When previous generations grew old they had impressive things to wax nostalgic about – they could wipe a tear from their eye as they remembered rationing or Muffin the Mule or tripe. Their descendants would gather round to listen to these stories with mouths agape at the privations these brave oldies suffered, be it food or unconvincing TV puppetry related. I can’t see my generation creating the same level of awestruck disbelief when the only thing that we’re able to claim when we’re sitting rocking slowly back n’forth in front of an artificially generated image of an open fire is that we can remember a time when we knew who the celebrities were on Celebrity Big Brother were.
I confess to having missed the last few series of Celebrity Big Brother but possessing a staggeringly low expectation of reality TV I thought I was nevertheless well-armed for whatever crap they were going to vomit up. But as the famous theme music began I was about to be surprised.
I didn’t expect to recognize the celebrities, I didn’t expect the celebrities to recognize each other but even I was shocked to see one of the celebrities (Paula) think another celebrity (Toadfish from Neighbours) was a runner for the production company. But she did. This was all rather embarrassing. And when your starting position is having been in Neighbours for eighteen years your embarrassment threshold starts off pretty high.
One of my favourite bits in Celebrity Reality Shows is where the participants check each other out to see if they are trading up or down in the ever changing exchange rate of celebrity currency. Obviously it would be too much for any of them to hope to swap their limited cachet for couple of weeks with a Beckham or a Jolie, perhaps even too ambitious to dream of an ex-Spice Girl. But they could still hope for someone who could by association raise their celebrity worth a little - a comedian with an alcohol problem, say, or an ex-mistress of a former England football manager.
However, by the time Neil “Razor” Ruddock walked out to meet Brian Dowling it was pretty clear to every other celeb that they were all trading down. I think it’s possible Razor brings down his own celebrity cachet simply by being himself. He’s a sort of walking celebrity death spiral.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Frankie (an ex-jockey) and Rylan (an ex X factor contestant) were sent into the house first and then ordered to divide the group into those who would be lucky enough to be live in the real house with food and heat and those who got to live in the cold basement with scraps to eat and nothing but water to drink. I wonder where they got that idea…
Yep we were back in the world of the Stanford experiment (put it in to Wikipedia) which can usually guarantee to demonstrate that at least a third of the contestants possess “genuine sadistic tendencies”. This group being Z-list celebrities it is more than possible this percentage might be considerably higher. Philip Zimbardo who supervised the original experiment pulled the plug after six days considering it was no longer morally defensible to exploit and abuse innocent people in this way. Those expecting a similar level of restraint by the Big Brother production team may be in for a long wait.
And so the celebrities settled down to their fates…
Except Paula was not quite as prepared as everyone else to settle down to her fate. Within hours she was struck down by a mysterious inability to breathe on her left side. Now I would never suggest that this was anything other than a genuine case of Can’tBreatheOnMyLeftSideitis – a most worrying condition and one which continues to baffle medical science. The Big Brother production team certainly wasn’t taking any chances. A doctor was swiftly dispatched who diagnosed keeping Breathless Paula in the show but letting her go and stay in the main house with heat and food and alcohol just to be on the safe side (even Z-list celebrities are allowed to hire lawyers). Of course many of us feared that Paula the Gasper would take a foolish stand and with a misguided loyalty insist on seeing the series through alongside her comrades in the basement.
But much to the audience’s relief she selflessly decided to head off to bed in the luxuries of the main house. She managed to hide her dismay at leaving the more unfortunate housemates behind that she even seemed to be breathing more easily.
Nevertheless, as we head to Saturday, the production team must be hoping that Can’tBreatheOnMyLeftSideitis isn’t contagious.