Darnell nears the final straight

FRIENDS of Ipswich-born Big Brother rising star Darnell Swallow today told of their pride as he nears the shows final stages.

FRIENDS of Ipswich-born Big Brother rising star Darnell Swallow today told of their pride as he nears the shows final stages.

The 26-year-old songwriter is looking good in the latter stages of the ninth series of the cult reality show, scoring well with bookmakers in the business-end of the contest.

The singleton, who now lives in London after being deported from the US, is ranking highly with betting companies in the housemates likely to finish in the last four and which male housemates will be the last two blokes in the house.

He has been one of the most popular housemates from the beginning but has been displaying signs of paranoia of late, which has turned some viewers off and prompted chat on fan forums questioning his behaviour.

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But with the show moving past day 83, Darnell remains in a strong position and his childhood friend Leonie Kersey, an Ipswich-based karate instructor, said all his friends and family were immensely proud of his efforts.

Miss Kersey said: “He's starting to get a bit paranoid at the moment but I don't think people will hold that against him.

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“I think he's worried about what it's going to be like when he comes out and finds out if people like him or not.”

Miss Kersey, a mother-of-two who lives in Loganberry Road, Ipswich, said she had hoped to travel to the Channel 4 studios for the show's final in two weeks' time with her mother Tammy Kersey, of Romney Road, Ipswich.

However the former European karate champion has to travel to Sheffield for a karate competition so will not be able to greet Darnell when he leaves the house.

However despite their confidence about his popularity, Darnell's friends think housemate Mikey may pip him to the post.

Miss Kersey said: “Mikey has become such a character. It seems like he has come out of his shell.

“For Darnell to get to the final is an accomplishment. Even if he went into the final and was the first one to come out that's nothing to be ashamed of.”

Darnell was kicked out of the US after he was convicted of drugs offences and arrived back in UK just before Christmas 2006. The US revoked his green card when he broke his probation and he has been making a life for himself in the UK ever since.

He travelled back to Ipswich, where his US-based mother Bernadette Mathis lived before moving across the Atlantic and where his dad Tony Swallow still lives, to be reunited with friends and relatives.

What do you think of Darnell's performance? Did you know him as a child when he lived in Ipswich? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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