Sunday, July 31, 2005

Zhuzh It Up

I don't know what's worse - Kemal leaving or Orlaith staying. Either would be pretty hard to take on a Friday night, but getting both together is enough to make you reach for the Mongolian Coconut Cake.

How the British public can evict a fabulous diva in preference to "a skanky bitch" (Kemal's words, not mine), I've no idea. Kemal may not have been everyone's cup of tea, but he did admit to having gay sex in a skip, which could be a first for Big Brother. In the words of Derek, "there's more mince in that walk than there is in the freezer". And like the mince, Science wouldn't go near him unless he'd been thoroughly washed.

But personally I liked Kemal. It's not every day you meet a mole-obsessive who calls everyone Baby Doll and talks to gnomes in a sari. As he said himself, "I may wear stilettos, but I still have balls". Which he duly proved by walking around the house in a thong.

Orlaith meanwhile continued her constant wailing about her overwhelming desire to leave. Something of course we knew she'd never do...

... until she did, yesterday morning. To be honest, the producers (as well as any right-thinking members of the British public) must have been glad she walked, as it saves them the frankly impossible task of compiling a 60 second montage of her best bits. There's only so much nipple-tweaking you can take.

Orlaith did however surpass herself in the brief interview she gave to Dermot O'Leary on 'Big Brother's Little Brother' today. Not content with announcing that she knew she would stay over Kemal, and that she just wanted to wait for his eviction before leaving, she went on to brand Eugene as some kind of evil genius, and hold him solely responsible for all the unrest in the house. Which, to anyone who's watched Eugene constantly sitting in the corner looking like a scared rabbit in the headlights of a juggernaut, sounds a tad on the barking side.

The good news, however, is that a new contestant is set to enter the house tonight. There may only be two weeks of the show left, but people of Britain, it's not too late. We can hope for only one thing:

The return of Kinga.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A Man Called Gust

In the spring of this year, Channel 4 launched 'Playing It Straight', a late night reality show which challenged a half-wit called Zoe to select a straight man from a line-up of twelve blokes. Whereupon she spent six weeks getting to know them... and then chose Mr Gay UK 1998. Which amused me anyway.

So I was particularly pleased to discover that now the school holidays are here, Channel 4 have turned down the chance to show mid-morning repeats of The Hoobs, and have instead elected to broadcast the original US version of 'Playing It Straight' at 10am on a daily basis.

The show was a major hit in the States. So much so that Fox TV axed it after three episodes. Which must have been mildly irritating for people like me who make a good living from betting on the outcome of such shows with their loved ones. My girlfriend's been living in poverty since the UK version of 'Playing It Straight'. But America's loss is our gain, and assuming Channel 4 manage to keep the show going until the end of next week, we should be able to successfully sort the Dale Wintons from the Laurence Llewellyn Bowens.

In today's first edition, hosted by Daphne Brogdon (who scores over the UK version by virtue of not being June Sarpong), we were introduced to college student Jackie, who describes herself as "a fun girl, down to earth..." and "probably a gullible person", which explains why she was chosen for the show. Jackie in turn was introduced to fourteen guys, and told that half of them are gay. A revelation she took well by immediately bursting into tears and saying "I can't do this".

But fortunately, having heard about the million dollar prize on offer (which makes Channel 4's hundred grand look cheap), Jackie soon perked up, and set about trying to root out the gay guys by talking about hairdryers.

My personal favourite had to be real estate agent, Gust, who in addition to having a ridiculous name, cheerfully informed us that "I've thought of doing hair as a career", without once wondering if it might count against him. As he himself admitted, "I'm kinda wishy-washy..." before thinking about what he'd just said, and quickly adding "but I'm not gay".

Gust wasn't the only one willing to offer helpful advice to any would-be sexuality diviners. Love rival Lee commented that "some people may very well construe baking a cheesecake as being gay". So it's official - my mother's gay. While Banks, a software consultant who was rivalling Gust for the title of 'Most Stupid Name', was keen to stake his claim to heterosexuality by stating early on "I enjoy decorating, I enjoy plants".

Others were less forthcoming: "I don't think there's anything about me that would make someone think I'm gay", said Luciano, posing in his skin tight vest.

Among the more lovable contestants was Ryan, a waiter, who stated "there's a fine line between confident and arrogant. I just tend to walk it better than most people". So he's not arrogant, he's just better than everyone else.

Ultimately though, in the supercharged atmosphere of a midwestern barn, Jackie had to send two of these eligible bachelors home, and with the kind of keen insight demonstrated by our very own Zoe, she confidently homed in on the homosexuals, and picked Louis and, horror of horrors, Gust.

Both of whom turned out to be straight.

Personally I was devastated at the loss of my favourite, but like a breath of fresh air, the wind of change swept into that stable, and Gust was blown away. It's no wonder the show got cancelled.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Man, It's Insanity

I missed the first edition of ITV1's new Saturday evening show 'Rock Around the Block' last week, due to having an urgent appointment to watch some paint dry. But I caught up with it tonight, and probably just in the nick of time - it looks like the kind of thing that could be axed at any moment. It's like an embarrassing low-budget cable show that's slept with the right producer and made it onto prime time.

The idea of the programme is to take two neighbouring families, give them 48 hours and an army of stylists and vocal coaches, and expect them to turn out a decent musical performance at the end of it. Which is where the programme falls down. I don't want to ruin the ending, but let's just say they were all rubbish.

The show's voice-over is done by Neil Fox, so ITV have clearly listened to the millions of viewers who say they don't want to see him on their TV screens any more, but have slightly missed the point by continuing to give him work. Neil's disembodied (I wish) voice introduced us to the Swains and the Adams family. Cue much clicking of fingers and jokes about Morticia. They weren't funny to begin with, and they still weren't 45 minutes later.

The Swains were challenged to perform 'Baggy Trousers' by Madness, while the Adams family were handed Ricky Martin's 'Livin La Vida Loca', a difficult song, yes, but Dad Keith was full of confidence due to the fact that his daughters are "naturally musically gifted". He went on to add that "we have a good advantage because the girls are so talented with music". I won't pass any comment on those claims, except to say that I'll be writing to the Broadcasting Standards Commission in the morning.

The challenges set, both families were allocated the odd expert (emphasis on the odd) to assist with their transformation. Top of the bill was stylist to the stars (apparently), Erik Rudy, an American who'd clearly failed the audition for 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy', and was doing his best to make up for it by out-camping Dale Winton on a Saturday night. While he was rummaging around in the Adams' cupboards, white LA rapper, Kaz Gamble was arriving at the Swains'. He'd been hired because... well because the programme-makers seemed to think 'Baggy Trousers' is a rap song. Seriously. You couldn't make it up.

As Kaz himself said, "when the song came out, people probably didn't consider it to be a rap song". True. But... "it sorta is". I'm assuming Madness can sue.

They were joined by choreographer Paulette Minott, who quickly disproved the old adage that anyone can learn to dance, and singing teacher Kim Chandler. Apparently she's coached Westlife, so the woman's used to working with limited talent, but even she had her work cut out here.

Ultimately, two days of hard work and commitment completely failed to pay off, and the families took to the stage for two of the worst showbusiness performances you're ever likely to see. And I speak as someone who watched Jemini on the Eurovision Song Contest. Trust me, it was bad. So bad, in fact, it was almost good. Well ok, that's an exaggeration. But I did have to rewind my video and watch the Swains doing 'Baggy Trousers' for a second time. It was the kind of visually and aurally horrific experience the brain can't quite manage to process the first time around. I'm expecting the delayed shock to set in about this time tomorrow.

But in situations like this, there unfortunately has to be a winner, and tonight's winning family (by virtue of being the marginally less dreadful), were the Adams, who were escorted off stage and handed £5,000 for their efforts. In the words of Kaz Gamble, "Man, it's insanity".

I couldn't agree more.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Lion Power

I despair, I really do. What do the British public think they're playing at?? Citizen Science, one of the finest Big Brother housemates in history, goes up against Orlaith, a woman whose only assets are a pair of fake breasts and a head scarf, and we go and evict Science.

He washes mince under the tap for goodness sake, and insists that "fish fingers is not a luxury item" - that alone is grounds for keeping him in there if you ask me. He even managed to wind up Derek whilst dressed in a blue dog suit, which is no mean feat. But then, as the man himself said, "I'm not a wannabe gangster, but yes, I am ghetto". Whatever that means.

On the other side we had Orlaith, who spent the entire week in tears, talking about her outright desperation to go, whilst simultaneously forgetting that she's free to leave at any time. Her sole redeeming moment came on Wednesday, when she announced that her best quality is her ability to rise above things and not let them get to her. That was 24 hours after screaming at Science in the garden for ten minutes, bursting into tears, and sobbing that she can't cope any more.

But that aside, the woman's just a walking nipple, and we needed to bust her out of there. Personally I think the only reason she won was because no one could spell 'Orlaith' in a text message. Science on the other hand, was the first housemate in history not to care what people thought of him. He was also the first to state "I'm a lion and I'll bite your hand off". And by voting him out, we've bitten the hand that's been feeding us for the past eight weeks.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Keeping Up With the Joneses

Last night Channel 4 boldly launched "an experiment that will reveal if it's possible to use psychological theory to turn bad neighbours into good ones". Oh yes indeed, it's another cheap reality show masquerading as a social experiment. I do love those. They're always the most tacky.

This particular piece of academia went under the title of 'The Nightmares Next Door', and brought together five households from across the country in a purpose built 'village' (ie. caravan park) in Dorset for four weeks. Each family represented a common cause of neighbourhood disputes, and the aim was to teach them all to live in harmony under the guidance of Dr George Erdos, senior lecturer in psychology at Newcastle University.

George, we were told, is "an eminent psychologist", though he was obviously off sick the day they did 'stigmatizing labels' at college, so the programme helpfully referred to each of the households using catchy nicknames, which I'm sure didn't act as self-fulfilling prophecies at all. Well not much anyway.

First to arrive were "The Party Animals", a group of four binge-drinking students from Newcastle. Hang on... Newcastle?? Don't tell me George has hired his own students for this project? Is that allowed? Oh well, I'm sure there's nothing underhand going on. It's probably just coincidence, and doesn't mean the whole programme is fake.

Next up was Simon Warr, "The Bossy Busybody", a residents association chairman with a thing about cornflake packets in the street. His neighbour kindly informed us that "Simon's worst nightmare would be people who are loud, slovenly, and inefficient". Yup, I think that's the remaining three households covered...

The Williams family from Stockwell were next. They were helpfully tagged "The Noisy Neighbours" (no pressure to live up to that label though, obviously), and were followed in by "The Dog Lovers" - Carmen and her two grown-up daughters Holly and Clover (who presumably changed her name from Ivy when she was 18). They arrived with five dogs in tow, which, Carmen told us, are like her babies. Which is a polite way of saying her daughters are dogs. She continued "You don't have children put down when they're naughty, do you?", which was a fair comment, although she hadn't met the Jones family at that point.

The Joneses were undoubtedly the jewel in the crown of this reality show, particularly mother Wendy, who's a kind of Lizzie Bardsley for the new millennium, only not quite as bright, and with more of a foul mouth. Wendy did, however, manage to stop swearing long enough to tell us "I'm a nice person", prompting an immediate response of "No you're not" from one of her children. A chorus no doubt echoed by most of the viewing public.

But the families were soon settled in, and Simon was confidently declaring "I think the most important ingredient of this entire project is that everyone's reasonable to each other", which was possibly slightly optimistic given that the programme was made by RDF Media, the people who brought us 'Wife Swap' and 'Holiday Showdown', two shows not exactly known for their reasonable protagonists.

But still, things started well on the first morning, when Wendy indulged her family in a little neighbourhood visiting, waking up the students with water pistols, before turning to her children and instructing them to "look at these gay fuckers". I'm not sure, but I don't think that's an official part of the good parenting manual. I could be wrong though. And at least it gave Wendy a break from calling her kids "fucking muppets" to their faces.

Fortunately the community were able to bond around their mutual dislike of the Joneses, and celebrated by throwing a residents' meeting in which they took turns to voice their concerns, whilst Wendy confidently declared that you can't stop a six year old from stealing, and announced that there might be severe water restrictions, but she was still planning on filling the paddling pool every day.

Half an hour of complaints later, Wendy paused for reflection with a copy of the minutes, before perceptively commenting "You know... this meeting is all about me and my kids..."

Yup, I think the penny's finally dropped.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Kinky Pinky

What a relief. Vanessa's gone from the Big Brother house. Obviously I'd rather have seen the back of Orlaith (we've already seen enough of her front), but if you can't get rid of someone who insists on tweaking her own nipples in public, second choice has to be a biscuit obsessive who pronounces 'things' as 'finggth'.

Personally I've always been of the opinion that anyone who continually uses the phrase 'Big Bruvvahh' is a nasty piece of work (an opinion I've held since being introduced to Marco last year), so I never warmed to Vanessa, particularly as her mode of speaking varied depending on whether she was in the diary room, sitting on the sofa on eviction night, or happily bitching in the loft. The more TV exposure she thought she was getting, the more she turned her 'th's to 'f's and started lisping.

It's probably just as well she's gone though - another couple of weeks and she'd have eaten the other contestants out of house and home. She even happily wolfed down Science's spaghetti bolognese with orange and lemon, which takes a certain amount of nerve. Although she wouldn't touch Kemal's Mongolian Coconut Cake, so clearly the girl has limits.

Ultimately though, Vanessa's biggest crime was to go into the house claiming to be the loudest person in Britain, and then spend seven weeks eating, sleeping, and generally blending into the background. I've worn louder t-shirts. So it was the end of the road for Kinky Pinky, and after 50 days in the house, finally time to hang the wallpaper.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Whip Your Tit Off

"Whip your tit off". Now if that's not a catchphrase in the making, I don't know what is. Though it's not generally the kind of language I expect to hear at 8pm on the BBC. Well, not unless Madonna's doing Live8. But so began 'The Private Life of Harley Street', a new fly-on-the-wall documentary series which opened on BBC2 tonight with the words "Tonight on Harley Street, a woman's nipple is rebuilt, a top dentist tackles a bad case of dogbreath [is that a genuine medical term?] and Charles Akle gets to grips with a VIP's dodgy gall bladder". Oh yes, it promised much. And if there's one thing I approve of, it's the use of the word 'nipple' seven words into a new series.

Tonight's programme followed three doctors and their patients, led by star of the show Charles Akle, whose fondness for colourful bow-ties tells you just about all you need to know about him. The BBC listings describe him as 'flamboyant'. I could think of other words.

Charles was set for a busy day at The London Clinic, where a 32 year old woman had been coughing up blood. He duly calmed her down with "about a gin & tonic's worth" of prescription sedatives, before helping her to swallow an endoscope by offering the advice "just think macaroni, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum". The sound of the woman gagging and choking suggested that maybe she didn't like pasta.

We were told on tonight's show that "private medicine was once a luxury available only to the priveleged few", but as the voice-over was keen to point out, that's no longer the case, and these days people from all walks of life go private. Unfortunately the programme-makers attempted to prove this fact by showing us Sarah, a woman with a plummy voice, who announced that she first discovered she had a lump in her breast whilst "leaning against the Aga, talking to a horsey friend". Well we've all been there, haven't we. You can't move in my kitchen for showjumpers in front of the range.

Sadly it transpired that Sarah had breast cancer, but fortunately Professor Kefah Mokbel quickly leapt into action and told her "we're gonna whip your tit off", prompting Sarah to respond "that's no problem to me, can I have a new one?". Honestly, if you put these lines into a sitcom script, people would tell you to stop being ridiculous and start being true to life.

But anyway, over the road at the Fresh Breath Clinic, halitosis expert Philip Stemmer was busy announcing that "there have been many cases of people committing suicide because of bad breath". There speaks a man trying to build his part. But fortunately for Phil, along came would-be suicide Amos, a 28 year old karaoke host from Walthamstow, "whose bad breath is ruining both his work and his private life". I'm sorry, but if your name's Amos, you're a karaoke host, and you're from Walthamstow, having bad breath really is the least of your problems.

But Phil carried out various tests anyway, and confirmed that Amos' breath truly was rank. Which is enough to push anyone over the edge. He was then advised to use mouthwash in future - that £175 consultancy fee proving well worth it.

Meanwhile, back at the London Clinic, our Charles was operating on the gall bladder of a rich African woman, whilst commenting that "Hannibal Lecter would love this" and telling us that he wears gloves so as not to leave fingerprints if anything goes wrong. I do love a doctor with a sense of humour. They're so much better than those who take their jobs seriously. After all, when it comes to life or death surgery, what you really need is a bit of a laugh.

Fortunately there was just time to return to the Princess Grace Hospital, where Sarah was undergoing treatment for cancer... and having a breast enlargement while she was at it. Cue some gruesome footage of surgery, and an interesting scene where a nurse arrived with a colour chart and asked her to select a shade for her new nipple.

The show closed with more evidence of the classless nature of today's Harley Street, where woman-of-the-people Sarah, spoke of the experience of cancer patients the world over, with these oh-so-familiar words: "I don't think about it any more. I think about when I can get on my dressage horse".

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Not Strictly African

For reasons known only to themselves, the BBC currently seem to be working on the basis that anything with the word 'strictly' in the title will be a sure-fire ratings success on a Saturday night. So hot on the heels of 'Strictly Come Dancing', 'Strictly Ice Dancing' and 'Strictly Dance Fever', BBC1 tonight brought us the flogged-to-death horse that is 'Strictly African Dancing', a one-off 'special' (and I use the term loosely) screened as part of the BBC's 'Africa Lives' season.

Bruce Forsyth had wisely turned down this particular turkey, and even Graham Norton wasn't interested, so instead the show was fronted by Martin Offiah, who makes Kelly Brook look like a born presenter, and Natasha Kaplinski, who, with her white skin and Eastern European name, naturally kicked off the show by claiming to have African roots herself.

As Martin went on to explain in a stilted voice, whilst squinting at the autocue, "we challenged six celebrities to master traditional African dances". Marvellous. And just which top showbiz names are we talking about here? Well...

There's Tessa Sanderson... Antonia Okonma... Tunde Baiyewu... (no, stick with it)... Robbie Earle... Louis Emerick... and... (fanfare please)... Tupele Dorgu.

Ah yes, household names, each and every one of them.

Natasha went on to tell us that "because they're all originally of African descent, they've also learnt a little bit about their own personal history".

Which is lovely. Of course, Tessa Sanderson was actually born in Jamaica. As were Robbie Earle's parents. But hey, they're black, and that's good enough for the BBC. What's the difference between African and West Indian anyway? Apart from a few thousand miles and two centuries of culture. The important thing is they're all ethnic. And besides, without those two, I wouldn't have heard of any of them, so I can't complain.

Having spent two weeks learning their routines, the celebs were judged by three experts on traditional African dance. And Craig Revel Horwood, who was presumably just there to make up the numbers.

Robbie was first up, dancing "an authentic Zulu dance", no doubt familiar to his ancestors as they left the Caribbean for Newcastle-under-Lyme. He was actually very good. Which is more than can be said for Tupele Dorgu, who apparently plays Kelly Crabtree in Coronation Street, and Louis Emerick, who claimed to be one of the stars of 'Last of the Summer Wine' - a show famed for its ethnic diversity.

Tupele did the kind of courtship dance that could land you in court, while Louis appeared to be dressed in a tutu made out of a pair of old curtains. It's not a look most people could carry off. As Louis duly proved. His dance was apparently all about boasting. Kind of ironic that.

Next up was Antonia Okonma, who I'm told plays Darlene in 'Bad Girls'. She certainly deserved to be locked up for this anyway. And I want to know how many ostriches died to make her outfit. She was followed by Tunde Baiyewu of the Lighthouse Family, who did a dance of thunderbolt and lightning (very very frightening) looking like an extra from the African version of 'Joseph'. A performance which earned him last place over all (not that I want to ruin the suspense).

Bringing up the rear (literally) was Tessa Sanderson, who performed "a celebration of menfolk returning home" which basically involved getting down on all fours and wiggling her bum. Yes, it's true, the BBC are giving us simulated sex on a Saturday night. Tessa claimed she was using padding to make her bum look bigger (yeah right), before reminding us that "it's not over till the fat lady sings". Prompting Martin Offiah to lie through his teeth and respond "well, you're definitely not fat".

After a 45 minute break, presumably to give viewers enough time to call the BBC duty office and complain, we rejoined the celebs [sic] for the result.

The tension grew with an ensemble rain dance (like we need it in this country), before Robbie Earle was announced as the winner - an outcome about as unexpected as the last general election result.

It was then left to the west end cast of 'The Lion King' to cap this celebration of all things African, with a traditional performance of authentic African music. Written by Elton John.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Pig Out

Happy days. After six weeks of f*cking about and jogging on, Maxwell is finally out of the Big Brother house. And that, dear readers, is off the hook.

In the words of Kemal, "he's a lazy, cheating waste of space, good for nothing thug, beer-drinking, lager-louting, woman-shagging waste of space." Anything else? "And he is a vile pig." Oh yeah, that too.

Not that that's necessarily enough to evict him - some of the finest Big Brother housemates in history have been vile pigs. But Maxwell was always just a little too full of himself, a little too sure of the inevitability of his own success, and having insisted that the boos he heard last week weren't boos for Saskia, they were people booing the fact that she'd been evicted, the man needed taking down a peg or two, as Enid Blyton would have said.

Besides which, there was no way we could afford to lose Kieren. Sorry, I mean Science. The man's a genius, and he knows how to run a chicken under the cold tap. You have to admire someone who'll happily try to piss people off while they're waiting to go and nominate. And the man's obsessed with salad cream. And germs. What more do you want?

In contrast, Maxwell spent his time swinging wildly between vicious thuggery and "absolute fromage" (his words, not mine). Sadly his fromage wasn't particularly frais, and tended to curdle my stomach. So there was really no competition. The Trotter had to go.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Bear Necessities

The thing about reality TV shows is that they're true to life. The thing about the Foreign Legion is that it no longer trains in north Africa, they insist on speaking French, and recruits have to sign up for five years. Put these two things together, and what do you get? 'Escape to the Legion' on Channel 4, a show where 12 volunteers spend a month in Morocco speaking English. It's like Celebrity Love Island, but with fewer bikinis.

On this occasion the dirty dozen are led by Bear Grylls, who sounds like a processed meat product from Canada, but is in fact a former SAS member and conqueror of Everest (the mountain, not the double-glazing company). Bear, who presumably lives in a big blue house and shits in the woods, has selected eleven other recruits from thousands of misguided applicants, all of whom hope to 'find themselves' in the desert, and avoid getting sand between their toes.

They include the likes of Steven, a former drug addict, Will, an ex public school boy (I don't know what's worse), and Dean Gardner (no relation) (I hope), a wedding dress designer from London who also likes to dress up as a woman and call himself Amber Deluxxe. And if you think Bear's a ridiculous name, another of them's called Burf. You have to wonder what these parents are playing at.

The group arrived at the old Moroccan fort they'll be calling home for the next month, and were immediately put to work carrying their duty-free up a big hill. Sergeant Chef (so presumably he can cook) Peter Hauser, who has eighteen years experience in the Foreign Legion, and likes to run double marathons for fun, welcomed them with the words "From this moment, don't think any more". Hey, they're reality TV show contestants - that won't be a problem.

Having been stripped down to their underwear, revealing Bear's rather fetching union jack boxer shorts, the men had their heads shaved, and were instructed to do a few pull-ups before dinner. The corporal, a man for whom modern political correctness clearly means nothing, requested that they do it like men, "not like women, and not like homosexuals". Which put Dean at an immediate disadvantage.

But the thing about the French Foreign Legion is that they know how to break a man. They have at their disposal an array of brutal army techniques designed to grind you down and crush the human spirit. Although sometimes all they need to do is wake you up at 5am. And so it was with Terry Morton, who works at PC World, a job which presumably doesn't require early starts. Having been awoken at dawn on the first morning, Terry dragged himself out of bed and immediately rang the bell outside, indicating that he was quitting the show.

Bear Grylls expressed surprise at Terry's decision, before going on to mention that he'd chosen the man for the programme specifically because "he has a history of never seeing anything through". The word "d'oh" springs to mind.

But no matter. The others pressed on with their punishment of having to climb a sand dune, which according to Bear is "like climbing a wall of treacle". A particularly tough punishment as everyone knows bears prefer honey.

The French Foreign Legion apparently inist that "pain is weakness leaving the body", though after their first meal of stale bread and jam, there was also quite a lot of diarrhoea on display. One of the corporals later commented that "this is good shit", though I'm hoping he meant something else by that.

The programme finished with the final departure of Terry, who filed past his former colleagues whilst commenting that he missed his girlfriend. As Bear himself said, "it's been a long way to come for a haircut". Not that it had been a waste of time for our Tel. The Channel 4 website has published a short interview with the man, in which they ask him "Did you get a sense of achievement from taking part?"

Terry, who'd lasted... oooh at least a couple of hours, and failed to complete so much as one pull-up, answered with a single word:


Monday, July 04, 2005

Going Ga-Ga

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if everyone in the Big Brother house started giving birth at the same time? No, me neither. But ITV obviously have, so they've come up with 'Baby House', a new daytime reality show which started this afternoon, and continues daily for the next two weeks.

Four imminent mums-to-be and their partners have been moved into a luxury mansion in Surrey, where in return for being cared for by experts, and generally pampered, they have to agree to endure Fiona Phillips for a fortnight. Personally I'm not sure it's worth it, and it might explain why only four couples turned up when the TV listings promise six, but nevertheless, the fab four who did sign on the dotted line are:

21 year old Kelly, who makes Jordan look classy, and boyfriend Phil, whose baby was due two days ago. Kelly was only too happy to tell us that their child was conceived "on a drunken night at my auntie's wedding in Blackpool". Which is lovely. She didn't say whether she and Phil had actually known each other at the time, but we'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

They were followed in by Helen and Mark, who met in the armed forces, and whose baby is due on 13th July (so if it's a week late, the series will be over), and Christine & Charlie, who entered the house with the words "where's the mini bar?"

Finally we had single mum Kira and baby Alexa, who was born a few days ago, thus ruining the entire programme. Kira, who would have been equally at home on the Trisha show, explained "I found out I was pregnant in October, told my fiance, and he gave me the choice of an abortion or he was gonna go". So either she went for the latter option, or she should sue the abortion clinic.

Asked to comment on her fellow housemates, Kira stated "they've all got very bubbly personalities". Blimey, stuck in a house with people who are described as 'bubbly'. A natural birth would be less painful.

Fortunately though, Fiona Phillips appeared to be doing her best to dampen down their spirits. Having already told a stressed and bloated Kelly "we can't miss your bump", she proved herself to be tact personified, by announcing that "pregnancy is a costly business" and then turning to Kira, who up until that point had been quite happy cradling her newborn in her arms, and adding "especially for you, because you're bringing up your baby on your own". Fortunately the camera cut away quickly, so we only saw a fleeting glimpse of Kira bursting into tears.

Fiona meanwhile, was turning her attention to Amanda, a woman who had given birth without knowing she was pregnant. Amanda told us that her weight did fluctuate, prompting Fiona to jump in with the comment "I thought you were going to say flatulate then" before calling her husband a "wuss" for crying at the birth. Yes, there was no one that woman couldn't upset.

Having worked her way through the residents of the house, Fiona then confidently moved on to the end of show phone-in, where viewers got to question Dr Miriam Stoppard on all aspects of motherhood. The first question tackled was "is it safe to dye your hair during pregnancy?". Dr Miriam's answer was no, but for those who prefer a less medically qualified opinion, there was always Fiona's, which was "I carried on all the way through mine", her blonde highlights clearly meaning more to her than any potential birth defects.

Hairdressing covered, they moved on to the subject of alcohol. It was another definite no-no from the doctor, which didn't seem to please Fiona very much. She summed up the joys of motherhood with the the words "Give up the hair dye, give up the booze... who'd get pregnant eh?". There speaks a woman who's got her priorities right in life.