Grace Dent on TV: Celebrity Big Brother, Channel 5
Their names are Razor, Rylan, Speidi and the Toadjerk. And they are famous. Well, y'know, sort of
In a January mind fug, I got myself involved with Celebrity Big Brother. It was my own fault. I'm the mistress of my own misfortune. I was hypnotised by the very awfulness of Channel 5's Eddie Stobart: Trucks & Trailers, a reality show where the jeopardy comes from dilemmas like will nice man called Keith be able to stop on the hard shoulder for his egg butties for the full hour or just a half?
After the success of Channel 5's US import Ice Road Truckers where 300lb bears of men wrestle juggernauts across Alaska's far north, what could be more terrifying than whether Ashley from Stobart's can get his consignment of Birds Eye Potato Waffles 35 miles up the M6 to reach Blackpool ASDA or not. And then Celebrity Big Brother drifted on with Rylan (think Katie Price meets Frankie Howerd). Rylan is Britain's current hottest reality show property, last spotted on X Factor, before that on Signed by Katie Price).
Having never been rid of a reality TV crew now for around 24 months, Rylan's grip on the real world wavers. "I am not playing up to the cameras," he wept. In a wholly televised existence, the self-belief he is being "real" is a comfort he clings to. Rylan is my type of friend. He is kind-hearted, pithy, gay as the hills (I'm not sure where these gay hills are people speak of but they sounds a laugh). Rylan is forthright, lovable and not remotely stupid; in fact, he should be presenting the main Big Brother show. Neil "Razor" Ruddock and Frankie Dettori adore him.
Not so much love, on the other hand, for Spencer and Heidi – international panto-baddies from America's brain-melting, highly watchable dross, The Hills. Heidi and Spencer or "Speidi" have been part of the reality circuit, as a couple, for almost a decade. The process has left them behaviourally weird, locked in a dysfunctional "us versus the world" mindset, and also, a pair of "how to be the stars of a reality show" veterans. This merely makes them more employable. They hate reality TV, they love reality TV, they can never leave, we can never stop watching them. "But I'm not watching them," you might, at this point, be sneering. Oh, you'll be back.
Speidi are scared of the bacteria in the house, on people's fingers, on the plates and the work surfaces. They never lift a finger to clean, but abhor dirt. Heidi is highly jealous of anyone making a move on her gorgeous husband, who in reality is a scary-eyed man-baby with the world's biggest collection of mountain-climbing fleeces. Heidi's main annoyance is Page 3 girl Lacey Banghard (her real name, apparently) who is the perfect living embodiment of the glamour-girl stereotype. Tiny, squeaky, titty, daft as a brush, harmless and wholly forgettable. It must be peculiar to get the call to do CBB and think, "Oh I'm the tits, this year"; but then, I don't think Lacey thinks, although she does look lovely in pictures with her tits falling out of a bra sitting backwards on a chair.
Claire from Steps has spent a fortnight weeping in a cheap towelling dressing gown smeared in foundation and foodstuffs. Claire is a rhapsody of misery, riled by any mention of Steps, dancing, the lyrics or titles of her hits, any mention of her various media-sponsored weight-loss projects and even by people exercising. Claire nominated Toadfish from Neighbours last week for his crime of doing sit-ups within her vantage point, which "brought back so many bad memories". What a complete bastard. Fellas, eh? Why can't they just understand? Speidi hate "Toadjerk" or "Toadman" as they call him, as he quite rightfully identified them as "a bit weird". Speidi heard this as they were spying on him from a hidden bedsit in the basement, listening on headphones, before being placed back in the house for a square-off against everyone.
Last time Big Brother tried this stunt with any vigour, during BB5, it resulted with an enormous physical fight, the police being called, the show being taken off air and Channel 4 being in a lot of lumber. This time, it resulted in Razor Ruddock getting two official warnings for suddenly turning on the abhorrent Spencer and informing him, "If you wanna get nasty, I could be the horriblist c**t to you in the world." "Let's get security in here!" cried Heidi.
Soon, Spencer and Heidi were in the diary room running rings around production staff, mentioning lawyers, their vast feelings of unsafety and how their need for protection. By night time, they were back in their cosy bedset – away from the hubbub – with a bottle of wine and a buffet. Speidi won't stay until the end, but they've lived every day in their plywood prison in Borehamwood like winners.
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