Unlikely heroine triumphs in a human petri dish

Last Night: Big Brother C4
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The Independent Online

In the end the bookies called Big Brother right. Earlier in the day a Ladbroke's spokesman, with the sense of perspective for which bookie's runners are noted, said that it would be "one of the biggest shocks in television history" if Nadia Almada - now officially Britain's most famous transsexual - failed to win the fifth series. In the event the O.J. verdict and the moment that the second plane hit the World Trade centre held on to their unchallenged status as moments of communal astonishment.

Despite a surprising surge in support for Jason Cowan (whose only previous claim to fame was the title of "Best Buttocks, South Lanarkshire"), Nadia's support held and she took the £63,500 that remained on offer for the winner with a conclusive 74 per cent of the vote. She greeted the announcement of her victory with a shriek that suggested she had just gone into the final stages of labour.

Shell - the one like Phoebe from friends - had been the first of the remaining four to leave, her vanilla niceness enough to keep her in the house till the final night but not enough to generate a lot of telephone voting. Shortly afterwards she was followed by Dan, a self-appointed conciliation force and a contestant who had always insisted that he didn't want to win. He got his wish, leaving just Jason and Nadia to wait for the final verdict - not the house's most volatile combination (they hadn't actually had to be separated by security men at any point) but not exactly one of its love matches either.

It was a twist that will have suited the producers. The fifth series of Channel Four's human petri dish had been pitched to the public as Evil Big Brother - a reference to the ingenious malice with which psychological pressure was piled on the inmates. It turned out to be not particularly evil for Channel Four's ad sales department. Just over 7 million viewers tuned in to watch the summary eviction of Stuart Wilson earlier this week, triggering frantic media negotiations for exclusive accounts of his sub-table gropings with Michelle Bass. But it was the most ill-tempered series so far - marked by two punitive expulsions and repeated angry confrontations.

And though there was nothing to match the sheer nastiness of Jade Goody's tabloid demonisation in an earlier series - the final night proved distinctly uncomfortable for at least one contestant. Jason Cowan - who had earlier accepted an award as the series' vainest competitor - exited to raucous booing. "Mate - it's just panto" muttered Davina McCall - but even if that's true it can't be easy to discover that you've been nominated as Demon King in your absence.

Convinced that his survival to the final two was the result of his overpowering physical attraction ("Kids are off to school - four hours voting for Jason" he theorised smugly, when asked to speculate on the reasons for his success) Cowan emerged to find the crowd noisily immune to his charms - and was discomfited enough to refuse to look at the video-montages of his time inside the house.

If he exemplified the mob's lack of benevolence, Nadia's win was construed as evidence of its broadmindedness. A Portuguese transsexual who had not shared the details with her fellow housemates, she openly confessed several times that she craved "acceptance" and seemed to feel that the temporary affections of television viewers had finally delivered it.

Not so evil after all then - though it may not be a charity she should rely on too heavily.

THE WINNER

Nadia Almada

Age: 27; From: Surrey (originally from Portugal); Days lasted: 70 Winner. On why she kept her transexuality secret: "It was very hard because there were times I had to lie. There were moments when I felt I would come clean and be honest"

THE LOSERS

Kitten Pinder

Age: 24

From: Brighton

Days lasted: 7

Sent packing for disobedience. "I don't like rules. I want to make my own mind up."

Victor Ebuwa

Age: 23

From: London

Days lasted: 56

On snogging Nadia: "It's like sticking boobs on Antonio Banderas. She wasn't attractive."

Emma Greenwood

Age: 20

From: Oldham

Days lasted: 22

Why Big Brother? "Because I'm bored shitless with my life"

Michelle Bass

Age: 23

From: Newcastle

Days lasted: 64

Reaction to being labelled a bunny boiler: "I know I'm not a bunny boiler."

Vanessa Nimmo

Age: 26

From: Leeds

Days lasted: 28

Most embarrassing moment: "Squeezing spots"

Stuart Wilson

Age: 20

From: Macclesfield

Days lasted: 68

On his eviction: "To go on Day 69 is cool ... that's a nice one to go on"

Marco Sabba

Age: 21

From: Middlesex

Days lasted: 35

Called himself biggest bitch on the planet. Jason agreed, shouting: "I'll knock you out"

Shell Jubin

Age: 21

From: Glasgow

Days lasted: 70

Her biggest fear was "people seeing my breasts". Once inside, she happily stripped.

Becki Seddiki

Age: 34

From: London

Entered: Day 31; Evicted: Day 43.

Left after sucking Michelle and Nadia's breasts

Dan Bryan

Age: 30

From: Hull

Days lasted: 70

Gay hairdresser claimed only to sleep with straight men. "Straight guys always flirt with me."

Ahmed Aghil

Age: 44

From: Liverpool

Days lasted: 49

Why did he take olive oil with him? "That was extra virgin olive oil. You can imagine the rest."

Jason Cowan

Age: 30

From: Glasgow

Runner-up

On spending four hours daily on beauty routine: "There was nothing else to do, Davina"

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