A-listers stay away as sheen comes off Big Brother's return on Channel 5

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Sally Bercow likes being on TV. She knows it will upset the establishment, which is a big plus

The rumour mill spiralled into meltdown as the relaunch of Celebrity Big Brother approached: the troubled Hollywood star Charlie Sheen had been spotted at Heathrow and was surely heading for the Elstree house.

But when the contestants were finally unveiled, it appeared that Richard Desmond's chequebook had failed to lure the A-listers that the Channel 5 owner promised would drive 20 million viewers to the reality show's new home. After a day of high intrigue, with lawyers at Channel 5 HQ said to be poring over contractual demands and at least one late withdrawal, believed to be R&B star Bobby Brown, viewers were instead presented with Bobby Sabel. Bobby who? Sabel, it transpired, is a fashion model, who has graced Esquire magazine and appeared in "a number of high-profile advertising campaigns" including those for Cast Iron Denim and Sony.

Sabel was joined in the house by Lucien Laviscount, a teen actor said to have "boy-band appeal". He enjoyed a year on Coronation Street before graduating to the BBC school-set soap Waterloo Road. There was no Sarah Ferguson, said to be the subject of a £1m offer to take part. Instead we have Darryn Lyons, a mohican-wearing Australian paparazzo. And there are the usual stars fallen on hard times – Kerry Katona and Amy Childs, a product of The Only Way Is Essex, who has defected to CBB after being made an offer she couldn't refuse.

Sally Bercow, the wife of the Commons Speaker, John, is joining the housemates – against her husband's wishes. She has retained the services of the PR guru Max Clifford, who said: "Sally likes being on TV and she knows it will upset the establishment, which is a big plus. John didn't want her to do it. He hates the show. He thinks it's dreadful. But she didn't want him to be a Tory MP."

Accused by Tory MPs of using the Speaker's office to benefit financially, Bercow is being paid £150,000 for the show but will give £100,000 to the charity Ambitious about Autism. Her eldest child, Oliver, is autistic. She will keep £40,000, with Clifford's fee accounting for the rest. Mr Bercow has gone to India, where he "hopes to be as far away from it as possible".

Mrs Bercow, a failed Westminster Council Labour candidate, hopes to forge a new television career with Simon Cowell. "Simon will be meeting with her," said Mr Clifford, who represents both figures. "She says what she thinks and he identifies with that. There are projects they can work together on." Mr Clifford believes the Big Brother audience will respond to Mrs Bercow. "She's going to be honest," he said. "She was an alcoholic and she's prepared to talk about that."

William Hill said it expected £5m to be staked on the three-week series and made Amy Childs the 7/2 favourite. A luxury house has been created and the producers hope to see as much naked flesh as possible. But the rumour mill continues to spin that Sheen and Pamela Anderson may yet pay a fleeting visit to the house.

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
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
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Data Analytics Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading organisation...

Accountant / Assistant Management Accountant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Insight Analyst Vacancy - Leading Marketing Agency

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency have won a fe...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices