Big Brother

Friday, June 30, 2006 by

How many Big Brother housemates need not have bothered this week? Quite a few. Individuals were on their toes but barriers were starting to break down. It was quite, droll and largely affable in the house. Only two contestants could look upon the week as crucial – Aisleyne and Mikey.

We’ll come to the Scouse wag later.

Ultimately, Aisleyne’s attempt at cunning and cleverness backfired as she began the week thinking she’d carefully bridged the divide between the “adult” group (of which she’d been bosomed since arrival at the house 10 days in) and the “plastics”, as Canuck waiter Richard calls them. Result – popularity, safety and longevity. That was the plan. But too many people saw through it.

The faux-ghetto girl – complete with black expressions and a major R&B fanaticism – didn’t have the articulacy or the charisma to get everyone believing her. For every portcullis she dropped, another would be raising behind her, usually with a frown followed by a rush to a vacant room to gossip. Although Aisleyne had firm believers in the house from her arrival – Richard, maternally insecure Lea, the besotted Glyn – it was all too notable that they were flagging as she attempted to get girly with decorational Welsh nonentity Imogen, lark about with tantrum princess Nikki and – most crucially – flirt with Pete.

That lad with the Tourette’s, the trousers and the innocent chuckle remains the whole mainspring around which the relationships within the house are constructed or destroyed. And he’s baffled as to why. By the time this week was underway, he’d had it made clear to him that both Lea and Nikki were rather keen. Aisleyne tried to be more subtle in her approaches. Nikki got confused, Lea became alienated, and Pete took the flak for “changing”. For all Aisleyne’s efforts to mend broken bonds and project herself as some sort of go-between, ultimately she received nominations from everyone directly affected.

Glyn, the Welsh teenager with a previous crush on her, threw a nomination her way for not talking to him any more. Lea said she had changed, becoming “false and fake, and I don’t like that quality in a person”. Nikki said she was the only person with whom she didn’t know where she stood. Pete – during an agonising two-hour stint in the Diary Room (in which he demonstrated his mystification at who to nominate by suggesting “Dave”) – eventually admitted that he thought she was one who “plays games in the house”. Richard, previously a strong ally, denounced her for “trying to get in with the plastics”.

The nominations were more than enough to earn Aisleyne a place before the public, and the names of those who nominated her illustrated a spectacular fall from grace, emphasising that a grand plan – akin to that of Sezer in the second week – is likely to return and bite you on the backside. A backside which, in Aisleyne’s case, was on display pretty much all the time.

Upon the announcement of her nomination, Aisleyne reacted appallingly. Big Brother contestants know the rules, know the pitfalls and cannot expect themselves to avoid getting the odd back up. The housemates were shut behind the glass doors of the lounge area, and Aisleyne wanted out immediately. She couldn’t get there, the doors were locked, and nobody’s words – not even those of fellow nominee Susie – could quell her obvious distaste for her co-tenants at that point. She said she wanted a smoke, but not even a lungful of fresh nicotine could have dissolved the contempt and anguish she felt. She only had herself to blame, and under it all she knew it. However, this wasn’t going to stop Aisleyne – who, like all nominees, was now convinced she’d be evicted – from going off on one. It was heartbreaking to see her tumble so low, but a compelling example of the human character which Big Brother, for all its idiocies, still occasionally manages to expose.

“Houseful of fucking wankers,” whinged the ghetto girl, who has courted mild ridicule from the others for using expressions associated with the black population in her vocabulary (ending sentences with “innit”, calling the house her “yard”). There was no ambiguity about her choice of wording now.

A chat with Susie, whom Aisleyne (rightly) felt she could trust, made her realise that friends can stab each other in the back when a large financial incentive is at stake. Susie was so concerned with Aisleyne’s state that her well-heeled guard dropped (albeit briefly, deliberately and with thought) when she said that the money was “an incentive to be an absolute bastard”. Aisleyne cursed her gullibility; she should have been cursing her over-estimation of her own importance.

It is possible to transcend cliques if you do it with integrity and timing. Scott was a fine example of this in BB4, and as a consequence he found himself not up for nomination at all after the first week. Aisleyne’s prior form allowed her lack of integrity – and her undignified habit of still gossiping crudely at any time she could – to arouse the suspicions of the very people she was surreptitiously alienating. Had she stayed as she was – friend of the “adults”, shunned by the “plastics”, and occasional carrot holder to Glyn’s libido-powered donkey, she’d have picked up nominations from maybe Mikey, maybe Imogen and perhaps Nikki. None would have been guaranteed. Pete would have been clearer about her status and might not have endured his personal agony. But three nominations would have been enough on the evidence of the week to avoid the drop – Richard had an unflattering three nominations but still escaped a vote. Aisleyne couldn’t hide her obvious duplicity, and her downfall was secure.

It got worse as her attitude spilled into an all out bitch-fest – the kind the house has been threatening to dredge up – with her former ally Lea. It seemed a trifle unfair that Aisleyne singled Lea out, especially as she couldn’t be sure as to who had issued the nominations, but tensions over Pete had materialised and Aisleyne labelled Lea “manipulative”, which sent the hard-faced 35 year old squealing to the others. Aisleyne was cruel, but Lea’s reaction proved the argument as she gathered a whole group of kind-natured tenants around her for her sobbing session. Aisleyne, in the bedroom and listening, nodded in vindication. It also affected Pete, who doesn’t want any of this hassle and has encouraged no-one, and so when Lea said he’d changed, he finally flipped, chucked his drink away and told his clingy, uninvited matriarch that he hadn’t changed, never had, never would and that he was sick of the bother. The air was cleared, but Lea came out of all of it looking emotionally bruised. Aisleyne, at great cost to herself, had been proved right.

Susie was the other nominee, and she was philosophical and not unexpectedly mature about the whole business. The reasons for her nomination were based on general apathy about the house, inability or unwillingness (certainly the latter) to involve herself in the japery, and a lack of understanding of what she was hoping to gain. Certainly it seemed a waste spending this alleged four grand on chocolate bars and eBay accounts just to get up early, clean the kitchen, drink tea, antagonise folk about her “private” bathroom (which it technically isn’t), go to bed early and have an air of superiority over everyone. Nikki summed it up when she said, “I feel like I have to watch my Ps and Qs”, and anyone whose actions threaten to cool the Nikki furnace needs to be washed away swiftly. Susie herself had said in the Diary Room that she wanted to get work out of the Big Brother experience. Honest, but pointless. Unless she fancies being someone’s kitchen hand.

So, Aisleyne and Susie faced the vote. As Aisleyne started her histrionics, Mikey said: “Something must be wrong if Nikki’s not up.” This killed the rest of them, with Nikki appreciating the gag if not the agenda behind it. “It’s a fix!” said Glyn, joining in. And, one of the quotes of BB7 thus far came later when, in a discussion about Aisleyne’s reaction, Nikki said: “I took it well, didn’t I?”

Lea, Pete and Richard all replied quickly and simultaneously with a single two-letter word, and the country guffawed in disbelief at Nikki’s lack of guile. A genuinely priceless moment as one recalled Nikki’s extensive range of tantrums, hissy fits and girlish threats over three consecutive weeks of nomination.

Nikki is, however, in danger of being continuously nominated in future weeks when big personalities like Aisleyne don’t dominate everyone’s thinking. She still hasn’t grasped the idea that major moaning sessions are best reserved for the privacy of the Diary Room. This lack of shrewdness does her make her greatly entertaining, still. A game called Soap on a Rope, when three trios had to get a token out of a bar of soap purely from scrubbing one of the housemates with it, was as entertaining for Nikki’s usual wails of pain and mock-nausea as Mikey and Aisleyne rubbed her tiny, well-tanned back at great pace and force. Mikey, grinning, handled the situation superbly in what was, as said at the top, a great week for his standing, both inside and outside the house. “Don’t start crying, it’s only a bit of fucking water!”, he said. Nikki looked at him and melted. “You’re the hardest person in the world to argue with Mikey,” she said, as the tearless sobs turned to giggles. Meanwhile, a camera was deliberately manoeuvred to show Richard scrubbing a bent-over Pete from directly behind him, with Richard anticipating the easy misconception provided by the angle. “How on earth is this going to look?” he smirked, as Pete twitched and grimaced back and forth in front of him.

A team consisting of Susie, Imogen and Glyn won the game (the other two teams were disqualified for cheating, to which Aisleyne threw a strop), and were given a luxury spa in the bathroom, complete with champagne, beauty treatments (Glyn covering his face and neck in a white face mask), strawberries, chocolates and robes. This led to Glyn quaffing a considerable amount of bubbly and, having also necked some cider when the housemates regathered to relax in the evening (even though Nikki had stolen one from his bed, which prompted Mikey to retort: “After the fuss you made?”), had a grave-digging moment when he told the housemates what he regarded as home truths – he was the youngest but Nikki acted like it, and Lea was like his mum. There then followed a comically nauseous night. He was out of bed constantly, initially making it to the bathroom or to the bucket which Mikey had considerately left next to his bed, and the heroic Scouser kept having to sacrifice his whispering of sweet nothings with Imogen in order to check on the teenager each time he had to vomit again.

Mikey was a hero. As well as supplying the bucket, he happily helped Glyn to the toilet, knelt him down and rubbed his back as Glyn – still helplessly drunk – learnt his salutary lesson. On putting him back to bed, Mikey had just got his own head down when Glyn asked for the bucket back and it was realised with horror that the mumsyish and disapproving Susie had removed it for aromatic reasons and taken it to be emptied. Consequently, there was a mad panic as Mikey and Richard desperately pulled Glyn by random limbs from the bedroom towards the garden, with the Welsh lad memorably making a quick stop at the kitchen sink. The women were no use – screaming, laughing and running was all they (apart from Susie) could manage. Richard was laughing too, but also getting on his hands and knees to clean up.

Mikey went to the Diary Room to express his anger at Susie and was spot on. Her attitude that Glyn was an adult and therefore behaving inappropriately didn’t wash with the Scouser. “Glyn’s 18, got pissed up, so what? And he’s been sick, and she’s acting like it’s the worst thing in the world.”

The next morning, the wake-up alarm chosen by Big Brother was a replay of the noises made by Glyn during his bout of illness. “Okay, I get the point,” he whined, with a colossal hangover. He apologised profusely to the housemates. Everyone was fine about it – except Susie, who was, as ever, already up and about (cleaning the kitchen, natch) and therefore didn’t hear.

It was great stuff. Glyn told the Diary Room he now appreciated what binge drinking could do to a person, before recalling bits of his inebriated speech the night before. It also did Glyn no real harm, as everyone (barring the melodramatic Lea – proving further proof of Aisleyne’s crusade) accepted that he was both youthful and drunk and didn’t know what he was saying. Lea’s mournful, over-sensitive demeanour next day forced the contrite lad into an unnecessary hug of forgiveness.

Although Glyn maintained his standing as an amiable, decent lad with innocence and a lack of pretensions on his side (and entertained the nation with his doleful pleas for a new black pudding as his had gone out of date), it was tougher for Lea and Aisleyne to regain their trust for each other. Richard’s desire to counsel and advise prompted both of them to sit down and bash it out. This couldn’t happen until further blows were inflicted on Lea – when a task to keep litres of milk in a huge tank using bodies to plug the holes was failed, everyone realised Imogen had been Big Brother’s planted saboteur, there to make sure that failure meant success. Aisleyne instead chose to incriminate Lea, for little reason. The rest of the housemates let them get on with it, or as Mikey put it: “No point crying over spilt milk.”

Then housemates were asked to fill in forms and place them in a Suggestion Box, designed to help their co-tenants become better housemates. It would have been easy to have real digs at each other, but a grumpy, wallowing Lea moaned once too often about it being another tool to destroy her, and Aisleyne turned round and whined: ” Me, me, me, me, me!” at her. Eventually they sorted it, but the argument only became interesting once Aisleyne left the house. The suggestions weren’t up to much, although Pete didn’t seem too happy to be told to shower more often as he had body odour. Nobody ever accepted responsibility for that particular suggestion.

Now, as we knew from Davina’s breathless commentary the week before, a Next Door house had been secretly constructed and the person with the most votes would not be evicted, but moved Next Door and welcoming five new housemates. So, was moving Next Door a good thing? This made the decision on whom to vote for complicated – was it a punishment or a reward? An absolutely petrified Aisleyne got the move, with a hand beckoning her back down the stairs from the unopened sliding doors and into the new premises, saving her from what she assumed would be a public destruction. Her relief was exceptional – nobody in Big Brother history had been more scared than Aisleyne clearly was.

Aisleyne’s reaction (“Oh my God!” over and over) was fabulous, as was her incessant pinching of herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. The new housemates then arrived. Aisleyne welcomed them to the new “yard”. Nobody knew what was going on but slowly it began to fall into place. The housemates in the main house had no notion of what was happening. And the trouble for Aisleyne has only just started. She’ll be returning to Lea and the arguments quicker than she thinks. She has also got the ammunition of Pete admitting his nomination of her to go back to. This might be brilliant, or it might be a disaster. Hold on tight…


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