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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
    Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

    The dark side of Mexico

    A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

    Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935