Monday, 7 June 2010

Big Gay Monday: Big Brother.

The last ever series of Big Brother makes its UK television debut on Wednesday night on Channel 4, and a host of homosexuals across the country lay down their heads and mourn. In all the excitement and celebrations associated with Big Brother, I personally- as an enormous fan of the show- can't shake off the sadness surrounding the fact this series is to be the last. Practically everyone you meet has some sort of opinion on Big Brother, it has arguably revolutionised TV. And so, this Big Gay Monday, let's look back over my personal Top 10 housemates of the last ten years...

10. Lisa (BB9)

Lisa entered as part of a couple in the ninth series of Big Brother with her boyfriend Mario (real name Shaun). Immediately she was thrown in the deep end as her boyfriend was made to participate in a task pretending to be engaged to another housemate who he would then have to marry in what the housemates, including Lisa, were made to believe was a real wedding. Lisa stayed calm throughout this whole task, watching what she believed was her boyfriend marrying another woman despite admitting she was desperate for him to pop the question to her.

When she was allowed to reveal herself as Mario's (Shaun's) true girlfriend, that's when Lisa unveiled herself as a game lass up for anything. Her laugh was infectious and she even had a bit of a Britney-esque breakdown when she smashed open a fire escape because she was so sick of life in the house. Lisa's craic was amazing with or without Mario, she really was a tip-top housemate and it's no co-incidence she received the best reception from the crowd that series after her eviction. Moreover, she also had one of the most fantastic pairs of breasts that have ever graced the Big Brother house. Get a look:

What a cracking pair.

9. Dale/Anthony/Stuart (BB9/BB6/BB9)

special mention also goes to Stuart (BB5) and Mikey (BB7)

Let's pause for a minute and reflect upon the summer's worth of wank-fodder we'll be missing out on when Big Brother leaves our screens as we raise a toast to the really fit housemates who added nothing to the Big Brother experience but were nice to look at for a while. We all know I'm a bit of a sucker for a pretty boy, and Dale Howard was the epitome of pretty boys in Big Brother 2008, along with love rival Stuart Pilkington. And then there was Anthony Hutton who I once met in Tup-Tup Palace on my prom night thanks to my friend Brogan. "That stupid Makosi bitch..." I drunkenly started telling him, before realising I had no way of finishing that sentence. I tell you something, though, he must be a nice lad because he put his arm around me even though I stank of sick that night.

These fit, but essentially pointless, housemates can always be counted on to whip their kit off in the name of their 15 minutes of fame, which it would be criminal to ignore, so let's have a gander shall we:

Excuse me I just have to...yeah...

8. Alison (BB3)

Big Brother 3 was largely dominated by the antics of a then unknown Jade Goody (who, unfortunately, would meet a sad end just seven years later), but my favourite moment of the entire series came when eventual winner Kate Lawler and Alison were seen jumping on a table to try and see out into the outside world, only for Alison to break the table and the two to fall about laughing.

This clip basically summed up Alison's short time in the house, she made the most out of shitty situations and brought a fun side to the series. Of all the housemates of the last ten years, I would say it was Alison who didn't get to shine to her full potential due to being evicted too early. Thankfully for her, though not surprisingly, she has made a successful career for herself post-Big Brother presenting on This Morning. So it worked out alright really, didn't it?

7. Brian (BB2)

I was only 10 in the summer of 2001 when the second series of Big Brother aired, and I did not know any gay people. My parents didn't have any gay friends, and there was nobody gay in my family. Brian Dowling was the first gay man that I spent any real time with, as he entered my living room every night via the TV and captured the hearts of my sister and I (I mean this in a metaphorical sense, rather than like something from The Ring.)

Brian brought homosexuality into the mainstream in a non-threatening way. He didn't do it with parades or leather clubs or glitter or anything like that; he did it just by being himself. By the second series Big Brother really was captivating the nation and Brian played a big part in the introduction of homosexuality to "normal" British 21st century society. And, of course, he did it completely unknowingly. He was a young lad just being his own person in a time when Big Brother was more than just a quick way of getting into Heat magazine and less than a phenomenon it was to become. And it's obvious that, in the days when Big Brother wasn't full of fake hair, fake tan and fake tits, winning really meant a lot to Brian:


6. Glyn (BB7)

I had an enormous crush on Glyn when Big Brother 7 was airing; looking at that photo I have absolutely no idea why. He was, undoubtedly, a fantastic housemate and the real winner of the seventh series because if there's one thing the public loves its contestants who genuinely go on a journey. When he started the series he was a young lad from the Welsh valleys who'd never really seen the world before, he famously didn't even know how to boil an egg. Suddenly he was shacked up with Lea Walker and three different gay men, something he'd never experienced before. I thought he was a genuinely sweet lad, and will always look fondly on his "cooking an egg for the very first time" song. He also got out of the house and did this:

Which was lovely when I was 16, but looking back is actually quite cringey. Dear me.

5. Helen (BB2)

Another Welsh wonder was Big Brother 2's Helen Adams. Helen was loveable for a number of reasons. For one thing, she wasn't a larger-than-life, eccentric, out of this world character. You could go to Tiger Tiger on a Friday night and see one hundred Helens. They'd be the ones apologising if they stepped on your toes, or giggling after one two many gin and tonics. There was nothing not typical about Helen, but that didn't stop her being a totally likeable character.

Helen was known more than anything for her ditziness (which eventually paved the way for super housemate Jade Goody) which made her a really endearing housemate to watch every night. There was nothing forced about her docile nature (unlike later housemates such as Sophie Reade or Emma Greenwood who were both accused of exploiting their naivety and lack of common sense to appear vulnerable and get attention) which made her a really charming contestant.

She was also involved in the first ever Big Brother romance with fellow housemate Paul Clarke. Keep in mind this came long before the disasters of Maxwell and Saskia, Chanelle and Ziggy or even Nikki and Pete, theirs was a gorgeous love story which lasted long after the series ended and while it ended up not working out, this always makes for a pleasant viewing:


4. Marco (BB5)

I am a flamboyant young man, it cannot be denied, and flamboyant young men are born and not made. What I mean by this is that I did not get to be this way overnight. I have been the tornado of glitter and colour and noise that I am tonight for a long time, and while it has helped me establish likeminded friends in my later years, it didn't make me quite so popular when I was younger.

Marco Sabba entered the Big Brother house when I was 13, and I was being picked on quite badly. Suffice to say I was really unhappy at the time. I absolutely did not fit in and there was not a thing I could do about it. I wasn't being picked on because of my hair or my clothes or the music I listened to or anything like that I could hide or change to make my life easier, I was being picked on because of who I was. I honestly thought there was nothing I could do about it all, and this was going to be my life for the rest of my days. I feared that as a flamboyant, gay man (I wasn't technically "out" at this point but was almost certain in myself that I was gay) I was never going to be taken seriously and my lot in life was forever going to be taking abuse from people who didn't know anything about me other than that I was different to them.

I have to be honest with you, as ridiculous as it sounds it gave me so much more confidence to see Marco running around on TV enjoying himself. He and his fellow "lip gloss bitches" were completely shallow, utterly childish and totally bitchy. But they were happy. And I was comforted by this. I knew in my heart that I was one of them, I wanted to be a "lip gloss bitch". And so rather than going on about what a fun housemate Marco was (which he was) and how as a law student and an ex-Samaritan he was so more much more than just a mincer on the telly (which, again, he was), I'd rather tell you about how Marco helped me feel better about myself. His smiling face on the TV helped me believe that one day I could be happy in myself too. And I'm thankful for that, because I did get through it a stronger person and while I'm not going to put it all on a reality TV show, I'd just like to say my piece in favour of having positive gay role models on TV for young teens to see.

3. Nikki (BB7)

Of course, what Big Brother countdown would be complete without Nikki Grahame? Infuriating, hilarious, annoying, charming, immature, endearing Nikki. I hate hate hate this cliché but the thing with Nikki was that you literally either did love her or hate her. And I absolutely loved her. Her legendary rants are now the stuff of priceless Big Brother history and even if she entered the house dressed as a Playboy bunny and claimed all she wanted was to marry a footballer so she could spend his money, there was still a certain child-like naivety to Nikki that was totally endearing to watch.

Either way I could talk and talk about her forever but why bother when you can watch her here (unfortunately her most popular Diary Room rants such as her ulcer, mp3 player and "who is she??" speech are not on YouTube):

2. Shabnam (BB8)


1. Nadia (BB5)

I love Nadia. When Nadia entered the Big Brother house in 2004, nobody thought she'd go on to win. It seemed she was something of a gimmick, she'd been chosen for the house because she was actually born a man and that was all there was to her. Nadia went against that, though. All she'd ever wanted out of her life was to be taken seriously as a woman, so she decided not to tell her fellow housemates about her past, and let them believe she was born a woman. A smart move, because the public slowly began to see Nadia as more than just a transsexual, they started to see her as a human being and, indeed, as a woman. This is why shows like Big Brother, and contestants like Nadia and the previously mentioned Brian and Marco, are so important for the LGBT community. They were helping us be taken seriously as human beings, helping people to see through labels to the people underneath, helping people who'd never have got the chance to see both sides of the story with issues like homosexuality and transsexualism grow comfortable with us as a community.

All politics aside, Nadia was just an amazing housemate. She showered in her heels, and demanded extra rations of cigarettes. When she smoked her emergency rations she demanded more. Big Brother 5 eventually became The Nadia Show, and rightly so because the woman was a scream. I will never forget watching the moment she found out she was the winner; the sheer delight and excitement and disbelief on her face was just gorgeous to watch:

Beautiful stuff.

And so, as the final series of Big Brother rears its head we can look back and say it was trashy, it gave false ideas of fame to undeserving people, it preyed upon the emotionally weak or vulnerable. But look at Nadia's face in that picture above and tell me that it wasn't all worth it. Go on. I dare you.


  1. I was WAITING for this post! :DD I absolutely adore Nadia too for all the same reasons. "Look at me - YOU THIS THIS IS FUNNY?" is one of my all time favourite BB moments. (

    I've always loved Brian too, I remember him saying he only came out to his family a few days before going into the house. I always thought it was interesting how he bickered so much with Josh - seemingly just because he was also gay.

    I'm so glad you didn't include Jade. It's such a tragedy what happened to her, but she was the face of the show which favoured the idiotic (a trend which followed in subsequent series). In the words of Graham Norton "Helen could cut hair, Jade can't do ANYTHING!"

    But you know we could talk all day about BB :) xxx

  2. Oooh I forgot to mention Brian/Josh which was so representative of what goes on in the land of Gaydom.

    And I didnt ever really care for Jade, I think despite her tragic end she really was awful on CBB7 so thats where her place was

    Hope the inclusion of Shabnam made you smile :p xx