Grace Dent on TV: Big Brother – Secrets and Lies, Channel Five

Day 10 in the Big Brother house and it’s back to wry asides  and caustic bickering, thank God

A new series of Big Brother – the show that died on Channel 4 and was resurrected for Channel Five. At first I couldn’t stomach the regeneration with its Flo Rida-scored high-speed montage sections and pubescent squawking cast. Yet, in 2013, I feel that Channel Five has found its feet, removing much of the fluff, farting about, bells and whistles, and returning to that old-school, gently creeping format. I do not want comedy montages of the new cast – Sallie, Gina, Michael etc – star-jumping on their beds to “Live While We’re Young” by One Direction. We can watch pointless guff like that on Disney Channel. I want wry asides, caustic bickering and sideways glances, accompanied by Geordie Marcus’s voiceover, which takes my hand and pulls me from kitchen to garden to diary room. “Secrets and Lies” is the theme this summer, ironically, as by week nine most series of Big Brother have the feel of a Palm d’Or-contending Mike Leigh movie – broken characters staring into space, chugging on the dog-end of an Embassy Red, mulling which shape of Tesco Value pasta to have for dinner.

So with BB restored to some of its former glory, the question is, “are you in or out?”. “In” means a commitment to hours, days, weeks observing human beings like Dan the Operation Yewtree policeman, Wolfie (Rebel Wilson after five days at Glastonbury) or Dexter Koh, a obviously conflicted boy who once spent £121,000 on Champagne in Aura, Mayfair but has since grown ashamed of it.

“I’m Britain’s biggest sugar-daddy!” Dexter said in his introduction video, referring to the gangs of Mayfair nightclub lovelies he keeps afloat in shoes and diamonds. “Oh, so you sleep with prostitutes?” asks a housemate. “No I do not sleep with prostitutes,” he fumes. By episode four I rather liked him.

So yes, Big Brother: are you in? Will you be following this off-putting rabble who in time, as sure as eggs is eggs, will mellow and reduce into compelling living soap opera? Or are you out, rejecting Big Brother and planning instead to spend the summer months searching for its mention on internet TV sections before typing anonymous pithy remarks about how culturally superior you are from your lofty moral vantage point of “weary-making comment-box knob”? You decide.

On the basis of week one, I am passionately in. Big Brother’s first “Secret and Lies” sucker punch was the addition of housemate Michael, an affable, flush-cheeked, wholesome postman from Munster, Ireland. But Michael is actually an actor. He’s a mole – the People’s Puppet – quietly setting about sabotaging tasks and pouring oil on troubled waters. What should be a lesson in subterfuge and double-dealing has been, in truth, a rollercoaster ride featuring a man with only amateur acting skills, winging it, crapping himself and being sussed as a mole on the first night. Luckily for Michael his cover was blown by Sallie Axl, a “bisexual glamour model” who entered the house virtually nude aside from a beanie hat and some ice-wash denim dungaree shorts (no shirt, no bra), before spending the evening rabidly telling anyone who would listen how “real” she was. Real is a big obsession with Sallie. Perhaps she is often mistaken for a hologram or cyborg.

There is a performance-art aspect to the current crop of 20-something, Tumblr-style glamour girls who take all the basic tenets of Sam Fox’s glamour model (tits, white teeth, the classic thumb tugging one’s belt-loop, lip-licking pose) and mix them with a big scoop of Eighties Camden tourist-friendly punk (tattoos, requisite Sid Snot sneer) and a large ladle of naff Nineties Limp Bizkit fan.

Sallie’s skin is plastered with half thought-out tattoos commemorating events in her relatively short life. Sallie was the first person to remark that Michael was probably being controlled by Big Brother but everyone ignored her because she has yet to grasp the life lesson, “dress like a clown, get treated like one”. No woman has ever been taken remotely seriously in dungaree shorts with nipples out and bum-cheeks showing, a neon beanie hat, and smothered in a can of Ambre Solaire no-streaks bronze.

My favourite contestant right now is Sophie, cast as a sort of more erudite, wealthier Jade Goody, although I suspect when things settle she will be much more than this. Sophie is a dental nurse but hates working, her dad owns a scrap yard and she can drive a fork-lift truck. She is sweet, ballsy and likes to smooth over situations with empathy and kindness and by sticking the kettle on. Right now she is my spirit-animal within the house, the rough diamond trying to keep her head down. And that’s the best tactic for the first three weeks in Big Brother. Trust me – I don’t like to brag – but I’m an expert.

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Will there ever be a Friends reunion?
TV
News
Harry Hill plays the Professor in the show and hopes it will help boost interest in science among young people
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A Van Gogh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this month
art
Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
It would 'mean a great deal' to Angelina Jolie if she won the best director Oscar for Unbroken

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
books
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

music
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

music
Arts and Entertainment
Look out: Broad shoulders take Idris Elba’s DCI John Luther a long way
tvIdris Elba will appear in two special episodes for the BBC next year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
    There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

    In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

    The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

    It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
    The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

    Staying connected: The King's School

    The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
    Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

    Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

    Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

    The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
    Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

    When two worlds collide

    Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?