Just what the fuck does Tommy Sheridan think he’s doing?
No, hold on, that’s a stupid question. His justification will be the same as that put forward by his good friend George Galloway about his own appearance on Celebrity Big Brother three years ago. George argued – and appeared to sincerely believe – that the show offered an unprecedented opportunity to communicate with young people who ordinarily would take no interest in politics. And he sort of succeeded in that millions of youth who would have trouble picking Gordon Brown out of an identity parade know who George Galloway is – trouble is, most of them came away with the impression that he was a wanker. In fact, George may be the only man on the planet who believes his appearance was a great success.
And now Tommy is giving it a go. Actually, he may get a chance to talk politics – Tory girl Lucy Pinder will probably be up for an argument – but he’s going to get a rude awakening if he thinks it’s going to be all, “10.45, and Tommy and Lucy are discussing the situation in Gaza.” The point of the show is bickering and bitching and inane tasks that make the celebrities look like plonkers. The only advice I can give to Tommy is, if they ask you to impersonate a cat, for God’s sake try to do it with a twinkle in your eye.
Aside from that, it’ll just be a test of how well he gets on with strangers in a cramped space. He does have a certain rugged Sean Connery sex appeal, but does he have the wherewithal to survive the house without getting up everybody’s nose?
One also suspects that the producers are hoping that, by dangling some attractive young women in front of Tommy, his libido will get the better of him. Not if he has half a brain cell, it won’t. Tommy, as we know, has certain legal troubles, and will have an eye on the court of public opinion. Perhaps more to the point, he’ll be aware of the possibility of Gail skinning him with a blunt knife if he misbehaves. You cross Glaswegian matriarchs at your peril.
On a brighter note, I’m happy to see Terry Christian in there. Come on, you remember Terry Christian. No? Well, it probably says something that his career highlight is still presenting The Word, which, let’s be honest, was pants 90% of the time. What I remember it best for was Terry’s unique interviewing style. I have never seen a man with such a genius for killing a conversation stone dead. Let’s see if he’s got better at it. Anyway, he can be excused some relief that his nemesis Frank Skinner, the Emu to his Parky, is nowhere to be seen.
Ah yes, Lucy Pinder is there after all. I’m afraid she starts with three strikes against her. Two of these are to do with demographics, as the Big Brother core audience consists largely of gay men (an appreciable subset of whom don’t like women) and young women (many of whom take an instant dislike to any woman they perceive as prettier than them). Her third strike is that, being a Page Three stunna, people will assume she’s a mindless bimbo. In fact, in real life Lucy is intelligent, charming and often very funny, but I’m guessing that her intelligence, charm and wit do not feature among the two reasons the producers are interested in her. The calculation will be that Lucy’s participation will attract an army of “lads” looking for some one-handed viewing. But the lads will want Lucy to be whipping her bra off every thirty seconds, while that’s the very behaviour most guaranteed to alienate the core audience. I feel her only option is to play down the glamour and hope her natural likeability shines through.
Stopping briefly to remark that I’m very taken with Verne and Tina, and expect great value from both of them, let’s just do a brief survey of the rest:
Ulrika-ka-ka: Walking tabloid headline, to the point it’s difficult to remember what she was famous for in the first place. I expect women will hate her, and the Daily Mail will be asking pointed questions about who’s looking after her many children by many fathers. The one person this year most obviously looking for redemption.
La Toya: Ditzy, but hasn’t made much of an impression on me yet.
Coolio: This is where the audience cry, “Who he?” One stonking single back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, but seems to have faded from view since. He might be brilliant, or might be another Dennis Rodman.
Michelle: This is the anti-Coolio problem for me. I’m vaguely aware that Liberty X existed, but couldn’t tell you a thing about Michelle. This won’t be a problem for the Heat readers out there, though.
Mutya: Yes, generational issues apart, I am aware of the Sugababes and enjoyed a few of their singles. Mutya may well be lovely, but I’m not sure I’d want to get on her wrong side. Expecting fireworks from that quarter.
Ben: Boy band refugee, looks good, seems bland and inoffensive. There’s your early favourite to win then.
Of course, all this is just immediate impressions. We’ll have to get into the bitching and the tasks before things start to clarify themselves. And, against my better judgement, I’ll have to cast an eye over Big Brother from time to time. In any case, I fully expect this to dominate the left blogosphere for the next three weeks. Phil has beaten me to it with a measured assessment, there’s more forensics from Madam Miaow, and no doubt there will be plenty more fun elsewhere.