Monday, 31 December 2001

Big Brother 2001

Week 4

Well, we have now entered week four in the Big Brother house. I had intended to write about what can only be called a phenom some time ago, but various circumstances kept getting in my way.

Anyway, there have been some really tough times for the housemates in the past week, and these seemed to have revovled around one man, Stuart, who was evicted from the house with a massive 86 per cent of the public vote last week. Almost a million people voted for him.

When he first entered the house, Stuart seemed to have what some termed a "Nick Bateman" quality about him. In the first week of nominations, he received none. But things seemed to change when Josh came into the house, one day after Penny was evicted.

Before Josh, Stuart seemed to regard himself as the so-called "alpha male" of the group. Given his background and training, this seemed a very obvious role for him. He would often find himself controlling situations and conversations, and doing that very well.

Then Josh entered the house, and things changed. Stuart was no longer the centre of attention, especially from the ladies. The girls seemed to be completely wrapped up in Josh, and were devastated when they found out he was gay. Well girls, I know a few other ladies who felt the same way as you. The feeling among some of my female friends is that Josh is a terrible waste - to womankind.

The housemates that nominated him said it best - after the second week, Stuart changed, and got more competitive. This new attitude earned him four nominations last week, and, along with Paul, he was put to the public vote.

What seemed to clinch it for me was Wednesday night, and Brian's birthday party. Tempers were very high that night. As the two gay housemates, Brian and Josh, had their spat, Amma tried to give her point of view, but Stuart wouldn't let her have her say. So the second argument began.

Watching the events unfold the following night on Thursday's highlights programme, it became obvious to me that Stuart's time in the house was coming to an end. Having already had one massive row with Penny previously, there didn't seem any way that Stuart would survive the public vote after this argument.

To his credit, Stuart admitted he was wrong, and patched things up with Amma. But the damage had already been done. By the time Friday night came, it was obvious Stuart would be leaving the house.

So out of the nine people left, who are the favourites to win now? Sorry, but I really don't think any of the ladies will win. The top three favourites for the big prize have to be Dean, Brian, and Josh.

No one seems to have a bad word to say about Dean. The failed pop star seems to have been a favourite since before the contest began.

I have to admit, Brian is just so damn entertaining. Others have said this, but he reminds me in a way of Graham Norton.

As for Josh, well, if you forget what you read in the papers about him, then he could be the dark horse of the three. Everyone in the house seems to like Josh, with the possible exception of Brian. It's ironic when you think that the only man in the house who has had misgivings about Josh, a gay man, is Brian, a gay man.

So there you have it. I have to admit, after last year's compelling contest, I had my doubts as to whether Big Brother 2 would be able to deliver this year. I admit now, I was wrong. This thing is as addictive as ever!

Week 5

The compelling viewing that is Big Brother 2 has now entered week 5. We are now down to eight housemates, with Narinder having left on Friday evening.

But like many who watch this thing, I'm starting to see a pattern developing here. Events are starting to mirror those of last year, and I'm not talking about Nasty Nick here.

What is happening is that all of the interesting personalities are being voted out very early on. Narinder was perhaps the only woman in the house who told it how it was. She didn't suffer fools gladly. And she didn't need to get drunk to get truthful.

Going up against Paul in last week's eviction vote, I had a feeling that, even though I voted for Paul, Narinder would be the one to walk. She even said this herself, and began to act accordingly.

Frankly, Paul is boring. His stories, none of which I will go into here, mainly because many of them are long, boring and tedious, beggared belief sometimes. When he admitted the other night he was bisexual, I began to think that perhaps this was another one of his larks. After all, there are two gay men in the house.

Granted, whenever anyone had a problem or was upset, Paul was there. He was a shoulder to cry on. But his stories were, well, let me put it this way - if I told him about my recent injury, my badly cut arm, his arm would have probably been cut right off in his story.

But some of the people left there now are basically dull as hell. Dean, the favourite at the outset, just seems to fade into the background most of the time. Someone said he'd probably win because the others would forget he was there. Elizabeth is about as charismatic as toilet paper.

Bubble, although entertaining at times, can be very annoying. Josh, before he was voted into the house, promised to spice things up to for us. All he seems to do is sit down and play Backgammon most of the time.

Helen, as I said before, is strictly there for the eye-candy, and Amma always has to disagree with everything, as well as getting up early in the morning and stealing other people's food. Perhaps the only interesting one left is Brian. But now Narinder is gone, who will be his sidekick?

So, just three days after Narinder was booted out by the British public, many are saying they wish she hadn't left. Well, you should have thought about that last week, shouldn't you!

Before I go, I watched with interest Penny meeting Stuart "on the outside" on E4's "Big Brother's Little Brother" last week. I couldn't believe what I saw. Even though Stuart now considered their argument long over, Penny still held a grudge.

For the first time since this thing began, I'm sympathetic towards Stuart.

Week 6

What came as a surprise to everyone last Friday was when Bubble, the cheeky chappy from London, was voted out of the Big Brother house, having lost out to perennial eviction nominee Paul by a mere six percent in the vote.

Right up until last Friday, Bubble was still second favourite behind the lovable Brian, but, upon hearing he was up for eviction, he seemed visibly shocked, as did a couple of the other housemates.

Bubble started off in the house as the lovable, cheeky rogue, always having a laugh, always cracking a joke. Granted, this wasn't exactly to everyone's liking, but it did earn him the admiration of the nation, well, most of it anyway.

Although he started off a happy chappy, there were times when a deep depression seemed to set in, especially at weekends. Bubble was obviously missing his young daughter, who he saw at weekends. This was obviously having a profound effect on him. But during the week, involving himself in the tasks, Bubble cheered himself up.

There was also the accident during the dance task, when an asleep Bubble crashed into a chair and went flying through the air. The badly bruised leg didn't sit well with him. Taken out of the house's everyday activity, and being left to just sit in the garden with his leg in the air didn't do much for his morale either.

And although it didn't seem like it at times, Bubble's interplay with Brian was hilarious, a site to behold. Although they behaved like a couple of bitches to each others at times, they had formed a close friendship.

But when Davinia McCall made that announcement at 8:50 last Friday night, it was as if a huge bomb had dropped. Everyone had thought that Paul, whom many regarded as the most boring man on the planet, would be the one kicked out, but it wasn't so.

Watching the interview with Davinia that night, Bubble seemed visibly shocked at being kicked out. He seemed very humble when he revealed that he was only in it for the money, so he could give his daughter a better life.

Although Bubble was not one of my personal favourites, his departure from the house has left a massive void. The housemates described it best themselves when they said it seemed like five people had left the house.

So who is the next favourite to leave? It has to be Paul, although I have noticed that he has become more assertive as of late. But bare this in mind - in the three weeks he has been up for eviction, the percentage of votes he has received has gradually increased - from 14 in the first week, to 36 in the second, to 47 last week. Could this be his final week in the house?

The one I feel sorry for the most is the recent addition to the house - Paddy, a little Bichon Frise dog. This week for their main task, they have to teach this old dog some new tricks. They are obviously very confident, having bet half of their shopping budget. But if that dog had been mine, I wouldn't have thrown him in there with that lot!

A quick mention about last year's Big Brother. I've been thinking a lot about Nick Bateman's tactics last year. Just think about it for a moment - if he hadn't been found out, if he hadn't been thrown out of the house, and had made it to the final three - there is no way he would have won - the highest he would have placed would have been third. And this man claims to be intelligent?

In conclusion - one of Britain's Sunday tabloid newspapers said that Bubble would have lasted longer in the house if he had acted like Brian or Josh. Why? Because Fairy Bubbles always last longer!

Weeks 7 & 8

Well, having not been able to do my usual Big Brother 2 column, we've got a lot to catch up with - two evictions, and a budding love affair!

Firstly, Amma's eviction, the last eviction in June. Everyone's favourite food stealing farting lap dancer was probably, apart from Brian, was the last of the so-called "interesting" people in the house.

Amma had a really strong character, possibly because of her job, but there were times when she was incredibly annoying. She always had to put her view across, and sometimes, she did this in a very forceful way, as was evidenced by her argument with the now departed Stuart.

But Amma's eviction showed that the trend to evict those with the strongest and most interesting characters continued. Especially when you see that the housemate she defeated in that week's vote was Paul!

Last week's main talking point, and probably the main talking point for the remaining two weeks of BB2 will be the blossoming relationship between Helen and Paul.

This relationship has been brewing for a few weeks now, but really seemed to get off the ground last week, and Channel 4, fearing a loss of ratings now that the most interesting of housemates were gone, came up with a plan - intimate, candlelight dinners, breaking the remaining six housemates into pairs, with Paul and Helen getting their cosy time together in the den.

It was obvious what Channel 4 were trying to do here. You didn't need to be Sherlock Holmes to see this.

So, it was with some anticipation that I tuned into the live feed on E4, to see the happy event, as Helen and Paul tucked into their dinner in the den. And five minutes later......

I switched over and watched gay housemates Josh and Brian instead. One word could describe Paul & Helen's conversation perfectly - dulltastic. Josh and Brian, however, was far more interesting. After their trials and tribulations together, and their clear the air conversation, they really seemed to get on a lot better after this.

So, instead of watching the live feed, I watched the highlights show the following night. While Helen was openly flirting with Paul, Paul wasn't biting. No matter what she tried, what bait she used, Paul would not have taken a bite. Helen couldn't have made it more obvious if she had worn a T-shirt with the words "take me now" in big black letters.

And so, as the relationship bloomed, the evictions came around, and while Paul was spared the public vote last week, Helen went head to head with the late arrival, Josh.

Josh didn't stand a chance, and, if anything, he was a victim of circumstance. If Josh had been up for the vote against Dean or Elizabeth, he would have probably won. But because his "opponent" was Helen, his chance of staying in the house was virtually nil. Josh garnered a massive eighty-four percent of the public vote. A massive 1.2 million people voted to evict him.

Josh had promised the public much before he was voted into the house, and he hadn't really delivered that much. But because the British public wanted to see Helen get jiggy with Paul, Josh had to go.

And so we are now into the final two weeks, and the last five housemates. So who will win - Brian is still the favourite. Even though his "straight men" are no longer in the house, Brian is still providing great entertainment.

And so we await the end, and we hope that we don't get bored witless by Dean and Elizabeth.

Week 9

Well, I guess it was never meant to be, was it?

For weeks, we waited for Helen and Paul to "get jiggy with it". We watched hours and hours of flirting, a few cuddles, some playful fights, and then.....nothing.

To be fair to them, if I was flirting with someone, I would find it difficult to do anything like THAT in a house literally filled with cameras.

But for some reason, some unknown reason, the (possible) love affair between Paul and Helen is made headline news around the country. It literally appeared on the front page of every newspaper in Britain. For some reason, I find this a little worrying. If a nuclear war had broken out last week that story would have probably been pushed back to page seven and beyond.

But nothing happened in the BB house. Paul went up against Helen in the eviction stakes, and with a massive 86 percent of the votes, Paul walked, leaving a sad and tearful Helen behind.

But why has this budding romantic relationship so gripped the nation? For probably the same reason that the entire Big Brother concept has gripped not only Britain, but perhaps the entire world.

We are basically a world of nosey parkers. We love to find out what is going on in the private lives of celebrities. Magazines like Hello and OK thrive on this kind of stuff, and the public at large buy those sort of magazines, and newspapers, just to read gossip.

Big Brother is really no different. Ten people who are complete strangers to the country at large enter this building filled with cameras, and are locked up for just over two months, being wittled down, one at a time, until the final week.

And we, the public, are addicted to them. We watch them talk, discuss personal things that they would not normally discuss in public, and why? Well, for me, mainly because much of what is put on my television in front of me these days is a load of rubbish.

But I'm going off the beaten track here.

So Paul left the house last Friday, and since then, he has told us of his feelings for Helen. To cut a long story short, he is in love with the girl.

Inside the house, Paul came across as being a boring prat, but watching him this week on E4's "Big Brother's Little Brother" show, a man who I really could not stand has earned my respect a little.

The way he parodies himself is really quite funny. He may have come across as a "lad" in the house, but outside, when he talks about himself, and of his feelings towards Helen, you can see that he is actually quite a genuine person.

And besides, anyone who saw BBLB last Tuesday, and his plans for "The Ultimate War Machine" had to realise that this man really does have a sense of humour. I would love to see someone actually make a model of that thing!

And so we are now down to the final four - Dean, the paternal figurehead of the group, Elizabeth, the annoying mother, Brian, fast becoming the nation's most loved gay man, even more so than Graham Norton, and the aforementioned Helen, the woman who is still a child at heart.

So who will be evicted tonight? And who will be the last man (or woman) standing tomorrow night? Only time, and the votes of the public, will tell.

The Final Night

Friday, 27th July - 9:30pm.

The past two days in the house have been a rather hectic affair. Last night, having been given just three minutes notice that someone was going to be evicted, four became three as Elizabeth, with a paltry two percent of the vote, left the Big Brother house.

And to be honest, I am really not surprised. For some reason, I really didn't take to old Betty that much. I have no idea why this was, but judging from what I've been reading over the past days and weeks, I'm not the only one.

Elizabeth's tenure in the house is the classic case of two different perceptions. On the inside, she was loved and admired by all the housemates. She had time for everyone. She was always a shoulder to cry on. She never had a bad word to say about anyone - well, at least to their faces anyway. But on the outside, she was not a universally liked person.

Many have said that was scheming, perhaps in a Nasty Nick sort of way. However, her lack of votes showed just how disliked she really was.

And so it came down to the final two, and a few minutes ago, the so-called father figure of the group, Dean, was officially placed third, leaving Helen and Brian to fight it out for the top spot.

Some have said that Dean was really boring. While I admit, Dean had his moments, but there were times that he really annoyed me.

During one of his regular moaning sessions with Elizabeth, he said discussing things like current chart acts was beneath him, that he wanted to be stimulated mentally. It's just a good thing that he was talking to Elizabeth then, and not to any of the other housemates, because he would probably have been booted out weeks ago!

Dean's main problem was probably his age. At 37, and for most of the competition since Stuart's departure, Dean was the oldest housemate. And with the rest of the housemates ranging in age from 22-27, he probably found it hard at times to relate to the others.

But all fairness to him, he tried his best. He was the father figure of the group. He was the one people turned to whenever they had a problem, and he played the role well.

I hear Dean is now going to play at the V2001 festival this weekend. I wish him the best of luck.

And now we are down to the final two. It's 9:46pm, and we are just forty-five minutes away from finding out who will win this year's competition.

Friday 27th July - 11:42pm.

There really could be only one winner, couldn't there? And it wasn't really a close-run vote.

Polling nearly twice as many votes as Helen, everybody's favourite gay airline stewart Brian Dowling won Big Brother 2001, and from the beginning (almost), it was obvious who was going to win.

Although she was becoming well-loved for what have now become known as "Helenisms", the lovely Welsh hairdresser was always going to run a very distant second to Brian.

In her post-eviction interview, Helen came across as...well, as Helen only can. Perhaps she was the only "genuine" person in that house. And I would like to go on record as wishing her and Paul well in whatever relationship they have, and it's pretty obvious what sort of relationship the entire country wants them to have.

But this night will forever belong to Brian. I said before that he reminded me of Graham Norton. Brian was, without a doubt, the most likeable man in the house. Everyone in the house liked him, and the entire country loved him.

Sure, Brian had his bad moments, the most notable of which was his on-going argument with Josh, but even then, was there any doubt that Brian wouldn't walk out of the house a winner?

So what is next for Brian? In my opinion, whatever he wants. Brian has the talent, and without a doubt, the personality to undertake any career he wants. I would like to wish him well for the rest of his life. Over the past 64 days, he won many fans in Britain. I am more than happy to count myself among them.

Well done Brian. You deserve it.

Sunday, July 28th, 2001.

The dust has now well and truly settled. A certain house in Bo, East London, will now remain empty until next year. The builders will come in, move a few things around, upgrade a few things, all in preparation for next year's Big Brother 3 event.

But will it be as compelling as this year's, or for that matter, last year's event. On this, I can offer no comment. All I can say is that time will tell.

To be honest with you, I had my doubts about this year's competition. On the day that the event started, and the ten housemates entered the house, I looked at them entering the house on the website, and began to think "how dare these people come in and spoil the memories of last year!"

I began to wonder if they could live up to last year's top quality television. How could they live up to the likes of Craig, Anna, Mel, Tom, Caroline, Darren, Claire, Nikki, Sada, Andy, and especially, "Nasty" Nick.

Without a doubt, last year's competition was a hit. We had some great moments, and people began to ask, could this formula be repeated a second time around.

The answer was a resounding yes. Last year, we had no idea what to expect. We had seen brief snippets from the Dutch version, and had heard how that had become a big hit. The same was expected of the British version, and this turned out to be the case.

But there were differences between the two competitions. Whereas last year's BB house seemed a little "sterile", this year's renovations changed the look of the house completely. What looked like a hospital last year looked like a splendid palace this year, The Ground Force and Changing Rooms teams would have been proud of these changes if they had done them.

This year's competition had many special moments, and gave us many new "friends" to watch every day. There are definitely far too many to list here.

Also, the coverage this year was helped by Channel 4's new digital station, E4. Those without Internet access could now watch the coverage 18 hours a day on this station, as well as E4's own special show, Big Brother's Little Brother, with the excellent Dermot O'Leary as host,although I must say, I was more than pleased when co-host Natalie Casey "vanished" after the second week.

And now, we look forward to next year's competition. News has it that the applications for next year's event will be available soon. To be honest with you, for a few fleeting moments, I had considered applying for this year's competiton, and some have said I should apply for next year. I have to admit, it is mildly tempting. Hey, it might even get me that job as a WAW commentator that was talked about a few months ago!

In closing, this year's event was better than last year. We had many great moments, some great television coverage, and in Brian Dowling, a deserving winner. Brian is due to return to his job as an air steward in September. Something tells me that he might not be doing that now!

And if I do apply, and get onto next year's show - you TSC readers will be the last to know!