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Yup. We’ve watched it so you don’t have to.

The most hotly anticipated series of Celebrity Big Brother since the last one has started, this time on an outdoor set which starkly, and slightly worryingly, recalls the red-light district of downtown Bangkok. We opened as the camera performed an acrobatic set of swoops and swirls against a remix of the Big Brother theme, now so redolent of 90s rave music that I half expected the camera to pan out to reveal an audience off their tits on E with glowsticks in the air and yellow smiley faces stitched to their jeans.

A pair of cheekbones suddenly filled my screen, followed, after a while, by the rest of Emma Willis. I like Emma. She’s an engaging screen presence and a talented presenter. She has lovely skin. But those cheekbones are insane. They should have their own Twitter account. They certainly need their own insurance policy, like Cyd Charisse’s legs. 

Cyd Charisse. Why not?

Cheekbones took us on a guided tour of the house. Nice enough if a bit gaudy, but this isn’t an adaptation of Crime and Punishment, so we can handle that. What I found difficult to cope with was the diary room chair. It looks like a giant space vulva. It disturbs me, and I don’t even have to sit in it. 

Frenzied speculation mounted as the build-up to the launch progressed. Millions of Brits, old and young, gay and straight, fat and thin, stayed glued to Twitter as rumours emerged of a mystery housemate. Caitlyn Jenner was spotted at Heathrow, while at least one tabloid started banging on about Meghan Markle’s sister.  

But no! Not even the most die-hard of Big Brother fans could have anticipated the famous name with which Channel 5 was going to spoil us. Jenner – STAND DOWN! Sister of Meghan – BACK OFF! A nation held its breath before Cheekbones gave us the big reveal…Hardeep Singh Kohli. 

Who says there isn’t a God? 

Just in case you didn’t know, Hardeep is a Scottish comedian, chef and presenter, and was shown the door marked Do One by The Man at The One Show for inappropriate behind the scenes shenanigans back in 2009. Hardeep wore a kilt and a pink turban, not a combo you see every day of the week outside the camp Scottish Sikh community, so fair play. 

Hardeep. Nice turban. Nice beard.

So, what of the other prisoners? What did we learn? Here’s a quick run through. 

Kirstie – first to enter the house – wondered aloud what she had signed up for. If you don’t know Kirstie, you need a new agent, while Ryan – nice lad – didn’t say or do anything of which I have the merest recollection. I’ve checked my notes. I’ve written Ryan, followed by a smiley face.  

Jermaine glowed with pride as Cheekbones informed us that he had been the first Premier League footballer to take to the field wearing a tag (there’s one for the grandchildren), before his glow turned to something of a leer when he met former kidnappee Chloe.  

Ah, Rodrigo, the human Ken doll. I’m guessing that Rodrigo is Hispanic, so why does he sound Chinese?  Rodrigo told us that he’s had 62 bouts of plastic surgery and then surprised us all by announcing “I wasn’t born this way.” You don’t say. Rodrigo has also had four ribs removed because he wants to look better in a blazer. Bloody hell. In my day people just got a new tailor. 

Dan came across as not unpleasant (apparently he’s been at the centre of a media storm which must have passed me by) which is more than I can say for Ben who, with a reputation as something of a ladykiller, has a strangely high-pitched laugh. He makes Julian Clary sound like Brian Blessed. I like Dan better than I thought I would but I don’t mind admitting I’ve taken against Ben.  

Gabby – lovely Gabby – so northern and Scarlett Johanssonly. What’s not to like? I only wish she’d remembered her t-shirt. I mean, it was a perfectly decent bra and all, but time and place Gabby, time and place. 

Roxanne – lovely Roxanne – so northern yet not at all Scarlett Johanssonly. Cheekbones informed the feverish audience that Roxanne doesn’t eat fish because she believes in mermaids. I don’t mind admitting that I’m finding it hard to get my head around that one. 

Gabby. Is she showing her bra again?

Sally, the psychic, informed us that she’d be happy to give any of the housemates a psychic reading “if they’ve got enough money”, which went some way to confirming my opinion of people who claim to be psychic, and I have nothing to say at all about Nick. 

Finally, Natalie. I don’t know much about her, but I liked her outfit – tiara at the top, feathers at the bottom – and, given the sad passing of Aretha Franklin – I appreciated the choice of walk-on music – R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Let’s hope she lives up to it. 

The show was left with a gaping hole – Stormy Daniels. It’s reported that she pulled out minutes before launch although we’re unclear about her reasons. Probably something to do with money, but we don’t know for sure so couldn’t say. (OutNews lawyers: “that’s just about ok, but leave it there please.”) 

So, no Stormy, but nonetheless a good mix of characters and a promising start. We’ll be tuning in on a semi-regular basis, so check back for more updates when you’ve nothing better to do.

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Rob Harkavy

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