First Night: Celebrity Big Brother, Channel 4

Who's in the house? That's a good question

Many people have trouble sticking to their New Year diets; but Channel 4's determination to shed weight seems to know no bounds. As Davina McCall (apparently, though I wouldn't have recognised her - what does she think she's doing scraping her hair back like that?) announced at the start, this year's Celebrity Big Brother is the longest yet: 25 days of television without substance or purpose.

Last year - Chinese Year of the Cat - saw Chantelle Houghton, a fake celebrity, emerge triumphant from the Big Brother house, a fully-fledged star. This year a rumour ran round that, in a spasm of post-post-modern irony, Jade Goody, made famous by reality television, was to enter the Big Brother house. This turned out to be untrue; but the casting of this year's series still inspires some thoughts on the nature of modern celebrity. Does Jermaine Jackson, the only male Jackson apart from Michael to have enjoyed solo success, count as a star in his own right, even though few of the other inmates had any idea who he was? Is his celebrity just a facet of his brother's notoriety? (In answer to a question from Davina, Jermaine said that Michael would probably be watching: "He has a way of seeing everything." Suspicions of divinity confirmed, then.)

Given the warmth of the crowd's reception for Jo O'Meara - the one in S Club with the big chin who could actually sing - why did her solo career crash, while her prettier, less talented colleague Rachel Stevens had a string of hits? Clearly, popularity and commercial success are only tangentially related. And why did H from Steps feel the need to "come out" in The Sun prior to the programme, when those of us who have followed his career thought he had come out some years ago?

The biggest star in the house is probably Shilpa Shetty, an ex-Bollywood megastar who, as she confessed in her pre-admission interview, expects to find life hard without an entourage; but her celebrity has no purchase in Britain; none of the other celebrities had the faintest idea who she was. Almost everybody, on the other hand, knew who Leo Sayer was.

Otherwise, we have Ken Russell, optimistically self-described as "the most famous English film-maker", and at 79 having trouble with the stairs; Danielle Lloyd, disgraced former Miss Great Britain and girlfriend of Teddy Sheringham, who is reported to believe that Winston Churchill was America's first black leader; Donny Tourette, lead singer of the band Towers of London, who listed among his pastimes spitting and "never lifting the seat", and whose leering, two-fingering procession into the house lifted him from near-anonymity to panto-villain status; Cleo Rocos, former sidekick to Kenny Everett; and Dirk Benedict, Face from The A-Team.

Finally, and most oddly, we have Carole Malone, a Sunday Mirror columnist, who has disapproved publicly and virulently of Big Brother. She said she could not resist being at the centre of a story "every journalist in the country" wants to write about. Every journalist? Some journalists were looking forward to spending an evening finishing a Joseph Conrad; instead, we get dispatched to the Heart of Darkness. The horror! The horror!

How many have you heard of?

Leo Sayer, 58, Singer from the late 70s who recently reappeared at number one Odds: 4-1

Dirk Benedict, 61, Starred as Templeton 'The Face' Peck in 'The A Team' two decades ago. Odds: 5-1

Ian 'H' Watkins, 30, Believes people see him as 'the blond knob from Steps'. No longer blond. Odds: 5-1

Jo O'Meara, 27, Former member of S Club 7, now turned to dog-breeding. Odds: 6-1

Shilpa Shetty, 31, Bollywood star who hopes every Indian will be proud to see her on 'Big Brother' Odds: 8-1

Donny Tourette, 25, Singer from punk band Towers of London entered the house to chants of 'Who are you?' Odds: 8-1

Danielle Lloyd, 23, Stripped of Miss England title because she dated competition judge Teddy Sheringham. Odds: 10-1

Ken Russell, 79, Film director entered house unsteadily, telling Davina McCall 'I don't want to go.' Odds: 10-1

Carole Malone, 47, 'Sunday Mirror' journalist who wrote that Big Brother contestants are 'a bunch of morons'. Odds 12-1

Cleo Rocos, 44, Writer and actress who played Miss Whiplash in 'The Kenny Everett Show' in the 1980s. Odds: 12-1

Jermaine Jackson, 52, Former member of Jackson 5 and staunch supporter of his brother. Odds: 14-1

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Marketing Account Manager / Client Liaison Manager

£25 - 32k DOE: Guru Careers: A digital-savvy Marketing Account Manager / Clien...

Business Development Manager / Sales Executive

£23-30k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking bright Business Developmen...

Senior Developer/Development Lead - C# ASP.NET. SQL

Circa £55,000: Ashdown Group: Lead Developer requirement - C#, ASP.NET, SQL - ...

DFA Ad Operations Manager

38,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: My client is an agency that handles the me...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain