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

A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Legal Recruitment Consultant

Highly Competitive Salary + Commission: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL BASED - DEALING ...

Digital Project Manager / Web Project Manager

£45-50k (DOE) + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced ...

Account Manager

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Account Manager to join ...

Social Advertising Manager / Social Media Manager

£Excellent + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Social Advertising Manager / Social Med...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home