Going, going, gone: Greer takes reality check and walks out on 'Big Brother'

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The Independent Online

She famously waxed lyrical on the "voyeurs" foolish enough to get drawn into the squalid world of reality television.

She famously waxed lyrical on the "voyeurs" foolish enough to get drawn into the squalid world of reality television.

The fact that Germaine Greer went on to take centre stage in a reality television show failed to temper the critical tone of her comments. But it appears that Greer, the feminist writer, critic and academic, has learnt the hard way that there may have been some truth in her original musings.

Yesterday, her diatribe against reality television came back to haunt her as she walked out of the Celebrity Big Brother house after enduring only six days in residence. And despite admitting to feeling embarrassed, annoyed and "an extent of humiliation", she wasted no time in launching a harsh critique of the "shambles" of a show.

Comparing its techniques to the regime of a fascist prison, she condemned the show's apparent encouragement of "bullying" housemates.

Eyebrows were raised when Greer appeared alongside staple reality television characters such as Caprice Bourret, the model, Brigitte Nielsen, the actress, the boy band member Kenzie, and the horseracing pundit, John McCririck.

Yesterday, Greer was in no doubt that the whole charade was little more than a "mistake" that was likely to haunt her long after the end of the show. Announcing her decision to leave, she said: "I was a little naïve. I didn't realise agendas. Caprice is here to raise awareness of her lingerie. Brigitte is a professional reality TV person. Kenzie wants to raise the profile of his band. John probably needs the money."

She added: "I had no idea who would be in here and it's wrong for me to present myself in the same context as they are. I'm 65 and you can't teach an old dog new tricks. I don't need the money badly enough, the rainforest will be fine - I'll save it in other ways."

There was no denying that Greer had apparently been fully versed in the codes of behaviour of reality television. Three years ago, she wrote: "Watching Big Brother is about as dignified as looking through the keyhole in your teenage child's bedroom door. To do so occasionally would be shameful; to get hooked on it is downright depraved."

The involvement of the author of The Female Eunuch , a former Professor of English at Warwick University, launched a flood of criticism from other feminists and critics. But she was strongly backed by Janet Street-Porter, a columnist with The Independent , who recently appeared on another reality TV show: I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! and who said Greer was striking another blow for feisty middle-aged women.

Despite her reputation as a serious academic, Greer has always had a more outrageous side. In the past she has posed naked and written extensively about sex; she warned the programme beforehand that she preferred not to wear any underwear and tried to persuade all the contestants to stage a naked protest.

Her decision to leave came after six days of unremarkable conversations among housemates with the occasional indignant outburst at the self-styled chauvinist McCririck.

While her arrival and departure were in keeping with her unpredictable persona, it was clear that she had reached the limit of her tolerance levels.

Speaking later in an interview with the spin-off show Big Brother's Little Brother , she said: "I feel a bit upset about it, I would rather have stuck it out and got evicted in due course," she said. "The thing that's important to me is that I manage to keep my sanity."

But it emerged last night that Greer had left a positive mark on the most unexpected of housemates. McCririck, who originally clashed with Greer, said he had "never changed my mind about someone so much. She's been fantastic, absolutely incredible".


* "I am 65 years old and supposed to be a pensioner. I've got to strike a blow for the old ladies."

* "It's going to be so hard for me to remember that I'm supposed to have my bits covered."

* "There's a revolution going on. I will give you Big Brother's balls for breakfast."

* "Why don't we take off our clothes and sit here naked?"

* To Caprice: "Is there anyone you don't think is lovely?"

* On John McCririck: "He is constantly clamouring for attention, and that, in a grown man, is sad."

* "Every now and then you hear a car horn outside and you realise there are people out there getting on with their lives, making love."

* Defending Caprice to McCririck: "For f***s sake John, leave the woman alone. You know sweet f**k all about her."

* On McCririck's underpants: "They've got a funny knit-thing happening ... If you had to have not-sexy underpants, you'd choose these."