Sunday, January 3

Review - Celebrity Big Brother

The end is nigh for the voyeur's programme which suffered the indignity of not being watched, says Mark Lewis

And so the beginning of the end of the show that uncovered a semi-retarded chubby bird who called a tedious Indian girl a “Popadom or Boubadoop” and died. What will we do without the water by the chat machine, the shameful midnight epiphanies watching stupid people sleep on E4, and the moments of national catharsis when Britain collectively gets together and says fuck you John McCririck? And fuck your Diet Coke.

The Celebrity Big Brother (Sunday, C4, 9pm) opening show lost no time in reminding us why it will be the first programme of the last series. Big Brother’s defining characteristic as it lapsed into insignificance in the latter half of the decade, was not how desperate the contestants were becoming, but how desperate the show was. It was, we were told all those years ago, an important sociological experiment. Maybe it had been. Certainly, it was one of the defining television programmes of the Naughties; a founding father of the voyeur’s decade. Now it is reduced to hooking up a kitchen to look like “an autopsy room” and poking fun at Christianity.

Davina McCall, gurning as usual in front of a legion of baying morons, shouted about how this CBB was going to be more evil and invasive, how there would be even more cameras and how [gurn, laugh hysterically] the contestants would be woken up by the sound of a shrieking clown. So desperate to shock has Big Brother become that she could have said there was going to be an in-bog, shit-cam to see which of the celebrities had the most unbleached arsehole, and nobody would have been surprised.

As it was, the ten no-marks, half-marks and question-marks were paraded in front of the baying morons and cheered or booed like circus freaks. “Welcome to the new BB house,” said Davina. “It’s been given a makeover to make sure the celebrities have one hell of a time.

“Hell is a real place,” replied first contestant, Stephen Baldwin, who we now know is the co-host of an evangelical Christianity radio show, and crazier than the crazy character he played in The Usual Suspects “I plan on being a representation of the light of truth.”. From then we were invited to laugh again and again at how funny religion is. "I wonder what our born again Baldwin is doing," she gurned at one point.

“But what,” she asked introducing the next contestant, “would an evangelical Christian make of a naked page 3 model?” I don’t know Davina. What would a cat make of a mouse? What would a Millwall fan make of a West Ham fan? What would Mullah Omar make of Arial Sharon if he’d just drawn a picture of the prophet Mohammed on the Turin Shroud?

In its desperation to poke fun and set up conflict, the Big Brother producers have forgotten the humanity which gave the show at times its Shakespearean pathos and joy. The unrequited love story between Anthony and Craig did not happen because the contestants were made to go without food for a few hours. Shilpa bullies, Danielle Lloyd and Jo, the hideous one out of S Club 7, did not get voted out because their fags were taken away. And Nick did not smuggle in a pencil because of sleep deprivation. These things did not happen because of the producers’ manipulation. They happened despite it.

Who’s in and the televisionreview odds.

Stephen Baldwin – creepy religious loony (cheered). 15-1

Nicola T – unspeakably awful tit-statue (booed) 20-1

Alex Reid –Jordan squeeze who tried to aggressively push the sliding doors into the house (booed) 200-1

Stephanie Beacham – desperate to be recognised former Dynasty bitch (cheered) 12-1

Lady Sovereign but most people call her Sov – rapping adolescent (confused silence) 6-1

Cisqo – thong obsessed formerly famous R&B songster (sang decade old hit and was cheered) 4-1

Dane Bowers – former Jordan boyfriend and Alex Reid New Year’s Eve punch bag (cheered) 7-1

Heidi Fleiss – former Hollywood madam and cosmetic surgery warning poster (booed) 12-1

Jonas Altberg AKA Basshunter - Swedish Tourette’s sufferer and terrible pun man (half-heartedly cheered as they tried to remember if they’d heard that song he did) 8-1

Katia Ivanova – 20-year old artist and model. Definitely not famous for having relationship with geriatric Ronnie Wood (booed) 250-1

Vinny Jones – Vinny Jones (cheered) 3-1

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