And after all the scandal two years ago, Celebrity Big Brother is back on our screens once again. Davina McCall was getting all excited as per usual about the very slightly changed BB House with two new bedrooms and that was about it. But every year we just want to know about the contestants so here goes:
First off was LaToya Jackson, the second member of the Jackson family to enter the house after Jermaine was in the last series. Just like her brother, LaToya is quite softly spoken although as she wasn’t in the Jackson Five not quite as notorious she’s been a songwriter and wanted to go to law school but her father said no. So from LaToya we are hoping to gain some insight into the way the Jackson family was run. As she made her way out of the car she got some cheers and some boos but overall the reception was warm as she got the house rules and was the first to find out that you had to baggsy a bed so she got herself the private bedroom just behind what was B-Block last year. Next up was Mutya Buena formerly of the Sugababes, who wants to go into the Big Brother house to learn more about herself apparently and not revive her flagging solo career in anyway oh no. She said that the press should look at how talented she is and not about her aggressive personality. Third in was another American and perhaps this year’s biggest draw and littlest person Verne ‘Mini-Me’ Troyer. Quite insensitively Channel 4 played ‘Mr. Bigstuff’ over his VT of course we’ve got to focus on the nice cute side of Verne and not that he released a sex-tape last year. As he doesn’t do stairs he has to go through the door behind the diary room dragging his obviously heavy bag behind him. LaToya greets him warmly while Mutya just looks rather bemused.
In the middle Channel 4 stuffed in the filer-crowd so Scottish Politician and this year’s George Galloway: Tommy ‘conflict-is-my-life’ Sheridan is next in, I’m guessing Channel 4 will try and make as big a prat out of him as they did Galloway three years ago. Glamour model Lucy Pinder was next in a girl with obvious intelligence but is known for getting her boobs out, but is blatantly in the house as nothing more than a pretty face. Former Boybander Ben Adams of A1, bills himself as a singer-songwriter, as no-one as seen him for about seven years, we have to believe that he’s been behind the scenes writing songs a la Gary Barlow and apparently he’s been writing for Alexandra Burke of X-Factor fame. Then there was fat, funny, Scouse bird (her words, not mine) Tina Malone formerly Mo McGee in Brookside and now Mimi Maguire in Shameless (she likes that double M alliteration), she apparently is the last person people expect to do this but yet here she is. The third and final American was rapper Coolio of Gangsta’s Paradise fame, I’m guessing sales of his last album were low and he agreed to do this. Coolio it seems to me was the basis for the Tracy Jordan character in 30 Rock as he walks round with the same swagger and comes out with the most random comments. Another person looking to boost their profile is Michelle Heaton of Liberty X and Andy Scott-Lee fame. She is one of the most fame-hungry in their clinging to a career that ended ages and ages ago and she’s already divorced at age 26 or something like that. In my mind the most likeable housemate is former The Word frontman Terry Christian, who again hasn’t been popular since the mid-nineties although I do remember him doing a kind of Points of View thing on Sky in the early part of this decade. Christian has a Mancunian charm about him as probably has the least inflated opinion of himself. Finally and reportedly the biggest paid star is Ulrika Johnson, the most infamous maneater around having affairs with everyone from Sven Goran Erikson to Gladiators Rhino and Hunter. She has been married three times and has four children to four different dads, she obviously has the most to gain from resurrected her public profile after last year’s disastrous documentary – Ulrika: Am I a Sex Addict?
So there are the eleven you’ve got the big Hollywood stars like Verne and Coolio who are there for a big payday, LaToya Jackson who’s there to find herself and the rest to rebuild their profile. Tina and Terry will probably do the best in this respect both middle-aged Outspoken and Northern they will be presented in a positive light. Ulrika is an interesting one because she’s an unknown commodity I can’t see what work she can get off the back of this. The singers in Ben, Mutya and Michelle will try and get back in the media profile, Ben in particular has been out of the press for a while and is favourite to win which will do wonders for him. Then there’s Tommy Sheridan who I’m hoping is trying to get some work on Have I got News For You or The Wright Stuff or something similar and finally Lucy Pinder who should’ve probably gone on I’m a Celebrity get Me out of Here as she’d have a better opportunity to get her baps out. As the show only started on Friday I’m not going to talk about what’s gone on this week that’ll have to wait till next week.
As I didn’t go out this New Years, I stayed in and watch Jools Holland’s Hootenanny. It was a mixed bag with highlights of this Years’ new music with The Ting Tings, Adele, Duffy and Sam Sparro all performing but the highlights were Martha Reeves and Vandellas who were the only to perform four songs. Annie Lennox and Dave Edmunds provided someone for the older members of the audience to recognise while their also performances from Jewish lawyer lookalike band The Hold Steady and mouth organ group from Finland Svang. Of course there were the celebrities comedians galore with Al Murray only saying the word Hootenanny when he was interviewed while the now annual appearance of Lenny Henry was no surprise there was also the woman from Dragon’s Den and a very sour Jo Brand. Some of the highlights of the show were Murray and Henry stalking round Duffy during performances in a slightly sexual predatory way. Although there were also lowlights particularly Lily Allen whose cover of ‘The Lady is a Tramp’ was one of the worst things I’ve ever heard but thankfully Adele’s cover of ‘I Just Wanna Make Love to You’ was a lot better. While the Hootenanny is taped and not live on New Years most of the participants are still drinking like it is New Years and it still beat ITV1’s competition of Elton John’s New Year Party and Bruce Forsyth Night on Five.
Onto the new year now and one show that is back with us is The Krypton Factor however it has now been modernised which means no more Gordon Burns or flight simulations. Instead its personality void Ben Shepherd giving questions to geeks and muscle-men alike in a hope that they will have The Krypton Factor. Some of the games remain the same, the clip observation round which is supposedly from a soap is less hammy and the questions a lot easier. The final general knowledge round and making a 3D picture round remain intact as well as the opening Brain-teaser round but the most famous round of all the army assault cause seems to have been moved into some woods somewhere. Brining back and modernising popular quiz formats is always a risk Bullseye with Dave Spikey didn’t work because it was on Challenge, Going for Gold with David Suchet didn’t work as he has no personality and Henry Kelly should’ve done it so with the Krypton Factor for those who want nostalgia don’t keep watching. But it’s still a good format in itself even though Shepherd isn’t the best presenter in the world we really watch it to make fun of the geeky contestants and see if we can actually answer any of the questions.
Finally we have the highlight of the New Year’s Day line-up with the return of Jonathan Creek which primarily returned as a way to remind people that Alan Davies wasn’t just a berk behind a desk to be mocked by Stephen Fry but instead a decent actor. I even thought he may be the new Doctor Who but how wrong I was. Davies’ old assistants Caroline Quentin and Julia Sawhala have both departed (and have new series starting on BBC this week) so he was joined by Sheridan Smith of Two Pints of Larger fame. Smith actually made a pretty good sidekick and the two of them together shared some banter despite the age difference (I’m actually bigging Smith up as the new Dr. Who assistant). The story which involved an evil magician and a room in a big house where people disappeared was very well done. As always it involves the use of magic and Creek’s keen mind but he clashed with Smith’s character Joey who preferred the power of lateral thought. There were also some gags to be had in the subplot involving Jonathan’s American magician friend who built into the 3D porn industry only to find out that the porn star he fell for had fake boobs. The IT Crowd’s Katherine Parkinson also provided some good moments as Creek’s would be girlfriend. Overall a good show to watch after a heavy New Year’s Eve and as ever David Renwick’s scripts are brilliantly balanced with humour and mystery in equal measure. And I wouldn’t be surprised if this came back for a full series later this year.
Next Time: Demons, Plus One and Life of Riley