Monday, 23 January 2012

Going weak at Denise

Although the producers of Celebrity Big Brother like to fill the house with attractive young hardbodies, it's actually the middle-aged contestants who give the show its curious car-crash appeal. We all remember Vanessa Feltz's descent into madness, scrawling on the shopping list board like a demented medium. Likewise, Les Dennis decided that a 24-7 reality show was the best place to have a nervous breakdown in the wake of his failed marriage. And we all tuned in to see how far he'd fall.

So we probably shouldn't be surprised that this year's real star has been Denise Welch, a woman who seems to have spent most of her career living it large, like a Priory outpatient. Since she's been in the house she's provided more entertainment than the rest of the girls put together, largely by acting like the overly refreshed mother-in-law at a Geordie hen night.

Along the way, all this self-consciously extroverted "I'm mad, me" behaviour has begun to grate on the other housemates, not least Michael Madsen. After two weeks of being stuck in the middle with her, he looked as though he was ready to tie her to a chair and cut her ears off. I wonder if Ladbrokes are offering odds on that being the next secret task.

Despite regular work in shows like Soldier Soldier and Coronation Street, Denise is most famous for her larger-than-life persona - a role she's managed to cement by painting herself as the slackest of all the Loose Women. She might like to think of herself as a carefree hell-raiser, but her fragile ego suggests that maybe Michael had a point when he labelled her "emotionally disturbed."

It's likely that Denise might even have mistaken their early bickering as mildly flirtatious, but by now, it's clear that there'll be precious few Christmas cards winging their way across the Atlantic come December. And after a drunken attempt to draw the twins into her "Wahey, look at my tits" world, a major barney erupted that'll probably result in a few other housemates jostling with Michael for a go with his straight razor.

The seeds were sown earlier in the day, when Frankie Cocozza took part in a spelling contest. To be honest, he was an unfortunate choice for this task, given that he'd struggle with STD. At one point, he tried to spell 'hierarchy' as Hiararki', presumably because he thought it was just up the coast from where he used to work as a holiday rep. Fair play though, he spelled 'reproduction' correctly, so at least all that practice paid off in the end. Sadly, every time he got a word wrong, the housemates got a shock. Once the task was complete, Nicola accused Denise of lying about her buzzer working, on account of the fact that she wasn't screaming like the others. Denise responded by saying she's learned to enjoy the sensation of electric shocks, because she's had Slendertone on her belly and thighs. It's a miracle she doesn't have hair like Elsa Lanchester.

Later on, as the housemates celebrated with alcohol, Big Brother tried to liven things up by piping Girls Just Wanna Have Fun into the house. Several bottles of wine into the evening, it didn't take long for Denise's top to get lifted - but she made the mistake of trying to whip down Karissa's pajama bottoms. And that's when all hell broke loose. Karissa stormed off to the diary room and threatened to sue Big Brother, Nicola attempted to play peacemaker by attacking everyone, and Frankie actually seemed like the most reasonable person in the house. Fuck the four horsemen, that's a true sign of the apocalypse. Feeling attacked from all sides, Denise turned on Nicola and brought up their previous dispute.

There's no point rehashing all the accusations that were made, because it was all as predictably incoherent as a bunch of drunk 15 year-old girls crying on the swings outside a youth centre. Interestingly, Karissa did repeatedly make the point that she's a really reserved person and "doesn't walk around flashing her tits". Despite how it's portrayed in films, the Playboy Mansion is more like an orphanage for pneumatic blondes in their early twenties. And Hugh Hefner is just a benevolent modern-day Daddy Warbucks, rather than a permanently priapic pensioner in a dog-eared dressing gown.

Denise tried to point out their double standards about nudity, to which the girls responded by saying that they don't make their living getting naked, they just did the one photoshoot. Of course, this is all moral relativism - the real issue was simply that Denise shouldn't have whipped Karissa's pants down. But by the time Nicola weighed in, telling Big Brother "I'm a secret feminist. I might have got my boobs out, but that's my choice," Germaine Greer must have been kicking herself for choosing the wrong year to take part.

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