Tuesday 16 January 2018

Last night’s TV: Celebrity Big Brother

After a weekend watching CBB, Diarmuid Dyole reckons for the first time in their career, Jedward are in danger of becoming boring ..

Whether he’ll actually win is a different matter altogether, but after less than four days it’s clear who has become the big star of this years’ Celebrity Big Brother.

Paddy Doherty, best known for My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, was involved in most of the memorable moments over the weekend, discussing sexual politics with Sally Bercow, the wife of the speaker of the House Of Commons, pretending to be Britney Spears as he climbed into the bed of one of the Jedwards, having a chat with his wife in the Diary Room on the occasion of their 34th wedding anniversary.

He’s enjoying himself. “Roseanne, I never seen better craic in my life”, he told his wife. “These lads you told me about [Jedward]. They’re the best laugh. They’re the best craic you’ve ever seen in your life. They’re two walking sticks but they’re the nicest young fellows you’ve ever seen in your life”.

Whether he’ll still feel like that in three weeks’ time is another question. Jedward are still the overwhelming favourites to win, due to their popularity outside the house, but inside, they’re starting to lose their lustre.

They’re exhausting to watch; they must be impossible to live with. They’re always switched on, forever on the move, roaming the house like fun-seeking predators, looking for an excuse to dance, sing, throw oranges.

Already, a kind of mother/son relationship has developed between them and Kerry Katona. Yesterday, she sent them to their room for being bold. When Kerry Katona’s the responsible one, you know the world has turned on its head.

It’ll be interesting to keep an eye on Jedward for the duration of the contest. We’re used to them in small doses, in carefully structured situations which are over before their manic energy gets too tiring.

For the first time in their careers, they run the risk of becoming boring. Their fans mightn’t agree, but there is such a thing as too much Jedward. For that reason, you wouldn’t bet your entire savings on them to win. But it’s theirs to lose.

Despite the enjoyment of watching Paddy Doherty, who steals every scene he’s in, Celebrity Big Brother has been a bit dull so far. It’s on Channel 5 for the first time and after a big start on Thursday night when more than 5 million viewers tuned in (the channel’s biggest ever audience outside of a football match or a movie), it’s all gone a bit flat.

About two million viewers have deserted already, and it’s hard to blame them. All the celebrities seem very nice, pleasant, mostly well-balanced people. There are no plotters, backstabbers or divas, nobody resembling a hate figure against whom we could all unite.

The nearest we came to a row was when Tara Reid, star of the American Pie movies, got a little annoyed with Pamela Bach Hasselhoff, ex-wife of David, for cleaning up too prematurely after dinner. It was all very polite, not the kind of thing that makes the newspapers and attracts viewers.

So far the newspapers have been most focused on Sally Bercow, one of the three celebrities up for eviction on Friday night. The others are Kerry Katona and Bobby Sabel, a male model who has made so little impact so far that if he leaves on Friday, it will be first time many viewers will have registered his presence.

Over the weekend, some papers made hay from the possibility that the Bercows’ marriage was on the verge of collapse because of Sally’s participation in Big Brother and some of her “antics” in the house. So far those antics have consisted of one conversation in which she admitted to using her “feminine wiles” to persuade her husband that she should take part.

He’s disappeared off to India, apparently, so he won’t have seen his wife come across as one of the more interesting and attractive celebrities in the show, far from the deranged vixen of tabloid imagination.

Nobody else has really stood out. There’s a kind of a budding romance between Lucien Laviscount, an actor best known to Irish viewers for his appearances in Coronation Street, and Amy Childs, star of ITV2 reality show called The Only Way Is Essex.

Amy made famous the vajazzle (a kind of beauty treatment on what a shocked Bach Hasselhoff called “women’s privates”) and has brought her vajazzling kit into the house. So far she’s offered to vajazzle Bercow, who declined on the basis that her sex life was “spicy enough”. Most likely, she’d figured out what the papers would make of that.

Other housemates include the paparazzo, Darryn Lyons, who seems to have pulled off the difficult trick of having a six-pack and a beer belly at the same time, and whose first contribution to the programme was to suggest that someone ask Jedward whether they’re “metrosexual, heterosexual or bisexual”. So far, though, nobody’s asked, least of all Lyons.

There was a slight frisson of excitement on Saturday when Mohamed Al-Fayed made a brief appearance in the house to set a task for the celebrities.

As he blames the paparazzi, amongst others, for the death of his son Dodi and of Princess Diana, would he confront Lyons, give him a piece of his increasingly addled mind? No such luck, sadly.

There are still almost three weeks to go, so there’s plenty of time for some genuine controversy. But Big Brother needs to be more interventionist, and more imaginative when he does get involved. The tasks the housemates have been given so far – dressing in sheets, or as Egyptians – are more suitable for girl guides than a reality show that needs high drama to keep it going.

Some of the quieter characters – Sabel, Bach Hasselhoff – need to be encouraged out of their shells. Too few celebrities are providing the funny moments.

That’s why Paddy Doherty gets my vote so far. He’s up for what he calls the “craic” and as the housemate with the most self-confidence, doesn’t really care what people – inside or outside the house – think of him.

Yesterday, pretending to be Britney Spears, he did a kind of striptease and asked one of the Grimes twins what he would do if Britney “turned up and said: ‘Hey, I’ll make a man of you’. Would you let her service you?”

“What are you on about”, the twin replied. “I’m not a pinball machine”. A surreal moment in a bland, though occasionally enjoyable, weekend. Let’s hope it gets a bit better.

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