Matt Butler: Big Bad Ron Atkinson sneaks back as a cuddly old granddad on Celebrity Big Brother

View From The Sofa: There’s no getting away from the fact that a racist remark ended his career

Big Ron Atkinson’s redemption has started. And he has the possibility of a new career path: as Santa Claus. So says Charlotte Crosby from Geordie Shore, who is appearing on Celebrity Big Brother with the former manager and pundit, who has barely been seen on TV since his infamous comment about Marcel Desailly – you know the one – in 2004. “He is a lovely old man,” Crosby said. “He reminds me of Santa, he’s so jolly. I have a real bond with him.”

Atkinson had won his new housemate’s heart because he spent the first couple of days in the Celebrity Big Brother house doing what much of the audience at home had done: asking who the hell everyone is.

It gained him brownie points – sorry Ron – with some of the universally self-obsessed contestants, mainly because he was the only one to express any interest in anything but himself.

He wasn’t the smoothest talker, but then again we knew that. “Tell me about your show, love,” he said to Danielle, a woman whose claim to fame appeared to be marrying a 50-year-old man when she was 16.

He added to Crosby: “So when is your next, um, whatsit, series or whatever, on then?” Once she told him there was one currently running, he asked her whether it was boring doing the same, vacuous things for a TV show every day. It was an interesting question, if not all that self-aware, given their location, but it was a rare moment when the conversation went beyond small talk.

He even smiled when Louis Spence, whose “camp man” shtick was beyond annoying, flounced up and kissed him on each cheek, but that may have been because he had softened the blow by shoving a bottle of champagne in his hand first.

Seconds later, Atkinson was up for eviction. He greeted the news as you suspected he reacted when ITV told him he was persona non grata, by sitting perfectly still with a half smile, champagne glass in hand, staring poignantly into the distance. He later added: “I have come to the conclusion that this is not my scene.” He was probably right. Crosby, who at 22 was probably too young to remember the furore over Atkinson’s demise as a pundit, was so distraught that she inadvertently invented a double entendre.“I am so pissed off, I have just punched a cake,” she shrieked. Spence reacted with mock shock, until he realised she had actually punched a cake.

Mario, a fellow constructed reality show star who stretched the meaning of “celebrity” to breaking point, added: “The public has a misconception of him because of one mistake he made. Once people see what he is like, they will love him. If I wanted another granddad, I would want it to be Ron.”

Others were not convinced. Jason Roberts, the Reading striker, tweeted as soon as Atkinson appeared on the opening show: “Well.... Ummmm...., But.... Eeerrgghhh....  Hmmmm.... OK!!!!!!!! Well... time to turn over...... BB is DEAD to me.”

Some would say that Roberts was about five years too late in announcing the show’s demise, but we got his sentiment. There was something not quite right about Atkinson’s face being on TV again, because no matter that it was nine years ago, there was no getting away from the fact Atkinson’s career ended because of a racist remark.

There was a nice symmetry, however, that on his reappearance, his every utterance was being broadcast, whether he liked it or not.

And who knows, if he carries on as he has done in Big Brother, his road back from televisual death may have begun. And if it doesn’t work out, he could always don a beard and fill in as a Father Christmas this December.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments