Grace Dent: I foolishly thought I could just watch ten minutes of Big Brother – now I’m back in the habit

 

Like most recovering addicts I’m pious but easily swayed. I quit watching Big Brother some years ago, cold turkey, just after the C4 Big Brother “Funeral”.

Davina in mourning garb, full New Orleans death-pomp, mega-montages, tearful ex-housemates and “end of an era” weeping. Wonderful TV, but a complete farce as Big Brother was already en route to Channel 5, where a trashier, cheap-as-chips-looking version appeared.

Where once BB tasks would involve hidden houses and ornate themes, last week’s Celebrity Big Brother high-jinx came from a little-known tabloid girl, Rhian Sugden, being made to stand on a box then guess whether her housemates had voted her “most glamorous”. (They hadn’t. Rhian was sad. Rhian was gunged using one of those “cheap chairs beneath a large clear tube of neon green gunk” arrangements which the studio designers on Noel’s House Party found a bit passé in 1986).

Whereas once I’d argue with cab drivers that Big Brother was an interesting anthropological experiment, at Channel 5 the show is the televisual equivalent of sipping a glass of Lambrini sat in a cloudy primordial-stew post-party jacuzzi eating a kebab and Levonelle breakfast. People who watch a lot of Channel 5 dream one day of understanding those lofty ITV1 Dramas like Wild at Heart where Stephen Tompkinson “catch um lion gud”.

So yes, I don’t watch Big Brother anymore (except sometimes I do, secretly) and will flutter my jowls into a dismissive sneer at viewers who do in 2012 as I’m a bigger person (which I’m not, I’ve been watching Celebrity BB for the last fortnight).

My downfall was the cast-list including Julian Clary, whom I’ve adored since his Friday Night Live appearances in the mid-1980s with Fanny The Wonder Dog and C4’s Sticky Moments with Hugh Jelly. Clary is an achingly British entity, he’s warm yet guarded, twinkly while dry and prickly and all in the space of one flowing sentence spilling from a lightly lipsticked gob with a puckered eyebrow to mark the full stop.

His autobiography, A Young Man’s Passage, which covers his childhood up to “the Norman Lamont incident” is excellent. Alongside Clary, Julie Goodyear, Bet Lynch from Corrie, a formidable fortress of a woman who, in character, taught a million northern women in the 1970s and 1980s how to exist, channelling gnarly strength, the beauty in being a battleaxe. Goodyear, now installed in the compound house as matriarch, is pure joy.

Martin Kemp from Spandau Ballet I’ve been infatuated with since I was nine, dream-cheating on him with John Taylor from Duran Duran occasionally and sometimes Adam Ant. A task this week asked the house if he was alpha male. He is. They voted “no”, which left Harvey from So Solid (yes, he still exists) flexing his abs. I didn’t say this was Question Time. You’re probably screaming, “oh these pointless people!”, but you’ve not even met “The Situation” yet. Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino from MTV reality show Jersey Shore, whose nickname refers to his rock-hard abs which are ‘The Situation’.

Mike’s pointlessness is so profound and mighty it is virtually performance art. He has been shorthand for a punch line in TV land for two years. Since arriving in the house he’s fallen in deep love with Danica.

Danica isn’t famous at all, she was a story line in a C4 documentary called Sex, Lies & Rinsing Guys, about women manipulating people on the internet to buy them things. Danica is very angry about the title of the show as it misrepresented her as some type of person who manipulates people to buy her things. Danica is  a bit like a Vileda Supermop with credit card terminals for hands. By now you’re possibly getting  furious at this column and saying, “WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?”, but their tenuous claims, their egos and utter lack of self-awareness will keep you coming back for more.

The trick is to never switch Big Brother on. I did for 10 minutes a fortnight ago. I don’t watch it you see. It’s completely beneath me. So I idly wander to Channel 5 and “The Situation”, who is camper than Clary and sprayed so orange he sometimes resembles the devil, is comforting Danica who is outraged that people could believe that asking people to buy her things with the unsaid but implicated (and unfulfilled) promise of sex would make her a hooker.

The stages of re-addiction are this. “Oh who are these idiots?” And then, “I pity viewers who still like this”. And then, “how can Danica and ‘The Situation’ BE so deluded?” And then, more thoughtfully: “No she really thinks this. Hang on, she’s flirting with him now, isn’t she supposed to like Prince Lorenzo? Oh good, there’s another 15 minutes left. Gosh I wonder what Martin Kemp has got to say about this.” And bam! You’re back. May as well watch to the end now.

Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in again.

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?