- The Guardian, Saturday 25 July 2009
As Big Brother (9pm, daily, C4) stumbles around like a reanimated corpse looking for a cliff to throw itself off, producers desperately try to steer it back onto the righteous path. Like an adrenaline shot into a flatlining King of Pop, five new housemates were injected into the Big Brother house last Friday in a brave but ultimately futile attempt to prolong interest in the franchise.
Still, viewers switched on in their hundreds for the entrance of a man like Kenneth, a self-styled international playboy whose hobbies include repeatedly misusing the phrase "per se" and dating Karly (a weird crossbreeding of Sarah Harding and Mary Doll Nesbitt), who was evicted on the night of his entrance. Quickly coming to terms with his girlfriend's exit, Kenneth said of walking boob job Sophie "Her taking my cock doesn't mean she'll get access to my bank account"- a noble sentiment any international playboy would endorse. He quotes Sun Tzu's Art Of War in the diary room, the favoured philosophical text of the illiterate and incarcerated.
But even Sun Tzu could not have foreseen Big Brother's devilish secret mission for the newbies. They had to somehow ensure that Noirin and Freddie were nominated for eviction or face the public vote themselves. The main turmoil of the task, though, was felt by Big Brother, who had to explain it to new entrant Hira, a kind of Bollywood Barbie, a fabulous creature as beautiful and stupid as a dress made from fire.
Hira is married to a relative, and hurtful rumours that her parents were similarly related were hard to dispel as she struggled to comprehend the repeated explanations of an exasperated Big Brother on Friday's live show. To be fair, Hira's lieutenants in the task weren't up to much. There's Bea, a Bristolian recruitment consultant on her own private mission to channel Joss Stone and get evicted as soon as possible.
"I take lots of risks with my feet," she told lovestruck Tory boy and the current bookies' favourite Freddie. "Yeah man, rock'n'roll!" he responded. Yes Freddie, it's just like Hammer Of The Gods in this mother.
Then we had Yorkshire bingo enthusiast, David - a Frankenstein's monster composed of every existing gay stereotype. In real life, David is a Recycled Clothing Sorter which sounds like the kind of job they give out to rehabilitate child molesters or the criminally insane. Not David, though. He goes to the bingo twice a week with t'pensioners. He's ace.
And so's Tom, a chartered surveyor who looks great for 39 - too bad he's 27. All lantern jaw, washboard abs and 3% body fat, Tom was parachuted in to be a love interest for house femme fatale Noirin and rattle the cage of the hapless Marcus (think "Wolverine: The Doughnut Years"). "He's a wanker," Marcus offered helpfully, assessing his rival after a few hours. "He's pissing on his territory like what a dog does." Having fallen for Big Brother's ploy, Marcus now cuts a pathetic figure, cock-blocking Tom and Noirin at every turn, like some twisted reverse Cupid.
Pity the poor Noirin. Between Sree and Marcus, this ballsy teeth-and-tits dame has endured the most persistent unwelcome male attention since 2005 winner Anthony was pursued by pie-faced hair apocalypse Craig; horrifying scenes which played out like a live action Pepé Le Pew cartoon. Noirin is painted as a modern-day Jezebel who, scriptures tell us, was thrown from a window and eaten by dogs. By the end of this series, Noirin might pray for such a quick exit.
A swift exit would suit everyone right now, in fact. As the walking corpse lurches its way to the cliff's edge, all we want is closure and a happy ending. Kenneth marries Karly, Tom marries Noirin, Marcus Bentley does voiceovers for tampon adverts and the sorry atrocity we call Big Brother is pushed over television's Beachy Head, the kind of assisted suicide we could all get behind. Reclaiming the summer could never be more fun.