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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month

Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
books...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower