Gorgeous George and football's Faria talk love ... of Islam

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The Independent Online

You can take your pick already of weird scenes on Celebrity Big Brother. We've had Pete Burns, the cross-dressing, surgically enhanced rock singer in the gorilla-skin throw, trying to insert his lunch through collagened lips while singing "Doe, a deer, a female deer" from The Sound of Music.

And the pronunciation by Chantelle, the non-celebrity, of the vegetarian food Quorn ("Kwowon") and - surely the first literary discussion on Big Brother - the chat about the novels of Jonathan Coe from the young pop star Samuel Preston.

But the cynosure of the live action, the bit you couldn't take your eyes off, was George Galloway's party political appeal to the voters of Bethnal Green and Bow.

It was an unusual broadcast in that their MP was in a pool, naked except for a voluminous pair of black trunks, and controversial in that he was not alone; his companion was a white rubber duck with a spotty purple undercarriage. Facially the dead spit of Arthur Lowe in Dad's Army (minus the glasses), he was deep in conversation with Faria Alam, the former model and Football Association horizontale, who stayed on dry land throughout, but shared with him a determination to talk up the splendour, appeal and polymorphous loveliness of Islam.

"The younger generation," said George, "are much more religious than their parents, when it comes to visiting the mosque. An element of Tower Hamlets youth were in danger of being lost to drink and drugs, but ..." Whether the rehabilitation of Asian youth was all George's doing hung in the air. But not for long

Apropos of nothing, he asked Faria if she knew how many Kashmiri taxi drivers operated in New York. She was privy to no such data. "I've done a lot of work on Kashmir," he told her airily, "and in the 1990s I was quite prominent on the issue. Cab drivers in New York used to do double-takes."

Good old George, you see, friend to the oppressed and deracinated. We also heard about his familiarity with Bangladeshi geography and his knowledge of Indian feudal lords. Why, you might imagine he was airing this learning to impress his Asian constituents. Equally, he might have been planning to part Ms Alam from her foundation garments. Only time would tell.

Elsewhere, a battle of the glamour models raged, as the UK's Jodie Marsh strove with the US's Traci Bingham to attract the attention of Dennis Rodman, a vast basketball player, 9ft 6in tall, with biceps like gammon joints and the élan of a whale.

Traci tried hard: "Would you light my cigar for me, Dennis?" A 24-carat ditz, she spoke in a Beverly Hills patois of "Oh-my-Gahds" and "totallys". Jodie wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the word "Football" (he's a basketballer, dear) and did a lot of squirming on her front and giggling. Dennis lay back on the sofa with folded arms and grunted.

Back in the pool, George was acquainting Faria with his Respect platform. "That's why we shouldn't have the death penalty," he ended one lecturette. "We might get it wrong. Only God can judge."

Sensing Faria's attention slipping, he returned to religion. She got angry, she said, when people thought female circumcision was something to do with Islam. George heartily concurred. "Islam is, in fact, a very peaceful religion," he said. Faria looked pleased. "All Islam makes sense," said George, "if you read the Koran the right way." She beamed. (George was definitely in with a chance now.) "It's all about health," she breathed, "a clear mind and a clean body ... The cleanliness of the ablutions."

George looked down at his hairy breasts, his hands wrinkling in the water. You could see his thought processes take a sudden lurch forward. My God, he'd practically become Islamic, just talking about it.