Reviews

This Week in TV: Big Brother, The X-Factor and Jedward Let Loose

As Big Brother looks set to leave Channel 4 forever I thought I’d take a look back at this 2010 series as well ushering the return of another reality TV juggernaut

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I’m going to take us back all the way to night one and before meeting the housemates we got the usual look around the house which has actually been themed this year to look like some kind of evil carnival. There are several evil clown faces adorning the walls, the smoking area is an abandoned dodgem cart and there is even a fortune teller machine named Bob Righter. There is also a parrot called – wait for it – Davina MacCaw, I wonder how long creative took to come up with that one. There is also a wooden character that has returned after an appearance in Celebrity Big Brother, no not Katya but The Tree of Temptation who has since been whittled down into a bathroom chest. Yes the tree which got Alex Reid to have his most competitive fight against a snowman, has been causing havoc with the housemates.

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Talking of the housemates the major difference this year was that we got to see the 81 short-listed housemates that we would be spending the summer with. These included a pair of male twins, a dwarf and a Mr.T look-a-like however first up was a blonde Bristolian lass who surprisingly likes cider. Josie really wasn’t the smartest tool in the drawer, or in fact may not have made the drawer at all, but that doesn’t stop her from quickly becoming the favourite. Next up was former army man Steve who was blown up by a bomb during the Northern Ireland conflict and now has many artificial limbs. That makes him seem half tough army man and half Johnny-5 from Short Circuit, he also has eight kids so it seems that he hasn’t lost anything down below if you catch my drift. Surprisingly even the war hero got booed this year which I think was people actively supporting terrorism. The third housemate was the traditional villain we knew this because he was a bit posh. But really Ben was a camp public school-boy who was a work-shy freelance journalist. He had a bizarre video which included him sitting with a mannequin at his house when he entered the house he commented that it was a bit like Boy George’s house so I wondered whether he thought that a rent boy would be chained to the radiator.

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Next up was Rachel who looked a bit like Beyonce and that was the only thing you could really say about her. So we turn to Nathan a Northern joiner and the dictionary definition of the word Lad. Yes he likes getting drunk, pulling birds and I’m sure he has a subscription to Nuts magazine. He also said that he could do anything with wood even turn a chest of drawers into a canoe so I’m guessing if he stayed until the end he could’ve done something with the tree of temptation. One of this year’s characters was Dave who is a Christian Minister who gets people drunk on the Holy Spirit and I think he likes a bit of a naughty cigarette on the sly. I’m guessing he doesn’t usually dress as a monk but for full effect that’s what he did on the night. Making it seven was Caiomhe who Big Brother seemed to actively hate taunting her about her attention seeking ways which made you wonder why she got put in in the first place.

Shabby Katchadourian This Week in TV: Big Brother, The X Factor and Jedward Let Loose
Another ‘character’ was Shabby, real name Keeley, a former child star who know describes herself as a film-maker. I’m not sure if Shabby has actually made any films or she aspires to make them but instead she thinks she’s Charlie Chaplin and wears a Chaplin hat constantly. As soon as she entered the house Shabby fell down the stairs, similar to how Pete Bennet did four years ago, however Shabby isn’t as likeable as Pete and instead has a more unlikeable rebellious streak which makes her seem like BB5′s Kitten. Shabby was followed by the more down-to-Earth dancer Ife (pronounced iffy) all I can say about Ife is that she has a lot of wigs, that’s about it. Next up was Aussie JohnJames who seemed to fill the dull hunk role and indeed on Facebook a lot of girls instantly fell in love with him. JohnJames had journeyed from Down Under just to compete in the show however he has seen a lot of it previously so knows how to play the game.

Mario the Mole This Week in TV: Big Brother, The X Factor and Jedward Let Loose
The last three who entered were Corin who liked to think she looked like Katie Price but instead looked more like Lorraine Chase. Corin seems very simple but likeable and incredibly chatty. Next up was Govan, a lad who may or may not have been gay but was incredibly bitchy and had never been kissed. Finally was hippy chick Sunshine a medical student who’d legally changed her to Sunshine and has a Chihuahua dog. Sunshine likes to think that she is ‘different’ and ‘kooky’ but secretly wants to be accepted. But things weren’t quite over yet and Davina presented a tombola shaker and an independent adjudicator before McCall picked a number out of the shaker and Mario was picked as the wildcard housemate who had an impossible secret task to become a house mole, although he couldn’t be that secretive and had to go into the house wearing a mole outfit with a sandwich board that said ‘I’m a mole’ and live in a mole hole for the first few days.

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But Mario wasn’t picked as the house mole as most of the housemates thought it was too obvious and instead chose Sunshine. Irritable Sunshine kicked up a fuss about this and was nominated by the majority of her housemates along with Dave and Shabby. However another twist to this year’s show was that nominated housemates got a chance to save themselves in the save and replace task in which if they one they had to replace their name with a non-nominated housemate. Dave replaced himself with Rachel who then was evicted, she was followed in the next three weeks by Govan, Sunshine and Nathan. The storyline that dominated the first couple of weeks was the relatiosnhip between Shabby and Caiomhe, Shabby really fancied the Irish beauty but it was not reciprocated as Caiomhe wasn’t gay and had a boyfriend so feeling rejected by most of the house Shabby walked in Week Four. Also in Week Four three new housemates arrived in space-suits first up was tiny Keely who seemed to want to do the dishes as soon as she got in the house. Keeley wanted usurp Steve’s role as daddy of the house but the self-proclaimed baron wasn’t having any of it and instead decided to flirt with him. Scouse trolley-dolly Rachel’s role seemed to be to be as incredibly loud as possible but the best of the new three was maths-geek Andrew. Andrew was incredibly likeable and the house seemed to agree with this and adopted him more than the other two.

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Week five saw Ife evicted and week six saw Caiomhe walk after feeling incredibly paranoid and then Keeley injured in the Save and Replace task and deciding not to come back into the house. The housemates were then given another six newbies of whom they had to pick thee of. They chose boring boxer JJ, self-proclaimed cougar Jo and lovely but nervous Laura who quit the house within four days. Most recently the annoying street artist Sam Pepper replaced Laura on the same night that Ben was evicted meaning that there are now only six original housemates and five who have entered since the beginning. The other big dominant story is the romance between JohnJames and Josie, which has developed over the weeks and means that they get the most camera time. Call me Mr. Cynical but I believe that both knew exactly what they were doing and have used this as a chance to stay in and get tons of magazine deals when they come out.

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Another thing about this series which has marked it out as being original is that for the first time packages have been put together featuring edited highlights of the tasks. And it helps that most of the tasks rocked the housemates had to take on a robot at various mundane tasks that included smoothie making and hairdressing the latter of which saw Ben give Dave a haircut that made him look years younger and a lot better. The male housemates were then captured by a super-cougar and the females had to be superheros and release the men through a series of challenges. The house was then transformed into a kind of high school musical fame academy and Pineapple Dance Studios’ delusional star Andrew Stone entered the house and got the group singing and dancing which led to Steve and Rachel mark two lead the house in a music video of ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ and then Andrew and Corin sung I’ve Had the Time of My Life outside the house. The most recent task had the housemates ignore things that were happening in the house these included Geordie announcer Marcus Bentley commentating within the house, Jedward performing a mini-concert and various family members entering.

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To the end of Big Brother now and when Corin and Sam were eliminated in the Semi-Final it was obvious that Josie would triumph over nerdy Andrew, Moley Mario and Dave The Sinister Minister. After her win Josie was joined by 10 past housemates first up was Chantelle who as we all remember was the non-celebrity in Celebrity Big Brother and romanced, married and is now divorced from fellow contestant Preston. If anyone didn’t see Preston following her into the house, then you’re a complete idiot but obviously producers did that for the desired feeling of awkwardness. Former winners Nadia (Series 5) and Brian Dowling (Series 2) soon joined the group but then there were a couple of iffy picks. First up Ulrika Johnson who didn’t really seem to enjoy herself the first time in the house when she won Celebrity Big Brother 2009 also from that series Coolio was picked simply because he was an American and another celebrity John McRirick, though entertaining, simply didn’t want to be there. Things picked up with the inclusion of BB6 nutcase Makosi and BB7′s winger Nikki Grahame and the final contestant was the only original housemate ‘Nasty’ Nick Bateman who had claimed that he wasn’t going in. I think we all have the idea of who we would want in our Ultimate Big Brother house, and mine would be fairly low on celebrity I would definitely chuck out Coolio and Ulrika and the entertaining McRirick would also go. I think it was a good idea to put Chantelle and Preston in but they are both pleasant people there wouldn’t really be any fireworks after the initial meeting. Instead I think Nikki Grahame’s ex and fellow housemate Pete Bennet would’ve made more of an impact. I would’ve also like to have seen Jon Tickle, Science and possibly some more recent contestants like Charley, blind Mikey and Marcus. Josie escaped after a couple of days after everyone dissed her relationship with angry Aussie John James while Coolio also walked and John was evicted. Friday night saw two new entrants one of my all-time faves BB5′s Victor and also from that year glamour girl Michelle Bass who know seems to be losing her Geordie twang and is using some horrible posh voice. Whether it’s questionable that this is a fitting send-off for Big Brother, I think putting all the ex-winners in would’ve been a better idea, it’s still a nice little nostalgia fest. Although there’s no doubt in my mind that Dowling will take the crown even though the Jungle Cat should reign supreme at the end of the day there should only be one Victor.

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Now it’s time to cross your arms together and jiggle them like an idiot while a camera sweeps over your head because it’s time once again for another series of the super-juggernaut talent series that is The X-Factor. There’s only a few tweaks to the format this time later on we will see eight acts get through to the judges’ houses stage and a rumoured 16 finalists. Also the judging panel is a little different as Danniiiii Minogue was busy popping out a sprog, so it was fair enough when they got in some replacement judges. Although no-one was expecting Cheryl Cole (surely it should be Tweedy again) to get Malaria, although judging from the first episode I think she may have been faking it so she didn’t have to put up with Louis Walsh saying ‘you know what I really like you’ to every flippin’ contestant. Minogue’s first replacement was former UN ambassador Geri Halliwell, we got a video package reminding us of her achievements but really she hasn’t been relevant since about 2002 when she was responsible for helping Walsh put together Girl’s Aloud. For an opening show there were very few rejections with even the patchy, and in one case, awful singers got through. The biggest example of this was the final contestant 30 year old single mum Shereena Johnson who did a version of Duffy’s Mercy without any of the words. Despite this Cowell loved her and but her through where no doubt she’ll be eliminated at Boot Camp. The most memorable act of the first show had to be the group G and S, a 40 year old gay man who couldn’t sing a note and his 20-something straight companion who was just alright. Of course lovely Ginger Spice thought that S was good and she just happened to have another song already on the tape deck ready to sing she warbled her way through ‘Get Here’ well enough to be put through. The fact that she already had the other song ready may mean that the accusations of the show being scripted, which this week have come from both Simon Pegg and Lily Allen, may have some truth to them. Also making the grade where first auditionee Stephen Hunter who performed a rather interesting routine to Disco Inferno and Glee style band Noir.

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For me though there are two girls who could develop throughout the show. The first is Katie Wailsell who’d dedicated her look to Madonna and whose idol was Freddie Mercury, she was told by Simon not to perform original choice – At Last by Etta James instead singing We Are The Champions but after she failed to impress she went through after singing At Last, confused? I was. But it was charming Zimbabwean born Gamuchirai Nhengu (Peter Dixon will have fun with that name if she gets through to the live shows) performing a bluesy reimaging of Walking on Sunshine, she’s the current bookies favourite and if you saw it then you could see why. I have to say The X-Factor is beginning to look a little tired, we kind of know who’ll get through and what’ll happen. For me the audition shows go on way too long but we still watch it and that says something about Simon Cowell’s pull on the nation’s viewing habits although maybe the next series of X-Factor should be its last.

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This is probably best evidenced by the fact that some of the show’s novelty acts are now getting their own shows including the annoying Irish twins from last year’s series. Jedward, as they are now officially known as, have signed a record deal and are performing regularly in their infinite wisdom ITV2 thought they needed to engineer even more entertaining situations so had them move out of their family home for a bit and into their own Dublin apartment. The hijinks they have include them failing to cook anything and even not realising that the fridge is switched off which is later revealed to them by their road manager/babysitter. Other events in the first episode include a CD signing and a collection of free clothes from a trendy high street store. The incident where Edward fell during T4 on the Beach is also covered in some detail as is his recovery. Say what you want about Jedward but at least Edward is a professional and performed the rest of the set in excruciating pain. We also were told how we can tell them apart and I think John is the one who gawps on the photo while Edward is the one with the toothy smile, or is it the other way around? While Jedward seem to be fairly nice young Irish lads, we can’t really kid ourselves into thinking their anything more than a novelty act. They barely scraped through into The X-Factor Finals somewhere where you don’t really need the best singing voice in the first place. I think the Grimes will soon after find themselves another career as their pop star light will no doubt soon dim but as long as it is still shining bright their having fun with it and why not eh?

Next week: I Am Slave and the last ever episodes of The Bill and The Last of the Summer Wine

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