It wouldn’t be New Year if we didn’t have another bunch of wannabes and neverwases entering the pre-fab mansion at Elstree for three weeks of tension, tasks and toilet talk. So here’s the lovely Emma Willis, dressed like she’s on her way to a Tarts and Vicars party for multiple personality sufferers, to introduce us to this season’s line up. After a quick walk-around the newly redecorated house (think Downton Abbey on an ASDA Living budget), we’re ready to meet the desperate dozen.
Housemate Number 1 - Jim Davidson
Disingenuously describing himself as an “extremely funny comedian,” the one-time Mr Saturday Night, now has all the appeal of a wet Tuesday morning. He moans about the public’s misperception of him as “that dirty, smutty, racist, sexist, homophobic bloke,” but he’s probably just annoyed that they usually miss out tax-dodging and wife-beating. The only man who could turn nine months of Yewtree investigations into a boast, he’s determined to get any arseholes in the house to admit to it. So it’s a good job the place is full of mirrors.
Housemate Number 2 - Linda Nolan
“You may recognise me from The Nolans,” says Linda, oblivious to the fact that this will be meaningless to anyone born in the last 30 years. So for the uninitiated, the Nolans are a curious Irish brood of middle-aged Furbies with neck scrag, who’ll take part in anything that involves a couple of cameras and an appearance fee. Linda’s VT involves lots of peremptory finger-wagging and declarations of disdain towards women who strip off to further their career. As a side note, we’re not reminded of Linda’s nickname of ‘The Naughty Nolan’ until she’s handcuffed to Jim Davidson and halfway up the stairs.
Housemate Number 3 - Dappy
It’s hard to know what to make of Dappy – he’s a jittery little thing who spends most of his time making unintelligible noises. Still, that doesn’t seem to have prevented him having a successful music career with his cousin Tulisa, as he explains “I been in a group called N-Dubz. We sold a hell of a load of albums.” He’s entering the house dressed head to toe in a vulgar Versace two-piece, which makes him look like the scatter cushions in a whorehouse. Emma challenges him up on his winning strategy, saying “Big words in that VT,” although technically, “bow bow bow” and “Ni ni ni ni” aren’t really words at all. He’s trying to make light of the fact that a horse famously kicked him in the face, but makes no mention of the fact that a hungry guinea pig seems to have styled his facial hair. Apparently, his friends call him ‘Tarzan’ because he’s a real survivalist, but within ten minutes he’s telling Linda Nolan that he’s bricking it. Move over Bear Grylls.
Housemate Number 4 - Liz Jones
Liz Jones is a fashion columnist for the Daily Mail, and thrives on dividing opinion. It’s true; some people flat-out hate her, and the rest kind of like hating her. She believes she’s less of a role model for women, more of a flashing warning sign. She’s certainly a cautionary tale about the dangers of cut-price plastic surgery; giving her the curious appearance of Rose Byrne screen-testing to replace Andy Serkis as Gollum. Having famously picked a fight with Rihanna in one of her columns, Liz seems nervous that the Barbadian beauty might be one of her housemates. With refreshing candour, Emma admits “It’s safe to say Rihanna isn’t in the house.” That’s because she actually has a job.
Housemate Number 5 - Sam Faiers
The Only Way Is Essex star Sam seems nice enough, if unlikely to be chased by Mensa for her subs. She reckons she’s a “typical Essex girl” who enjoys “dressing up, going out and partying with friends.” That’s not an Essex girl; that’s an eight year-old girl. Unfortunately, there’s little else to say about her, except that she seems to enjoy turning around to look at cameras. I don’t think she’ll be a controversial housemate – that’d be like trying to muster antipathy towards a barstool.
Housemate Number 6 - Jasmine Waltz
Jasmine is what used to be known as a MAW (Model/Actress/Whatever), although when she talks about “stirring up noise in Hollywood,” it soon becomes clear that another ‘W’ might be more apropos. One glance at her IMDB page tells you everything you need to know about her acting skills; instead her VT focuses on the fact that she seems to exist solely within the Daily Mail’s sidebar-of-shame. Aside from sleeping with the still-married David Arquette, Jasmine has also punched Lindsay Lohan. Marcus Bentley delights in telling us that she does all her own stunts, but I guess the same can now be said for Li-Lo.
Housemate Number 7 - Lee Ryan
Lee might never be known as a towering intellect, but he’s everyone’s favourite member of boyband Blue. He seems to think that people will be expecting him to be constantly spurting in the house, so let’s hope Liz Jones has thought to rinse out some jam jars. Stand down people – he was talking about verbal diarrhea which he always forgets to sieve before it comes out of his mouth. So congratulations to him for the most stomach churning mixed metaphor of the new year. Lee believes in aliens, and worries about orphaned badger children; he also describes himself as eccentric, despite being unsure of the word’s meaning.
Housemate Number 8 - Casey Batchelor
Casey calls herself a model, but if you only appear in things like Nuts and Zoo, you’re not actually a model; you’re a stripper who can’t dance. With nothing interesting to say, and no career accomplishment about which she can boast, Casey settles for turning up on the night, looking like Nicole Scherzinger and Kelly Brook both squeezed into a single pleather dress. As she enters the house attached to Lee Ryan, Marcus tells us that Casey dreams of setting up a lingerie company for girls with big boobs. To be honest, I’m not sure I see the point, if it’s just going to be tossed on the floor of a photographer’s draughty studio.
Housemate Number 9 - Ollie Locke
The adenoidal bisexual from Made In Chelsea, Ollie used to look a bit like one of Tolkien’s wood elves. Thankfully, he’s had his ridiculous locks cut short and he look much better for it. However, with his camp persona, orange skin and glowing white veneers, he’s really just Rylan with a better postcode. He sounds enormously excited, like he could pop out of his maître d’ outfit at any moment.
Housemate number 10 - Lionel Blair
Mr Showbiz himself, Lionel is something of a loose cannon – always on the verge of an impromptu tap-dance, like nitro-glycerin with jazz hands. He boasts “I’ve worked with so many icons within the business.” And Una Stubbs. There was a time where he was seldom off the telly: “Give Us A Clue ran for 12 years,” he says, reminding us that every episode felt like it. Looking a lot like the last withered citrus in a fruit bowl, he’s thrilled to be going into the Big Brother house, even though he has no idea who’s in there. To be honest, the audience is none the wiser, and we’ve seen the fuckers go in. “I’m 59 plus VAT,” he confesses, sending half the viewing audience onto the internet to see if the tax rates have suddenly been hiked by 200%.
Housemate Number 11 - Luisa Zissman
The runner up on this year’s Apprentice, Luisa claims to have the energy of Einstein, the sex appeal of the Energiser bunny, and the intellect of Jessica Rabbit. At least, I think that’s what she said, and I’m in no position to argue. Since her experiences with Lord Sugar, she seems to be carving out a niche as a sexually provocative business expert, like Sir John Harvey-Jones in a pair of crotchless knickers. Having moaned that she’s never won anything, Luisa enters the house proclaiming herself an “independent woman,” despite all evidence to the contrary.
Housemate Number 12 - Evander Holyfield
Our final housemate is former heavyweight champion of the world, Evander Holyfield. He might know how to throw a punch, but he’s no financial whiz. Despite making over $200 million in the ring, he was reduced to marketing his own grilling machine in the last few years. Big Brother might be promising to be tough on the contestants this year, but at least he’s considerate enough to handcuff Luisa to Evander’s right side. Tyson might be getting a thank-you note in a couple of weeks’ time.