Big Brother

Friday, June 29, 2001 by

The week began in a rather dull fashion with Josh complaining to Elizabeth that he felt the Big Brother experience wasn’t helping his personality to flourish in the house. After some shrewd prompting from The Patronising One, he revealed: “If I told two people in here what I really thought of them, I’d tell them to fuck off!”

Tuesday night brought nominations. Who would be out this week? Would Paul be up for eviction for the third week running? Elizabeth and Dean’s insipid Tai Chi routines in the garden would surely be enough to push at least some of the housemates over the edge? In between all the questions, Elizabeth and the rest of the group staged a fake hypnosis session to fool Paul, Helen and Brian (i.e. the most gullible amongst them). Unfortunately, even pretending to be terrified of the chickens and saying there were demons behind the mirrors, failed to make Josh interesting this week.

The nominations threw up a few surprises ­ every housemate excluding Helen, voted for Paul, and Bubble had three nominations.

A word here about the “romance” which is supposedly taking place between Paul and Helen. It is surely no more than flirtation brought about by boredom and the need for attention which both of them seem to crave. Far more interesting would be some kind of dalliance between Brian and Josh – and although they have both asserted that this will not happen, there is more electricity between these two in their play fights and knowing looks than Helen and Paul can muster with their so-called intimacy.

Meanwhile, this week’s record breaking task seemed set to be entered into The Guinness Book of Records as a record in its own right: the world’s most boring televisual event.

Elizabeth’s birthday brought her the choice of a running machine for a week, or a “pampering party” for everybody. Of course, it was really no choice at all, and Elizabeth, ever aware that she must preserve the image of selflessness, plumped for the latter. Paul became mildly interesting for a brief moment, when it was revealed that his sleep-talking antics had now progressed to singing; American Pie, to be precise.

As Helen squealed in delight at the luxurious cosmetics supplied by Big Brother for the party, it was up to Dean, ever the dullard to chide: “Remember who it’s for!”

The contestants perked up a bit as the evening went on – it began with them sat about in white robes like inmates from Champneys and ended with a naked Elizabeth, Helen and Amma writhing around in the bath and teasing a clearly stunned Paul. While Helen and Amma seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves, Elizabeth appeared about as outrageous as usual, i.e.; not very.

Some sparks of personality did shine through this week – Bubble’s ingenious use of pebbles to spell out a poem on the lawn, and Brian’s wail of :”I’m so bored, I could cry!” We sympathise.

The contestants are certainly more media savvy than last year’s. There is lots of talk amongst them of “how will this look?” and an understanding of the manner in which TV can manipulate and interpret events to its own means. There are of course, already rumblings that the more interesting housemates are leaving – certainly Penny’s kookiness made for compelling viewing, but who can say they really miss Stuart’s po-faced stomach crunching and Narinder’s constant moaning?

This week’s eviction however, came as a bit of a surprise – surely Paul’s number would be up this time? But no – the public had voted and as Davina proclaimed: “The nation has removed the joker from the pack.”

No doubt Bubble’s eviction had something – if not a lot – to do with the spat that broke out between the tabloids this week, with The Mirror backing Paul and The Sun behind Bubble. In the end, it was the closest vote of the series so far, with only 6% deciding Bubble’s fate.

This was another of those episodes where you wished the broadcast had stayed on the house live in the 90 minutes between Bubble being told, and him leaving the house. Later, we saw him break down in tears in front of Elizabeth, worried that he had let his daughter down. This was raw emotion from a character that had readily admitted he was “only in here for the money” – a comment that Paul had slyly been informing the other housemates about all week – and one that may have been Bubble’s downfall. It was a rather sad exit and appeared to leave the other group members truly surprised and dejected.

Having watched E4′s coverage quite extensively, it becomes even more obvious this year, that the “edited highlights” which make up the Channel 4 programme exist to portray the housemates as characters in a living soap – although perhaps those characters are less clear cut this year than last. E4′s coverage lurches at times from the sublime to the ridiculous (it begins at 6am whereby you can watch enthralled, as the housemates sleep until around 10am), but it does give a whole other perspective on the events and personalities in the house. If you really want to know what’s happening in the Big Brother house, catch E4′s live coverage, but if you’re happy with another episode of the living soap, then tune in to Channel 4.

And if Paul goes on to win the prize money, I’ll eat my own thumbs.


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