Celebrity Big Brother 22

Celebrity Big Brother 22 might be the last celebrity edition ever. And it was certainly an eventful one!

This year they swapped the civilian and celebrity editions around, with the celebrity version starting in August. This was partly down to their fear of a ratings thrashing from being against reality TV flavour-of-the-month Love Island.

The cast for CBB22 were: American actress Kirstie Alley, famous for playing Rebecca in Cheers and being in Look Who’s Talking. Ryan Thomas, best known for playing
Jason Grimshaw in Coronation Street. Emmerdale actress and singer Roxanne Pallet. Footballer Jermaine Pennant. Model Chloe Ayling, who went through an abduction ordeal. Dan Osborne who was in The Only Way Is Essex, Gabby Allen who was in a series of Love Island (not this year’s). Then there was comedian and chef Hardeep Singh Kohli, ‘psychic’ Sally Morgan, Rodrigo Alves, better known as “the Human Ken Doll”.

Natalie Nunn, a US reality TV star who was in Bad Girls Club. Not to be confused, as a few media outlets did, with the British ITV female prison soap Bad Girls. Still, while she might not have had much of a profile in this country before, she made an impression on launch night. She is certainly very beautiful, and was the most dressed up to the nines, wearing a silver crown and a dress with white feathers.

There was also Nick Leeson, whose dodgy, fraudulent stock market trading ultimately led to the collapse of Barings Bank and him being sent to prison. The biggest barrel scraper was Ben Jardine. He doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page! He was in something called Married At First Sight, where people had to marry a complete stranger. Unsurprisingly, none of the marriages lasted.

This CBB series was subtitled Eye Of The Storm. The theme was that all the contestants had a “media storm” of some sort, but really it was named after adult film star Stormy Daniels. There has been a lot of attention on her as she is part of one of the more high-profile of the many, many, many current Trump scandals. (A couple of those scandals even crossed over with each other while this series was on!). However, she dropped out at the last minute. This meant that launch night had the effect of wallpapering over a partially collapsed wall of a house which had been hit by a hurricane.

Big Brother’s Bit On The Side presenter Rylan Clark-Neal said that “no housemate is bigger than the show”, which is fair enough, but perhaps they should have thought about that BEFORE basing this entire series on a particular housemate going in. You have to wonder how much of the series budget they blew on that elaborate White House set too.

I suspect that Stormy was supposed to be the President in the first week task. It did seem a bit random that Kirstie was automatically given the role of President, even she wondered why. But the viewers got to elect the Vice President using the Big Brother app, and they chose Ryan.

Regardless of how she got it, Kirstie played her role as Madam President well enough. We also got Roxanne doing a ridiculous belty diva version of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’, shades of Michelle Bass’ Beyonce-esque take on ‘Pie Jesus’ in Big Brother 5. It also reminded me of Bleeding Gums Murphy’s extra long drawn-out soulful rendition of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ which only Lisa was able to stand up all the way through on The Simpsons.

Other than that though, this task was rather dismal. The housemates had to build a Lego-like wall to stop people dressed up as world leaders getting “Green Cards”. I agreed with Natalie that it was all a bit tasteless, and that Trump “wall” references in general are overdone. Luckily, like all Big Brother themes, it was over after a week.

Natalie Nunn made the biggest impact in the first week, but she ended up as the first housemate to be evicted. What probably did it for her was when she started a row WHILE NOMINATIONS WERE TAKING PLACE! I mean, if there’s ever a time to make yourself inconspicuous on Big Brother, it’s then!

But let’s face it, can you really blame the housemates for nominating her or the viewers for voting her out? She was loud, obnoxious and exhausting. She kept SCREAMING and YELLING and SHOUTING, going on and on and on. She complained about the other housemates not saying anything, but in fairness how could they say anything, with Natalie around nobody else could get a word in edgeways.

She kept having a go at Hardeep for being the kitchen all the time, and frankly it just came across as an excuse for her to shout at him rather than a reason. There was also the incident with Chloe leaving a wet towel on a chair, with Natalie launching a tirade at Chloe over it, then going back to a tearful Chloe to yell at her some more.

Natalie slagged off Chloe for not being a celebrity. This coming from Natalie, who had to include having slanging matches on Twitter as part of her reason for being cast in the first place. Chloe didn’t say much, as usual with Natalie it was a one-sided argument, but I think Chloe was spot on when she said that Natalie just starts fights for the airtime. I suppose manufacturing arguments is just what Natalie does in her US reality TV shows.

When she was evicted, Natalie refused a hug from fellow nominee Hardeep and left to silence from the other housemates, and her eviction outfit and her walk to the door
had a feeling of an overthrown queen on her way to her public execution. While Natalie was undeniably one of the biggest personalities of this series and among the better housemates, I can’t say I was too gutted about her leaving, to be honest. She was already becoming repetitive, and there’s no worse CBB series than one where all the screentime is given to a loud, annoying, artificial villain. If anything, all the drama that followed in CBB22 shows that it’s a load of nonsense that a series “needs” that kind of housemate to be kept in.

Rodrigo Alves got off to a terrible start, managing to say the N-word twice on Day 1 and receiving a formal warning for it. He also had a terrible end, as by Day 10 he was removed from the house altogether under mysterious circumstances, with lots of rumours flying around and the show refusing to say what specifically he did or said to get himself removed.

Besides that, his only significant contribution to the “plot” of the series was a task where he had to spill some cereal on a duvet to get some dirty laundry/gossip for Wendy the Washing Machine. The gossip was that Chloe and Jermaine had been passing messages to each other, using Chloe’s make-up pads, eyeliner pencil and compact mirror. This rule break meant the whole house was on basic rations whether they passed that week’s shopping task or not.

Chloe told the whole house about the messages, thinking everyone knew. Jermaine told other housemates he had a girlfriend, and told Chloe that it was already over. But in fact neither was completely true, as he is married! He started claiming, over and over again, that him and Chloe was “just banter”, and he and the other LADZ started slagging her off behind her back. Before Chloe was evicted, he told her to “play it down”, and after Chloe was evicted he put back on the wedding ring he’d taken off on launch night! Chloe didn’t realise he was married until she was shown a clip during her eviction interview! What a great catch Jermaine is, eh? And this is how he carries on in a house full of cameras! Makes you wonder how he acts when there are no cameras.

Chloe Ayling was only nominated for not cleaning up after herself, she was up in a head to head against Hardeep, there was a short voting time and highlights shows were all about the fallout from her and Jermaine, so she was a bit unlucky really. Or perhaps she had a lucky escape to be out before it could continue. The crowd cheered her when she left the house, so that’s something I guess.

As a side note, I liked host Emma Willis calling the Chloe vs. Hardeep eviction “The Pin-Up versus the Stand-Up.”

But even the Chloe/Jermaine situation was nothing compared to what became the big controversy of the series, involving Roxanne Pallet.

Ryan had been playfighting and shadowboxing with other housemates and one time he did it with Roxanne. On the footage of what happened it looked like he barely touched her at all, but Roxanne claimed she got hurt. Even so, she laughed about it at the time. A bit later, though, she asked Big Brother to call her to the Diary Room, where she said that Ryan hurt her, and she felt uncomfortable sleeping in the same room. (She was not so traumatised by it to not be worried about the next round of nominations, though!) She was allowed to sleep in a spare bedroom away from the main one, and Ryan was called in and given a formal warning.

But this wasn’t enough for Roxanne. She constantly demanded that Ryan should be removed, saying he had “assaulted” her and that he hit her repeatedly in the ribs, and she began crying to everyone and saying she “knows” Ryan intended to hurt her. She tried to turn other people in the house against Ryan, accused him of lying and, according to Ben after he saw the clip of what happened, massively exaggerated to him when she told him about it.

It all felt a bit odd really. Roxanne had been an attention seeker throughout in various ways, usually singing and dancing for the cameras, but it was also how incredibly whiney she could be, and trying to make everything about her. This incident seemed like something else though. At best, she was making a mountain out of a molehill. At worst, she was being manipulative and vindictive.

Ryan, understandably, was upset and anxious about what he was being accused of, as an allegation like that would cause serious damage to his reputation, and might have ruined him altogether. He was panicking and in tears as a result of it. You have to wonder what might have happened if it hadn’t been caught on camera and people wouldn’t have been able to see that it was not what Roxanne was making it out to be.

Obviously, the whole thing was a topic within the house, with the housemates generally coming to the conclusion (with a bit of help from Big Brother) that if it was as bad as Roxanne was saying, then Ryan would have been removed.

There was an eviction that night, and the crowd loudly chanted “Get Roxy out!”, which pretty much confirmed things for the housemates, and was also what Ryan needed to
hear, as he was worried about how it would be perceived on the outside. Roxanne I suppose knew that she would be out to a booing crowd in the next eviction, and walked
out the same night.

It transpired that Roxanne and Ryan knew each other before the show, Roxanne had gone out with Ryan’s best friend. Whether this had something to do with it all, who knows. A lot of Roxanne’s former co-stars came out to say she’s done similar things in the past. Then she ended up losing work. It couldn’t have backfired any more spectacularly on Roxanne, really.

All of this overshadowed the eviction somewhat. And it was actually a good twist for once! The viewers had to vote for their favourite housemate via the app or the official website, and the two with the fewest votes would be chosen by the housemates to go. In effect, it was a reverse of the normal process, as this time the viewers nominated, and the housemates decided who would go.

The two least popular housemates were Ben and Jermaine, and when the housemates decided it came to a tie, but then they were asked again to come to a majority vote, and Ben was chosen to go.

Ben Jardine‘s main storyline was his crush on Roxanne. In spite of him having the lamest claim to fame of the cast, he turned out to be an OK housemate I suppose, he
was amusingly goofy. He was, like Chloe, a bit unlucky to be evicted, as had it been on public votes alone it would have been Jermaine, but also like Chloe, perhaps Ben had a lucky escape to have a disaster-waiting-to-happen showmance cut short.

The next eviction was a surprise eviction, which meant the crowd had to keep quiet and was sprung on the housemates while they were having a party. It worked pretty well, as the housemates weren’t expecting it!

The evictee was Jermaine Pennant. Other than what happened with Chloe, Jermaine was an incredibly boring, pointless housemate really. He didn’t have much to say for himself in his eviction interview, other than the word “banter” about a billion times. I have to admit I did laugh at his reaction to hearing that Roxanne had stolen his hate figure thunder. (It was “Cheers, Rox”). But let’s be honest, he’s an arsehole.

Roxanne had an interview in this episode too, a very awkward, pre-recorded one. Credit to Emma Willis on both interviews though, she asked tough questions while still being professional.

Hardeep Singh Kohli survived every single eviction, but fell at the final hurdle. I think he was right when he said earlier that he was probably never massively popular, he was just disliked less than the people who were up against him. Despite being a comedian, he… wasn’t very funny. His comedy seemed to be mainly puns. “Hardeep Is Your Love” was said a lot. He also did that old “parrots-eat-’em-all” one too. The comedy highlight involving him was accidental. One of the sort of comedy moments you rarely get outside of Big Brother, Hardeep entered a room with a tense, awkward atmosphere to tell people that it’s cottage pie for dinner tonight! That crossed over with his other profession. Like many chefs who’ve gone on Big Brother he got the role of house cook.

I had a mixed opinion of Hardeep. He is very intelligent and he was a good addition to the series, commenting on society. However, he could be incredibly pompous and pretentious, and slightly creepy at times. He had a streak of passive-aggressive martyrdom to him as well, and I think he saw the other housemates as being a bit beneath him. He deserved a place in the final though.

Which is more than can be said for Gabby Allen, who did make the final. She finished in 6th place, which in Big Brother is the usual position for radar dodgers who only escaped eviction because either the housemates or the viewers had bigger fish to fry. Gabby mainly just moaned and whined lot. Her most entertaining moment was when she was dancing with some bog roll, which says it all really.

5th place was Sally Morgan. For her all her claims of psychic ability, she predicted that Natalie would come 3rd, Hardeep would be the first evictee, she failed a Deal Or No Deal style task to find letters from home, and finally she predicted that she herself would come 3rd. But she is very sharp I suppose. However,  she is also absolutely brimming with venom and spite, none more obvious than with the fact she spent basically the whole series being Hardeep’s archnemesis.

Nick Leeson finished 4th. He had an interesting backstory, but once that was gone he was that Big Brother type of a grumpy, middle-aged man who just sits on a chair looking like he hates every minute of the whole thing. That said, he is definitely one of the better examples of that type of housemate.

Dan Osborne was 3rd. As far as I know, he isn’t a werewolf, unlike the Buffy The Vampire Slayer character of the same name. (You know, Seth Green’s character, Oz!).
At one of the house parties, Dan stripped off and covered himself with baby oil for Kirstie. It was very hot, and was my highlight regarding Dan this series. That might be shallow, but come on, Dan doesn’t really have much else to offer, does he? He’s a bit dumb, and very arrogant.

Runner-up Kirstie Alley was very down-to-earth even though she was the biggest name in the cast. She has had an interesting life so had a lot of stories to tell. She talked a lot about Hollywood, how she used to be a drug addict, that she considered an affair with Patrick Swayze while they were in North and South, which was before either Dirty Dancing or Cheers.

She casually mentioned she has pet lemurs!

In CBB22 she mainly had the role of “culture-shocked foreigner”, learning about things like Christmas pantomimes from the British housemates. There were also discussions which showed the difference with British English and American English, like simply what “biscuits” are. In the UK, “biscuits” means what Americans call cookies, but in the US “biscuits” are more like what we’d call dumplings.

The show gave her tasks of having to pronounce British place names, and making a perfect cup of tea. She had to finish the sentence “Easy peasy…”, and she came up with “…pickles and pears!” for some reason.

She made attempts at an English accent, with the other housemates getting her to say “I love a good cup of Yorkshire tea” and “I can’t recall the last time I had a bloody good shag”, and “Ey up!”.

When the winner was announced, Kirstie kissed Ryan on the lips, and walked out carrying her high heels in her hands!

While I do find her being a Trump supporter a little offputting, I think you can like someone as a person even if you don’t agree with their political views, and in this series it was slim pickings for a favourite. Just in the house, Kirstie seemed very lovely and funny. She was my launch night favourite, and she remained my favourite throughout.

The winner, Ryan Thomas was a likeable, Northern lad. He’s very “what you see is what you get”, which I suppose is part of his charm. There has been a lot said that he won because of the Roxanne incident, and I think that will have inevitably come into it, but he won the first public vote via the app on launch night against all the other housemates except Kirstie, and at the end of the series it was revealed that both Emma and Rylan predicted that he’d be the winner on launch night. I think Ryan was always a likely winner. He’s a type that tends to be popular with viewers and even if he wasn’t technically the biggest star, I’d say he was the most well-known to the voting audience.

Regarding the tasks, I really liked the pets task. It was fun. Some of the housemates had to dress up as pets and act like them. Dan was a chiwauah, Gabby was a poodle, Sally was a cat, Jermaine was a parrot, and Nick was a tortoise.

The Big Brother caught in a loop one was pretty good, a Groundhog Day sort of thing where the day kept repeating and they had to do all the tasks again, most notably
Ryan and Dan having to get into a bath filled with ice cubes 3 times!

There was The Public Eye, a giant eyeball with arms and legs, and a hidden camera.

I was pleased that the “mean tweets” task – something which has been terribly overused in recent series – turned out to be fake, as the tweets were all written by Kirstie. She made sure to give some of the harshest comments about herself so that the other housemates wouldn’t guess!

The search engine task, which included that ’90s dial up modem sound, which will be recognised by anyone who used the internet in the ’90s.

The last task saw the housemates go into a pub set to act out a Cheers-like sitcom, with the Cheers theme tune playing and Kirstie as the landlady. The end result looked more like EastEnders than Cheers, though. There was also a pub quiz, football match-like commentry on the housemates and karaoke, but overall, this whole task felt a bit too much like BBOTS filler material really.

Celebrity Big Brother 22 turned out to be a great series, I think a lot better than anyone expected it to be! It got better after the obligatory pointless first week gimmick was over, and the fact that new storylines kept coming after every eviction I think showed that the producers shouldn’t try to make a series about the same housemate doing the same things over and over and over again. However, both CBB21 and CBB22 showed that themed casting can work well. But all that probably doesn’t matter now, as it may well be the last Celebrity Big Brother ever. The contract is up after this year, and, despite it being one of their biggest shows, Channel 5 controller Ben Frow tends to openly sneer at Big Brother any chance he gets. On one level, it’s good if Celebrity Big Brother goes out on a high, on another it’d be a shame to see it go, as this series showed there is still life in it.

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