Since making the move to Channel 5, Big Brother has now become such a staple in the schedules, that it's hard to pinpoint any time during the year when it's not actually on. Weirdly, it doesn't seem to matter to the powers that be that more people go into the house on launch night than actually watch the show. So here we are again, tuning in to see who's up for three weeks of torture on cheap furniture, before politely looking the other way for the rest of the run.
After an opening dance routine packed with all the glamour and sophistication of a Thursday evening PA in a regional nightclub, we're introduced to our first celebrity. It's Julie Goodyear, who politely informs us that she's "probably best known as Bet Lynch". Points go to anyone who can think of anything else she's ever done, besides keeping the manufacturers of cheap animal print in business. She admits that once Bet's hair went up in a beehive, the character became like a second skin. And tonight, it looks as though she's wearing both of them.
Cheryl Ferguson is in next. That's big Heather from EastEnders, who famously got taken out by a grumpy teenager with a picture frame. Look for a special edition of Cluedo, coming to a Toys R Us near you. With the best will in the world, she's never going to be a natural beauty, but it's nice to know that she left the nasty perm behind in Walford. She's come dressed in a floor-length shroud with a giant eye on it, making her look like the tower of Sauron in a school production of Lord of the Rings. Still, at least this is one time where two celebrity housemates have actually heard of each other. Julie laughs at Cheryl's joke about her shoes, and says "Don't make me wee." Somewhere, a TenaLady marketing assistant is thinking about sponsorship opportunities. They're both called to the diary room, where Big Brother gushes about having two such huge stars in the house. Probably unfortunate then, that this opening gambit came right after the two of them bickered over who had the fattest arse.
Still, at least this is one time where two celebrity housemates have actually heard of each other
This must be the big US celebrity that the producers have been gushing about. It's Mike 'The Situation' Sorentino from Jersey Shore. He tells us that his special qualities include green eyes and a six-pack, but watching his vacant expression whenever anyone talks to him, I'd speculate that he's described as 'special' more often than he'd like. When he lifts up his shirt (which he does with the frequency that most people respire), his famous abs look more like an undercooked rib-roast. It'll be interesting to see whether he answers to Mike or The. Oh, and if you thought he was stupid before, wait till you see him trying to follow Cheryl and Julie's acting challenge, egged on by Big Brother's ear-piece direction. Obviously, Brian thinks we're as stupid as our latest housemate, since he laboriously explains what we've just watched.
'Camp old turn and renowned homosexual' Julian Clary is the next housemate, so it'll be interesting to see what The will make of all the fisting jokes. Still, after a few years out of the limelight, it's nice that Julian can still get comic mileage out of the word 'sphincter'. Old jokes aside, he's already a dead cert to win, having greeted The Situation with, "Oh hello, and what's your function?" Unsurprisingly, the clueless American had to ask what that meant.
Since it wouldn't be fair to exclude the criminally under-represented breast-baring community, here's Rhian Sugden. She tells us that she's quite intelligent, but not very domesticated. Then puzzles over whether that's a real word. Consider my preconceptions promptly shattered. The Situation becomes so priapic, it looks as though he's actually sweating semen. When he asks Rhian what she does, she explains that she takes her top off for a living. Needless to say, he doesn't need the concept explaining. In fact, the hem of his own t-shirt is twitching as they speak.
The Situation becomes so priapic, it looks as though he's actually sweating semen
Harvey from So Solid wants us to believe that he's a musician, TV presenter and footballer. But most of his VT is about the semi-famous women he's fucked. In an attempt to change people's perception of him as a 'love-rat', he's come on in loafers and a cravat. Perhaps someone should tell him that Leslie Phillips and Hugh Hefner aren't the best fashion icons to follow, if you're wanting to convince people that you don't think with your cock. He says he's not looking for love in the house, but he's wary about people who are disloyal and two-faced. And so the nation's doctors begin administering their own medication.
Oh for fuck's sake. It's the queen of the trolls, Samantha Brick. She tells us that she's a journalist and a writer, clearly understanding that, in her case, they're two very different things. So is she the most beautiful woman we've ever seen? Not unless you could still knock one out over Esther Rantzen. As a TV executive, she worked with "global names, including the Duchess of York, Katie Price and David Beckham." Global, by way of the UK then.
They're really pushing the boat out now, as we get actual royalty. But don't get your hopes up - the Duke of Edinburgh's hospital dash today wasn't a cover story. Instead, we've got Prince Lorenzo from Italy. He's reasonably handsome, in that ten-a-penny-in-the-Holborn-Slug-And-Lettuce sort of way, and once appeared on The Bachelor in the US. So at least he's used to fame whores and show-mances. We're also treated to a lovely close-up on Julie copping an eye-full of the handsome prince, that made it look as though she was choking on a cocktail sausage.
Time to update the euphemism database, as Danica describes pimping herself out on Sex, Lies and Rinsing Guys as 'providing interactive services' in exchange for expensive gifts. Presumably it costs extra if they want to 'download' on her face. Meanwhile, Germaine Greer is sitting at home, eating a bag of pork scratchings and wondering why she ever bothered.
The Situation is in trouble now, as another six-pack is entering the house. It's Team GB extra-lightweight judo competitor Ashley McKenzie. There's not much to say about him, other than the fact that, if he hadn't been a sportsman, he could have filled the spare slot in any random boyband. At least he's self-aware enough to enter the house, explaining "You probably have no idea who I am." That doesn't just go for the housemates, Ashley.
Coleen Nolan is our next contestant, and is dreading being stuck in a house with people who are famous for kiss-and-tells. Hasn't she ever watched this before? It might be thirty years since they had a hit single, but the Nolans have become regular staples on national TV, between them covering virtually every reality format ever invented. With every passing year, they're all becoming increasingly interchangeable, since they all resemble Marie Osmond with cut-price Botox and a Supercuts hairdo.
She's the third generation in a family of models, so I'm wondering whether she's affected by the same inbred congenital deficiencies that tend to plague high pedigree dogs.
Our final female into the house is Jasmine Leonard, who describes herself as an "actress, slash model, slash professional bad girl", when "Janice Dickinson lookalike, slash drag queen" would be just as apt. She hints at a relationship that she had with "someone in the entertainment industry" but doesn't name any names. Perhaps there wasn't time to run through them all. As she comes out to a chorus of boos, we get a shot of her ridiculously skinny legs that seem too far apart, as if she's spent the last three days straddling a pommel horse. She's the third generation in a family of models, so I'm wondering whether she's affected by the same inbred congenital deficiencies that tend to plague high pedigree dogs.
Well, the rumours were true - Martin Kemp is our thirteenth and final housemate. Probably the only occupant who can convincingly use the phrase "people mightalso know me..." To be fair, he's done it all - popstar, actor, half of Pepsi and Shirlie. He must know that he's more famous than the rest of them put together, since he strolls into the house like the fashionably late guest of honour. Best of all, he's just in time for the showdown between Julie and Cheryl that will bring tonight's secret mission to a close. They've been briefed to have a screaming row and throw drinks at each other, but it lacks the necessary sparkle when the only beverage to hand is a tumbler of pineapple juice. Dynasty was never like this.
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