Frankie Dettori rises above the Celebrity Big Brother butterflies

View From The Sofa: Celebrity Big Brother, Channel 5

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The Independent Culture

If you don't know German, you'd be forgiven for thinking "schmetterling" is a perfect word to describe a typical Celebrity Big Brother contestant. A non-entity that just schmetters through the house mumbling monosyllabic inanities and being generally annoying.

The actual meaning of the word will be divulged below. But suffice to say, Frankie Dettori couldn't be described as a CBB schmetterling. He is yet to schmetter – apart from the fact he is the only one in the house who is actually famous.

Dettori is the one contestant in the house who the producers can assume is known by more than a specific section of the population. Let's face it, he is to horse racing what David Beckham is to football: even your gran who doesn't even bet on the Grand National would know who Frankie Dettori is.

It would be easy to say Dettori, who is up for eviction already, is hitting a spot pretty close to rock-bottom by appearing on CBB. Apart from his six-month ban from racing for a failed drug test, he was by no means certain of a regular ride this year anyway, following his split from Godolphin.

His decision to enter the CBB house – apart from a healthy pay day – is easily interpreted as a last hurrah, a final metaphorical leap off a televisual winning horse. The day he walked into the house he was advised by none other than John McCririck not to venture inside. And if you need pointers on how to survive a reality show from McCririck, who made a right schmetterling of himself in the 2005 edition of CBB, then you are in trouble.

But Dettori appears to be making the best of it – and he actually seems a nice person, albeit one bemused by the stunningly facile conversation among his cohorts, especially "Speidi" the collective name for Spencer and Heidi, who apparently became famous for appearing on The Hills, a reality show that wasn't even that real.

Dettori barely featured in Saturday's highlights show – most probably because he had little to offer to the lengthy lecture X Factor flop Rylan gave about the "fact" that human semen can burrow into the eyeball if it happens to fall in that area.

He did admit to being a "game-player", by choosing the interminably annoying Speidi to leave the dungeon – as they can "mess s*** up upstairs". He had earlier turned the conversation away from Rylan's announcement by joining in a gossip session about the two Americans. Cunning. Not to mention funny.

Dettori nodded knowingly as news filtered out that Speidi had been married, been divorced and got hitched yet again, as well as being voted Most Annoying People Ever in a poll in America. He then smiled when Rylan expressed, in short words, disbelief that Speidi could be famous for merely being on a reality TV show.

But Dettori's popularity went against him when, at the end of Saturday night's show, he found himself up for eviction. His opponents' excuse? Because he is so popular with the public that he would survive. Such sharp reasoning from the rest of the house.

Speaking of in-depth intellectual discourse, have you heard about the hypothetical discussion among four linguists – Italian, French, English and German – on the merits of their respective words for "butterfly"?

The Englishman said to the Frenchman that he loved the poetic beauty of papillon.

The Frenchman responded by saying no, the Italian word farfalla is far more lilting and weightless.

The Englishman and Frenchman both nod when the Italian admits to liking "butterfly", for its combination of richness and airy allure.

The German then storms off, barking: "There is nothing wrong with schmetterling!"

But as we have seen on Channel Five, there is. Oh man, there is. And Dettori most probably knows it as well.