived showmance with Ellie and Lotan with Ellie going on about how he’d never fancy her and he was so much better looking than her, despite them both being about equal in the looks department. Anyway, Lotan came back and the Rose Cottage lot weeping and running to hug him like he was the Second Coming was embarrassing.

Then there were the events which ended up being dubbed Fight Night 3 (after the ones in BB5 and BB9). It started with a game where the housemates had to put stickers with personality traits on them. Lotan asked Isabelle why he’s vain, she just said he looks in the mirror all the time. He kept having a go at Isabelle until she said he was a bad role model to his son. Which is a criticism of Lotan, not his son, but try telling most of these housemates that. Lotan threw a bottle across the room, and was in the Diary Room shouting and banging. He got removed from the house.

Also, Hannah thought Ellie had hit her when she had just brushed past her. Ellie, at the top of the stairs, screamed at Deborah to hit her, then Deborah raced up the stairs, with Raph getting there before the security guard to stop her. Deborah’s stairs moment was quite funny though.

As punishment all nominations were voided, and everyone was up. Despite all the weird worship of Lotan from some while he had been in the house, after he was removed nobody seemed to give a toss that he had gone!

Big Brother did a hippy task to get everyone to like each other. Chanelle, Ellie and Isabelle put glitter on their boobs, and Tom and Kieran had some on their beards which made them look like tinsel. Most of it was a little boring to watch though. More interesting was what happened outside the house that week.

For the first time ever, they revealed the full voting figures while the voting was going on. At first, Isabelle was way ahead with 35.62%! That was likely from bitter Lotan stans out for vengeance. Anyway, revealing it allowed people to vote for someone else to go to save Isabelle, who had been a good housemate. Initial 3rd in vote and fellow newcomer Savannah was evicted. She went from 13% at the beginning of the week and was evicted with 36.32% of the vote by the time lines closed.

Savannah kept talking about “our side” walking in a pack, when she’d only been there two minutes! Despite her insistence at being in the so-called “Groovy Gang”, Savannah seemed quite sour and dull, not to mention a namedropper extraordinaire with the popstars she’s met in her oh-so-fabulous L.A. lifestyle. She left sneering “I have a life outside”. To be fair, she seemed genuinely pleased to be going, she did say that Isabelle “was in the right with the Lotan thing”. But she was definitely the most useless housemate this year.

The final batch of newcomers were ones who hadn’t been chosen to become housemates either from the People’s Housemate public vote (Andrew, Simone and Sue) or in Sam’s case wasn’t chosen to go in by the housemates in the Blind Date task. They were called the Second Chance Housemates, and in a rather pointless twist they weren’t eligible to win, but were eligible to get some of the prize money.

Almost immediately there was a showmance with Sam and Ellie (and no, the show never officially gave them a portmanteau couple name, probably because the obvious one would be Samonella.) It wasn’t as bad as the Ellie/Lotan stuff, but it was still mostly boring. It was on/off/on/off/on/off/on/off etc.

A task where they had to have brightly coloured spray tans turned Sam green and Ellie blue, making them look like The Incredible Hulk and Smurfette! There’s probably some shipping fanfic of that out there somewhere.

The entrance of the newcomers also saw an area known as The Void, where housemates could discuss nominations.

Sue was particularly keen on this. She had her take on the goings on of the house, and everyone was going to hear it. She went on and on about how everyone, including herself to be fair, was playing a game. Tom, drunk out of his head, slurred he was in FOR THE EXPERIENCE and splashed about in the pool. She said Sam and Ellie was just “showmance shit”.

Tom ripped his microphone off and said he wanted to go home and see his girlfriend on the outside world. He asked Big Brother to call Ellie into the Diary Room, which they did. But then he broke out of the Diary Room, much to Ellie’s astonishment, and security had to put him back in.

GEEE-ZUR! Joe complained the most about the Second Chance housemates getting some of the winner’s prize money. Like he was ever really in with a chance of winning anyway. In fact, he was evicted at the end of the week. Joe is apparently aged 56, but looked like some ancient Pharoah mummy. There was a suspicion he might actually have been BB17 contestant Chelsea Singh wearing a leathery mask and eyeliner. Joe was incredibly joyless. He was a bit like a playground bully towards Raph, having him in a headlock one time and saying they could eat him if they go hungry. He went on about how he “don’t give a fuck”, he said that about a million times, so clearly he does. On his eviction he flicked V-signs everywhere as he came out of the house. Good riddance.

Simone pulled a prank by putting a bottle in Kieran’s bed, then said in the past she’d pissed in a can for someone to drink! The other housemates became annoyed with her, and she got a bit passive aggressive about that, which just annoyed them even more, but that was probably the intention.

There was a task where the housemates were offered “temptations”, that is family contact, either from videos or appearing in person. The catch was it would drain energy from the house each time, so they’d be with a basic shopping budget. Nearly everyone took the temptation, which is one thing, but all of the blubbing and hysterics were ridiculous. Especially as the Second Chance bunch had been in there literally a few days!

Everyone except Andrew took their temptation, leaving Charlotte and Isabelle having to choose between themselves who’d have to go without. Isabelle said she would, as Charlotte had been in longer. Charlotte was most annoyed with Sue, as not only had she been in for a short time and not only did she spend ages on it, it was to see her DOG! As Charlotte later told Sue “I’m sure you’ve gone on a two week holiday without seeing your dog”.

Charlotte’s returning family member was ex-housemate Mandy. Mandy told her that Chanelle had been slagging her off, and that she should do, well, something. Anything.

The Hunt was instead of normal nominations that week, and had an elaborate woodland set. Big Brother said it was a “fight for survival” and “only the strongest survive!”. Yeah, yeah, yeah Big Brother, the first round of it was basically Pass The Parcel, and the second one was reading mean things said about them on Twitter. Though one of the highlights was Kieran thinking a tweet was about Isabelle… it was actually about him!

Isabelle herself showed more selflessness here, by offering to go up for the public vote when they had to decide if her or Sam should go up. Sam was all too happy to let her do it! So by the end of The Hunt the housemates up for eviction were Chanelle, Isabelle, Simone and Sue.

This was the first of many backdoor evictions this series, where the public voted and the eviction happened late and night and wouldn’t be revealed until the show aired the next night. The lights went out and when they came back again, Simone, who had got the most public eviction votes, was gone.

Aside from the way it was carried out, Simone‘s eviction wasn’t much of a shock. Virtually the whole house had turned on her and she was never all that popular with viewers either. She could be quite funny. She talked about using poppers. She had a late night bedtime snack of crisps and lager! Chavtastic!

Apparently in her interview with Emma before it was due to come on after the adverts Simone had been chewing gum, and the floor manager told her to spit it out… and she literally spat it out into the camera!

However, in the actual interview Simone revealed a lot of her personal family history, that she had gone through a lot of problems and tragic circumstances, so she didn’t take what was happening in the house seriously having been through all that in her life. It was very sad to see really, and I guess it shows as easy as it might be to judge people, you don’t know what their life has been like.

Later that night it was revealed that Isabelle had the fewest votes, so the housemates had to choose between Chanelle and Sue who would go. I think everyone could see how that would turn out, 8 housemates chose to save Chanelle, only Charlotte chose to save Sue, and that was probably because of dislike of Chanelle.

Hurricane Sue” made some good observations. Saying that Ellie was very much being treated as “the baby of the family” or “a puppy from the rescue centre”, and regarding the showmance drama “I hope she’s rehearsing for the waterworks and from the five hours she’ll get five minutes [of airtime]!”. She also said that Chanelle was far too focused on appearance and was paranoid about people judging her. Chanelle didn’t exactly prove this wrong when she overheard it, completely lost her temper and demanded to know why, in her eyes, nobody stuck up for her. You can’t deny Sue tried to play the game. However, Sue straight up said she doesn’t care what other people think. She clearly only wants to hear her own voice. She was massively overhyped online when she failed to be selected as the People’s Housemate and for the next month before she went in. The hype was so much nobody could really live up to it, and overhyped or not she was a good housemate, but she got a bit exhausting towards the end, and she was only in for 2 weeks. The Hurricane moniker is probably fitting. She came in, caused a lot of chaos, then left. I think my favourite part of Sue’s time on Big Brother is her drinking black coffee from a champagne glass one morning.

Week 7’s task was The Steal, where they had to steal money from the prize fund and put some money into it by pressing a buzzer so it would bank it. Isabelle spent some money to talk to her sister, which nobody had a problem with as she missed out in the earlier task, so fair enough really.

Chanelle paid to spend the night in a private bedroom with her boyfriend, and they shagged.

Raph paid to talk to BB11 winner Josie Gibson.

Andrew put some money in by getting a back, sac and crack done, which were shown many times.

Hannah and Tom had to eat century eggs, so we got to see them projectile vomiting. (Seriously, do people really like to these kind of tasks that much?).

The winning team was given a chance for one of them to win £18,900 if they pressed the buzzer fast enough, but would have to evict another housemate. Andrew pressed it the quickest and evicted Sam, meaning Andrew won the Second Chance prize money £15,000 too. Probably the most sensible option really. Sam had to continue as a “dead man walking” until the Friday eviction show.

Raph got a bit sanctimonious about Andrew’s “tainted money” and saying it was a bad gameplaying move, which didn’t make much sense, as Andrew got all the money he was eligible for, as a Second Chance housemate he was never in the running to win the public vote anyway, and even if he was the previous two winners were Chloe in BB16 and Jason in BB17, and they both took some money from the winner’s prize fund.

In the final round of nominations the housemates were given T-shirts with the reasons people gave for nominating them. Chanelle screamed about it, again. Kieran sulked. Tom was petty. Hannah was annoyed given that she did all the cooking, and Ellie… took it well, to be fair, she laughed it off.

Oh yeah, Andrew threw his stuff in bin bags and went to the Diary Room saying he was leaving, which of course he wasn’t really.

Three went in the eviction night that week. The first was Sam. Well, what to say about Sam? He was a dumb, musclebound, seemed-decent-enough-I-suppose lad. He served a
purpose for allowing Ellie/the programme to continue a showmance. Oh, and he also got his knob out. That’s about it really.

The two proper evictees were two of the big characters of the series, Chanelle and Ellie.

Chanelle may turn out to be the most remembered housemate of BB18. From the start she reminded me of Nikki Grahame, mostly in the sense that she’d be considered “a great housemate”, but people would ultimately have too mixed an opinion of her for her to win. She was funny, doing stuff like talking to the ornament cat. Her unlikely friendship with Raph was nice, and she had the well-trodden Big Brother role of high glam diva sticking up for the underdogs, and was the queen bee of Thorn Cottage. On the other hand, her immaturity, insecurity, bad temper and self-promotion could be a bit off-putting. But all in all, a great Big Brother housemate.

Ellie… wasn’t a great Big Brother housemate. The showmances ate up far too much screentime and made a lot of viewers roll their eyes. She has the type of personality that does well on this show, being a bubbly down-to-earth girl with a regional accent. But she was a bit of a try-hard about it, and seemed to be exaggerating it a little, and a bit like she was trying to copy previous winners Josie BB11 and Chloe BB16. She said “chuffing” way too much. In spite of that though, I quite liked Ellie. I liked that she found her rubbish puns (“eggciting”, “ketchup with me”, “hippypotamus”) so hilarious, that was funny in itself if that makes sense. I did genuinely find this comment she made on playing the game funny: “You don’t play Scrabble and Monopoly at the same time, do you?”. While I wasn’t always a fan of her contribution as a housemate she can’t be accused of not making one, and I bet she’s really easy to get on with in person, I can see why she seemed popular in the house.

In the final week they managed to squeeze in a fake eviction and secret room, this time called The Attic. Hannah and Tom went in, and it was mostly notable for Tom coming across as more likeable than he had for most of the series. While bored he payed football with the giant teddy and rode on the rocking horse pretending to win the Grand National. They had to decide who’d be up for eviction, and they chose Isabelle and Charlotte.

The task that week was Life In The Fast Lane, where through the week they would go through major events in life. As babies in a nursery, Isabelle and Tom had to spell answers to general knowledge questions using giant building blocks. The task showed that Isabelle has reasonably good general knowledge and that Tom is as thick as two short planks.

It was a bit of a cruel eviction really, as it was as part of a seemingly light-hearted school task. The housemates were graded on various things, and then it came to popularity, Charlotte had the most votes to evict, which earned her an F and an instant eviction. She took it quite well, considering.

Charlotte spent most of the series in the background, though sometimes had a snarky comment here and there, like saying she needed a strimmer as she hadn’t shaved her
bikini zone before she got in the house. She seemed to get on well with Andrew. She made an excellent point about the housemates going on like they’d be friends for life, which they won’t, and making pacts to share any money they’ve been awarded, but when they get out obviously they’ll share it with their families, not someone they’ve only known for a few weeks. Charlotte was a bit of a stuck up cow, but relatively smart and amusing one.

The remaining housemates were told they had “made it to the final week”, but superfan Raph knew that in Big Brother there is a subtle but huge difference between “the final week” and “the final”, so he guessed correctly there would be more evictions.

Kieran and Deborah had been flirting a bit throughout the series, and this was probably the best of the love stories this year as it seemed the most real. They got a task where they had to whiz through a whole relationship, from a first date, to engagement, to marriage and divorce. There was a big, glowing plastic diamond engagement ring.

In the wedding, ex-housemates arrived as guests. Rebecca came in to do the “I object!” bit, dressed for a funeral. She revealed that she and Kieran had slept together hours before going into the house. Then she started having a go at Hannah for some reason. She told Hannah “The whole public hates you!” to which Hannah pointed out that unlike Rebecca, she was still in the competition in the final week. She threw the bouquet at Rebecca saying “Maybe you can marry Kieran!”.

Rebecca also had a blazing row with Chanelle, which wasn’t bad TV, but was all a bit embarrassing really.

The last couple of evictions were set in a kind of purgatory. Well, a small room with too doors. One leading to Heaven (apparently Heaven is full of cotton wool and dry ice), and one leading to Hell (Hell is also full of dry ice, but has a red light bulb). Everyone got to see a montage of their time in the house. The whole thing reminded me of that Charlie Brooker joke that in the afterlife everyone will get a Big Brother style interview and a video montage of their Best Bits. Anyway, Heaven really meant a place in the final and Hell really meant eviction. The two not to make it into Heaven were Hannah and Kieran.

Hannah is the current holder of the title Miss. Nigeria UK. She entered with her sister Deborah, but I’d say of the two Deborah was probably most people’s favourite. Not that Hannah was bad, she stuck up for herself quite well over the course of the series. But she could be irritating, certainly very LOUD. In particular when she was singing. It must have been grating to live with. She made up two songs, one was ‘I’m Going To SING and SHIT!’, and the other more popular one was ‘Love, Peace and Harmony’ often sung after the big arguments in the house.

Kieran was probably the best looking guy this year, and in the early weeks he seemed one of the more reasonable housemates. In theory he should have been an obvious safe bet for a finalist at least. However, in the second half of the series he got increasingly hostile and grumpy, and throughout he had a bit of an arrogant and entitled attitude, so slowly but surely viewers were put off him.

The final saw Andrew being given an interview, despite the fact he wasn’t eligible to win and was out of the game already. Of all the housemates that should have been turfed out via the backdoor in the final week why did he stay on? Anyway, he liked to wear goggles and sunglasses on top of his head at the same time. He generally looked like he was coming in fancy dress as Russel Brand. He’s a drama queen and an attention seeker if ever there was one, but, well, he’s a Big Brother contestant. I don’t really know how to evaluate him as a housemate. Most cringeworthy was when he had a crush on Raph, hugging him, then when he started kissing him and Raph dropped to the floor to escape! Andrew is prepared to make a fool of himself on reality TV, and well the show’s dependent on people like that. I wouldn’t say he was anywhere close to “a great housemate”, but he wasn’t a bad one I guess. I dunno, he was alright for what he was I suppose.

The actual finalists were a pretty good final 4 really, they were all fairly likeable and none of them were former reality TV contestants! Says a lot about what sort of housemates are more popular with the viewers doesn’t it?

In 4th place was Tom. He got in to be The People’s Housemate, though after that task finished he showed himself to be a follower of the house in-crowd. He was notable for his obvious small man syndrome, constantly trying to be in with the big lads. When Hannah had an argument with him once she said “Whatever, extra small”, and he got angry and started throwing plates. When Sam came in Tom said he didn’t care how big he was, he could drink him under the table. He drunk so much he was nearly passed out in the Diary Room and said he had “got the spinnies”. Hannah was called to help him. Big Brother advised him not to drink  any more alcohol, and a security guard and Hannah had to feed him a bottle of water like a baby and get him to beddiebyes!

I have to admit, I always thought Tom was kind of adorable in his own way. He actually seemed quite sweet in the last week. I am pleased he made the final and was the longest
lasting of the LADZ group and of the whole “Groovy Gang”.

3rd Place was Deborah. She and Hannah were by far the longest lasting pair in the house, lasting almost the whole series together. Deborah was very well liked by housemates and viewers because she just seemed very normal and nice, and the most genuine person in there. The sort of housemate you rarely get on this show anymore.

Runner-up was Raph, who was from America. He is a Big Brother superfan, having apparently seen every series, every episode and has seen many international versions. It does make me feel ancient when he says that going on Big Brother was his “childhood dream” though! Because of him watching so many previous series and him being a psychology student (eurrgh, don’t get me started on this nonsense Big Brother stereotype about psychology students being manipulative mind readers just because they study psychology). To be fair, Raph is responsible for some of this reaction in his own case, as he said in his introduction video he’d be a game player. He actually turned out to be quite pleasant, if a bit socially awkward. He could be a little wimpish and self-righteous I suppose, and the least said about him voting for Donald Trump the better, but it was quite nice for someone who is a huge Big Brother fan to do well in it.

The winner was Isabelle, who is the first late entrant to win Big Brother since Brian Belo in BB8 (or Katie Price in CBB15 if we count Celebrity Big Brother). The housemate she most reminded me of  though was Aisleyne in BB7, late entrant glamorous blonde who turns out unexpectedly to be one of the key housemates.

Isabelle was the best housemate this series. She did look a bit like a live action version of both The Simpsons Malibu Stacy doll and Janis from The Muppets, right down to the yellow-orange skin because of how much fake-tan she used, but she had a good head on her shoulders.

Isabelle’s strip for a task was a comedy highlight, with the clunky dancing and her unable to get some of her clothes off. She had to fake cry during another task, and had difficulty doing it, poking herself in the eye and thinking of every dead pet she ever had, but then she cried for real when she got her reward for passing – lots of fake tan!

She used to laugh to herself at all the arguments and showmances, or just sat and did her tan. She put it quite well: “I feel like in this house nobody actually knows what the arguments are about”.

She has a lot of admirable qualities, she was calm throughout and showed herself to be selfless multiple times, going without hearing from friends and family and putting herself up for eviction for the benefit of other housemates. It’s quite a turnaround that she almost was evicted against every other housemate and went on to win the whole thing! It was a landslide too, she got 52.7% of the vote of the FINAL SIX!

As Emma put it, “[Isabelle] went in a bronze bombshell, and she’s just won gold!”.

Isabelle said she was giving some of her winnings to mental health charities.

“I just think that mental health is really neglected because people don’t see it – so like, a broken leg is given more attention than like something that’s within your head. [..] People ignore it if you can’t see it.”

Yes, spot on!

There were a few good Marcus Bentley narration quotes.
“Chanelle is being weird”.
“Sue is putting herself in Chanelle’s shoes”. Literally, Sue was wearing Chanelle’s shoes.
“Kieran has realised women are people too”.

Liked that some Noughties classic tracks popped up, such as ‘Gimme The Light’ by Sean Paul and ‘AM To PM’ by Christina Milian. On one task they had Team Black and Team Gold, and I wished they’d played ‘Black & Gold’ by Sam Sparro!

The housemates this year included people who believe mermaids and unicorns exist and that the Earth is flat. Make of that what you will.

There was a very strange task housemates had to have their feet licked by a husky, two ferrets, and … a fat bald bloke.

One of the best tasks was the Gnome Task, with Rebecca having a big role. The gnomes were hidden around the house and the housemates had to find them and get them to the Diary Room in secret. They got bigger each time, from small enough to fit in a chest of drawers, to a man dressed in a gnome costume! Highlights include Tom saying one of the toy gnomes was nearly as big as him and Rebecca’s surprised reaction when she saw the man in the gnome costume for the first time!

The Life In The Fast Lane task was the best though. All of it was used quite well, and it was the most entertaining week.

Tom revealed in his finalist interview that he had to leave house to have a brain scan and had tonsilitis and almost quit as a result. This was all edited out, even any reference to it! Fair enough, I suppose they might want to keep housemates health issues confidential, but I’m sure they didn’t use to edit it all out completely.

Rylan celebrated 300 Big Brother’s Bit On The Side appearances, with video tributes including Channel 4 host Davina McCall and BB9’s Lisa after surgery wrapped up like an Egyptian mummy.

Much as I like Emma Willis, I do wonder if she is erm, losing interest in this gig. She made a couple of memorable slips ups. She nearly said “Celebrity Big Brother housemates…” on Rebecca’s eviction night. Then on the final she called Andrew “Tom” at the end of his interview, before going to announce who had finished in 4th place, which was, surprise, surprise, Tom!

The ratings for this series were very low, and much was said of how badly it was doing against Love Island. BB18 got beaten in the ratings by Love Island‘s spin-off show Aftersun at one point! That said, it probably didn’t help that BB18 was shifted around in the schedule for things like a repeat of the rebooted Blind Date and The Best Of Bad TV. In the last two weeks the highlights shows at 10.30pm, except on Sunday when it was on at 8pm!

Starting with vote to save for the first three weeks then going back to vote to evict didn’t exactly show great planning either. I prefer vote to save myself, but either way you should probably pick one and stick with it. There were far too many backdoor evictions and the result not being revealed for nearly a day. It came off as a combination of desperate for an increase in viewing figures and an acceptance that there is so little interest in Big Brother these days they can do it and don’t have to worry too much about any leaks.

They began working on getting the house ready for Celebrity Big Brother even while the BB18 housemates were still living in the house!

Overall, I thought BB18 was OK to be honest. It started off being a carwreck, but it improved as it went along, I don’t think any series has ever consistently improved as it went along as much as this one. It started getting better with the new housemates generally. Perhaps all the new ones, minus Savannah, should have gone in the original cast, certainly instead of people like Lotan and Kayleigh. It ended up with a great final and one of the best winners! But the real problem with this series is the distinct and very strong impression that neither Endemol nor Channel 5 give a toss about the civilian version of Big Brother these days.

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