Citizen Tommy does Big Brother


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.


  1. skidmarx said,

    January 3, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Of course once he enters the house Tommy won’t know any more about the situation in Gaza. And every time Galloway tried to talk about politics in the house, such as trying to read from the Communist Manifesto, the producers bleeped everything. At the time I thought it might have been a useful attempt to raise the profile of socialist politics, though with hindsight it was only his own profile that was being raised and began to show the tension that was perhaps inevitably to mean that he could no longer work in harness with actually existing revolutionary socialists.

  2. Madam Miaow said,

    January 3, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    My blog’s now up. Let’s hope Tommy doesn’t appall the audience the way some have in the past.

    Watching the live feed, there’s been more politics from Terry than Tommy. But it’s early days.

    Verne and LaToya were so sweet. Both very shy and hiding in the bedroom while the extroverts were bonding in the living room. I feel my opinion of her changing for the better already.

  3. David Ellis said,

    January 3, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Yes, it’s between Verne and La Toya with possibly Ulrika third and Coolio fourth.

    I don’t think any harm was done to Galloway by his appearance in BB. At the time it seemed like a disaster but then people regained a sense of perspective and humour and thought fair enough and well done. Sheridan might benefit and follow a similar trajectory or he might play it too safe and become even less well known. He could have a mock punch up with Verne a la Austin Powers I suppose.

    First out: Mutya due to `homesickness’.

  4. WorldbyStorm said,

    January 3, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    What a line up. Terry Christian? Barrels. Scraping. Bottom.

  5. sonofstan said,

    January 3, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    I may be the only one who remembers this, but Terry Christian’s TV debut was on an ‘alienated yoof’ type prog presented by Gus McDonald where the dole fodder of young Manchester was asked what it thought about ishoos (I think Johnny Marr was also on it, funnily enough) – Anyway TC was clever and articulate on that, and in overcoat and wedge looked like a 5th member of Joy Division; you could see he fitted Gus McD’s idea of what an updated versh of the grammar school educated angry young man of his youth would be like and he -and the camera – doted on him. And he was very politicised and aware. God knows what happened….

  6. Darren said,

    January 3, 2009 at 6:58 pm


    someone over at Urban 75 claims Terry used to be a member of the WRP. Think it’s true?

    PS – I knew Terry would be the only one in the house to recognise Tommy Sheridan.

  7. Dunne and Crescendo said,

    January 3, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Always had a soft spot for Terry; a lot of mates in Manchester know him and he is a decent lad by all accounts. His ‘Reds in the Hood’ wouldn’t trouble the Booker prize listings but its an ok read on growing up Catholic and of Irish extraction in Manchester in the 60s. I’d certainly have him down as a leftie, but probably not an ex-WRP member!

  8. Dunne and Crescendo said,

    January 3, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    Btw Mutya’s mum is from Limerick; thats where she gets it from then!

  9. Phil said,

    January 3, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    Always had a soft spot for Terry

    Me too, somehow despite rather than because of the Word (which is odd, as that’s the only thing I’ve seen him on). Maybe it’s just a local thing – you hear Manc accents on national TV from time to time, but you very rarely hear Stretford Nasal.

  10. Lobby Ludd said,

    January 3, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    “Maybe it’s just a local thing – you hear Manc accents on national TV from time to time, but you very rarely hear Stretford Nasal.”

    A small mercy, I suppose.

  11. Eddie Truman said,

    January 4, 2009 at 12:11 am

    Terry Christian did in fact used to be a member of the SWP way back in the day when I first joined Militant.

  12. charliemarks said,

    January 4, 2009 at 2:11 am

    Yes, Terry Christian is a socialist – I remember him on some BBC current affairs show, of the chatty variety, chiding a New Labour minister on the need for socialist policies.

    And Lucy Pinder is a Tory. Is this not a big enough strike against her (so to speak)?

    Plus, “Sean Connery sex appeal”? Never. As for Tommy…

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  14. Jon said,

    January 5, 2009 at 12:38 am

    Yes, what the fuck does he think he’s doing? At least Galloway has the excuse that he didn’t know how bad it was going to be, and he didn’t know he would get censored. Sheridan has seen the footage- he must be bonkers if he thinks this is going to do him any good.

    And I, a fresh-faced recruit to left politics, campaigned for him in ’07. Don’t I feel like a muppet?

    His explanation, circulated to Solidarity members and supporters, is simply that he needs the money. Fair enough but if you gain your income in a way that damages the standing of your political party, not to mention the idea of socialism, then you surely forfeit the right to be a leader of the party and of the movement. Specifically, his appearance on the show will damage the attempts currently being made to find common ground with the SSP, and the negotiations with the RMT over left political representation.

  15. Mike said,

    January 5, 2009 at 2:56 am

    If I recall correctly Ulrika first became well known as a scab. Presenting the weather on TV.

  16. Hasta siempre comandante said,

    January 5, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    #14. What attempts to find common grounds with the SSP? He published an article in the Daily Record, pretty much pulled out of his left ear and unilateral, like everything else this loose cannon does. Since that paper was the same one in which he shrieked that the SSP were “scabs”, the seriousness of the approach can be questioned.

    This guy disappoints most people who once worked for him. Sometimes the disillusionment came in 2004, sometimes in 2006, sometimes later. Wake up and smell the coffee – he’s a greedy egomaniac.

  17. charliemarks said,

    January 6, 2009 at 5:00 am

    In defence of Tommy, he is a human being like the rest of us and should be forgiven for his sins. If he was all that greedy he would never have taken a workers’ wage as an MSP, donating the rest to the party – in fact, if he was all that greedy he’d have gone into purely nationalist politics…

    One assumes that the issue of censorship was something that was fought over in negotiations – he’s spoken about his imprisonment for anti-nuclear weapons protests with fellow housemates, and this hasn’t been censored.

    Last night he did his “what I am well-known for performance” with a speech on the Iraq war, which went down well with his fellow housemates – but given that the “it’s about oil” argument is even accepted by Alan Greenspan, we shouldn’t be too surprised it aired uncensored.

  18. Hasta siempre comandante said,

    January 6, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    I think he has been corrupted over time, though the seeds of it must have been present early on. People like him have evolved towards the political mainstream for careerist reasons. But I don’t think the Labour Party or SNP would accept him now – in the past they might have done. He is a flake with too much embarrassing baggage of all kinds.

    I remember him ranting in court about being just a “human being” in 2006. A week or so later he was calling people scabs in the Daily Record in an article for which he received considerable payment. The Scottish left is still suffering from what this greedy egomaniac, I’m sorry, “iconic” greedy egomaniac, has done.

  19. skidmarx said,

    January 6, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    He got a decent speech in last night’s show.He seems relatively relaxed, maybe being openly in it for the money means he’s less afraid of making a fool of himself.

    What I most remember of Galloway on Big Brother was his lionising of Michael Barrymore, who seemed to me to embody all that was mediocre about Saturday evening TV.

  20. Jon said,

    January 7, 2009 at 12:30 am

    #18 “The Scottish left is still suffering from what this greedy egomaniac, I’m sorry, “iconic” greedy egomaniac, has done.”

    I think you’re over-egging the pudding a bit here. Seems to me like there was a lot more to the SSP split than just Sheridan’s ego, a lot of behind the scenes tensions which finally bubbled over with the court case. Otherwise, how did he succeed in taking a large chunk of the party with him when he left?

    I should point out that I was never a member of the pre-split SSP, and this sort of hyperbole by the anti-Sheridan faction is what put me off joining the post-split SSP. Doesn’t change the fact that he’s a prat for going on Big Brother, of course, but I do think the Scottish left’s problems run deeper than Tommy Sheridan.

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  22. Cat said,

    January 8, 2009 at 12:51 am

    Jon – there was never “an anti Sheridan faction” in the SSP, that was spin spun by Sheridan and his supporters. Comrades tried to hold him to account but he refused to be held to accoungt many party members believed Tommy was above the constitution and being held to account for mmany different reasons.
    1. Some people believed Tommy could do what he liked regardless
    2. TSome people believed that Tommy was the “most iconic socialist in the post-war era” and therefor could be given a blank cheque
    3. Some people believed his history and outstanding role allowed him to do what he wanted
    4. Some people wanted to have a shot at leadership or did not like the leadership so saw it as a coup.
    5. Some people wanted to take over the SSP i.e. SWP
    6. Some people wanted to punish members of the SSP for not agreeing with them i.e. CWI
    7. Some people were lied to and never knew the whole story
    8. Some people were just plain daft
    9. Some people were nasty and horrible and probably misogynistic
    10. Some people were just loyal.

    You of course would be welcome to join the SSP, we are too busy building the party, being involved in plethora of campaigns to be worried about Sheridan, though its fair to say some of us are battle scared.

    Tommy has chosen to go on CBB6 for three reasons

    1. Money
    2.Narcisstic supply
    3. He has a game plan

    Good luck to him.

    Don’t feel like a muppet – how were you to know?

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