First Night: Celebrity Big Brother, Channel 4

The cream of the Z-list grasps chance to revive careers

At the start of last night's show, Davina McCall announced the significant numbers: "Six celebrities, 10 days, no adoring fans," she said in ominous tones – as if being deprived of constant adoration was going to be an unaccustomed hardship for the poor gladiators about to enter the Big Brother house.

Perhaps she's right, and Les Dennis and Sue Perkins have to fight their way through autograph hunters every time they venture out to buy a loaf of sliced white from the corner shop. But Graham Norton seemed nearer the mark when, during commercial breaks, he trailed appearances on his chat show by Rosanna Arquette and Rod Stewart with the promise of "actual celebrities".

Perkins is the dark-haired one in the comedy duo Mel and Sue. Dennis is a comedian, game show host and, as the jargon has it, "much-loved family entertainer" – though in recent years, he has been better known as the put-upon husband of the comic actress Amanda Holden; given the degree of press intrusion their marriage has suffered, he may have felt that a stay in the Big Brother would give him a little extra privacy. Then again, he may have thought it would give his career a little boost and turn him into a household name, just as the previous series did for that woman, Claire something, nice girl, the one off the soap.

Joining them in the house are the former drum 'n' bass star Goldie; the former newsreader and chat show host Anne Diamond; the former Take That singer Mark Owen; and the former (do you notice a pattern here?) Page Three girl Melinda Messenger. Ms Messenger is soon to be, Davina informed us, a philosophy student. Even now, she will be explaining to her housemates the central tenet of Berkeleian idealism, esse est percipi – "To exist is to be perceived": presumably the publicity junkies know where Bishop Berkeley was coming from.

A less cynical view might be they are all there to help charity; though you would have to be very uncynical not to detect some irony in the choice of charities being aided. Centrepoint, a charity for people who can't get into a house, is getting money from a programme that won't let people out of a house; The Samaritans, a charity for people who need someone to listen, is being aided by a programme all about eavesdropping on people 24 hours a day.

"Does life get any better than this?" Davina screeched. God, I hope so.

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