Unmissable: Why the Celebrity Big Brother house needs to be foreclosed

Ken Morley at the Celebrity Big Brother house. Pic: PA

Ken Morley at the Celebrity Big Brother house. Pic: PA - Credit: PA

You can have way too much of a good thing. You can also end up overindulging on a bad thing, whether you like it or not, Elliot Furniss.

Nine years ago the landmark fourth season of Celebrity Big Brother (you know, the one with George Galloway, Pete Burns, Michael Barrymore, Chantelle and Preston etc) was attracting huge viewing figures, generating countless front pages and proving to be one of the TV events of the year.

It was addictive and fascinating, with both bickering and bitching reaching new levels but also many hilarious moments.

The following year’s series was marred by claims of racism and the bullying of eventual winner Shilpa Shetty, as the platform reached a controversial peak of just under 5 million viewers.

After the fallout prompted a year off, the series returned with a solid but unspectacular sixth and seventh series in 2009 and 2010, before the format was picked up by Channel 5 and all hell broke loose.


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During Channel 4’s decade of broadcasting the Big Brother franchise, there were seven series of the celeb edition.

Since Channel 5 took the reins in 2011 we are on to the broadcaster’s eighth run. It’s been gorging on the dilapidated format and taking the calibre of contestants deeper into the doldrums. And is anyone still watching?

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Well, apparently an average of about 2.5million are tuning in, whether they’re being entertained or not is another thing altogether.

It’s partly down to Channel 5 getting generally smaller viewing figures than Channel 4, but it must reflect the quality of housemates.

Kavana, despite what my sister may insist, was never much of a pop star – yes, he had a recording contract and released singles, but he was never an actual star.

Chloe Goodman’s fame is based around the fact that she was on a MTV show as the ex-girlfriend of an ex-boyfriend of a member of the awful Geordie Shore gang – some claim! She is also a model and has been Cheryl Fernandez-Versini’s bottom double in one of her L’Oreal adverts.

Calum Best and Alicia Douvall are reality TV veterans (notable on the classic of the genre, Celebrity Love Island) who surely have nothing new to add to the proceedings; Cami-Li is best known for dating some berk from TOWIE; Nadia Sawalha was in EastEnders for two years, before the millennium; while Ken Morley actually left Corrie 20 years ago. TWENTY.

Cheggars, Alexander O’Neal and Patsy Kensit have had solid if unspectacular careers in their chosen fields and Perez Hilton is a star in his own right, mainly in the USA of course where celebrity is king.

I haven’t got anything nice to say about Katie Hopkins, so I shall say nothing at all.

Michelle Visage is an American personality, best known for being one of the judges on RuPaul’s Drag Race on Logo TV (eh?) while Jeremy Jackson’s supporting role on Baywatch ended 15 years ago and he’s had nothing but trouble since. That was one booking that was begging to go wrong from the start. I think many at CBB production HQ were surprised it all took three days to implode.

But is the removal of a celeb or two from the house a good thing for the producers? Do they see a racism controversy, sexism accusations or a caution for common assault as a victory, a target met? Are sensationalist headlines good headlines? Doesn’t it just make the whole brand, the channel itself and the people involved (both in front of and behind the cameras) look rather shabby?

The early seasons may have had combustible characters who were thrown together in challenging circumstances, with only the one major meltdown, but it’s only now that the headline-seeking is so blatant and of higher importance than the actual entertainment on offer. I’ve dipped in and out of this series and seen the more grotesque moments, but it all seems to reflect a shift in reality TV from its heyday.

Remember that first Big Brother? How there was genuine moral outrage both inside and out of the house about “nasty” Nick Bateman’s whispering of names to his fellow housemates and writing some down in chalk.

These days there’s less moral outrage, more gawping at a car crash going on, and on, and on...

Maybe it’s time to foreclose this particular house and let Big Brother grow up a bit, away from the public eye.

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