Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Celebrity Big Brother 4

This post is a little behind the times because the final of CBB4 was towards the end of January, but we have had to wait patiently for altruistic geeks to upload each episode to the internet before we had access to them (and if you are one of those geeks -- thanks). As a result, we've only recently finished watching them.

For the uninitiated, Big Brother is HUGE in the UK. The final of this year's Celebrity Big Brother pulled between 6.5 and 7.5 million viewers (depending on which source one reads). That's over 10% of the population. Add to this people in remote locations (like us) who download it, and you begin to get the picture. It is hosted by Davina McCall, Dermot O'Leary and Russell Brand, with Marcus Bentley providing commentary.

Every summer, 11 or so self-obsessed wannabes are put into the pressure cooker that is The Big Brother House, where they fight it out for about 3 months, while the public watch. Each week the contestants nominate the least favourite of their housemates to face the publc vote. The public then vote for their least favourite contestant. The person with the most votes is evicted from the house. The title of the show is derived from the George Orwell novel 1984 ("Big Brother is watching you"). This summer will be Big Brother 7.

Every winter, they do the same to a number of z-list celebrities who need the money; want to revive their flagging careers (or boost their fledgling careers); want to redeem public opinion that was lost because of some past misdemeanour; or who were just poorly briefed by their agents and don't know what they're getting themselves into. As in the summer shows, they stay the course for the money. In addition, proceeds from the show go to the celebrity's chosen charity. The timespan is shorter (this year it was 3 weeks) and the celebrities don't have cameras in the showers/toilets. Apart from that, it's the same as the summer series.

This year, there was:

Faria Alam
A Football Association secretary who is infamous for having had an affair with the England manager, Sven-Goran Eriksson. She was the least successful at rebutting the advances of Dennis Rodman.

Michael Barrymore
A comedian/family entertainer with a drink problem. He now lives in New Zealand. His British career came to a grinding halt after his fall from grace with tabloid opinions. This fall largely concerned a body being found floating in his swimming pool after one of his parties. Throughout the 3 weeks, he kept crying at every opportunity, did a lot of cooking, and picked arguments regularly. He came second place.

Traci Bingham
I'd never heard of her, but apparently she's a model and has been in Baywatch. She seemed to know one of the other contestants -- Dennis Rodman. In her opinion, almost everything was "Awesome".

Pete Burns
He is famous for having been a singer in the band Dead or Alive and for being completely weird. He spent the three weeks starting arguments and insulting everyone. He made headlines by taking into the house a coat made from Columbus Monkey fur, which was confiscated by the police.

George Galloway
A left-wing, outspoken Member of Parliament who was kicked out of the Labour Party in 2003. He is the token intellectual, the presence of whom is necessary to get coverage from the broadsheets and mainstream news. Last year this role was provided by Germaine Greer, but she realised her mistake early and left the house. Galloway recently made the US news by sticking it to the US Senate. Over the next few months, let's see if he can claw back some of the dignity that he lost during his time in the CBB4 house.

Rula Lenska
An aristocratic classical actress. I'd never heard of her before CBB4, but apparently she was in The Rock Follies.

Andrew Majors (a.k.a. Maggot)
He's a singer in the band Goldie Lookin Chain -- sort of like a Welsh Beastie Boys minus the attitude.

Jodie Marsh
An Essex (a region of England) version of Traci Bingham, minus the "Awesome".

Samuel Preston
A singer in a Ska band called The Ordinary Boys. I'd never heard of him or his band before, but the show has caused their album sales to soar. A good romance (whether real or invented by the tabloids) in the house always boosts ratings. He provided this year's love interest by frolicking with Chantelle Houghton.

Dennis Rodman
Again, I'd never heard of him, but apparently he's a famous basketball player. He clearly has much too much testosterone than is good for him and spent the three weeks in the house having his sexual advances rebuffed by each of the women in the house, in turn. He also seemed to have difficulty stringing a coherent sentence together.

And finally, the winner:
Chantelle Houghton
A non-celebrity, Paris Hilton look-alike from Essex. She had to pretend to be in an up and coming girl band. If she successfully convinced the others that she was a pop star, she could stay in the house; otherwise she would be evicted. Because the British public love supporting the underdog and because the real celebrities were so self-absorbed that they bickered and argued for the whole three weeks, Chantelle was able to sweep the floor with them and win the contest, thus giving her her 15 minutes of fame (Warhol reference).
For the past couple of years, Big Brother has been a bit disappointing. We had thought that we might not bother with BB7, especially as we are in the US. However, this CBB was such fun that we're starting to rethink this stance. After all, what would summer be without Davina and Dermot?

Here's some Big Brother links:

Channel 4's BB Pages
Channel4's BB Archive
Wikipedia (delve as deep as you want to)
The BB Website
BB Blog

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