[Note: This is one of those updates we’re a bit disappointed with. However, there is quite an interesting bit right at the end, so if you start to get bored, skip along there instead.]
When we started the already fairly pointless process of tracking the word counts of the Wikipedia entries for people taking part in Celebrity Big Brother a few years ago, the pseudo-joke was that by putting the whole thing into a chart it would therefore be rendered comprehensible to men, in essence turning the whole thing into a de facto league table. Back then, CBB was still considered interesting enough for the size of Wikipedia entry for each participant to swell on a daily basis, as their important daily events were added.
This year: well, we’re halfway through the final series of CBB (as marked by an entertaining team talk from Barry Fry), so here’s a chart showing how much of a career highlight it is for those involved:
- In the cases of Vinnie, Sov, Sisqo, Stephen, Stephanie and Heidi, it’s made pretty much no difference.
- Alex, Basshunter and Nicola have seen a marked increase, but mainly because they’d only had modest Wiki-reputations to start with.
- Dane has somehow become less notable since entering the house, which is probably a fair reflection of his time there.
- Katia still doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, but she does now have three whole sentences of her own on the page for Celebrity Big Brother 2010 (UK).
In summary, that’s that sketch buggered, then. So instead, how about a quick look at how celebrity-based versions of Big Brother have done around the world? Have they been anywhere near as popular as the British version once was? Are any of them still popular? And more interestingly, has anyone we’ve heard of taken part in any of them?
WHO WE’D HAVE LIKED TAKE PART: Kylie, Shaun Micallef, Mark Little.
WHO ACTUALLY TOOK PART: Dylan Lewis (TV presenter), Jay Laga-aia (Actor), Kyle Sandilands (Radio host), Sara-Marie Fedele (former contestant on Big Brother Australia), Gabby Milgate (Comedian), Kimberley Cooper (from Home and Away), Adriana Xenides (Ex-quiz hostess), Warwick Capper (Ex-AFL player), Imogen Bailey (Model and singer), Anthony Mundine (Sportsman), Vanessa Wagner (Drag queen), Red Symons (Radio host).
HOW MANY OF THOSE HAVE WE HEARD OF?: Zero from twelve.
HOW MANY OF THOSE DON’T HAVE WIKIPEDIA PAGES?: Two from twelve.
HOW INTERESTING WAS IT?: Well, clearly we can only speculate in this section, but as it was dumped after a single series, probably not interesting enough. However, Warwick Capper was “removed from the house for exposing himself to female housemates”, which is certainly more exciting than Lady Sov only washing her own plate.
WHO WE’D HAVE LIKED TAKE PART: Hristo Stoichkov, Great Uncle Bulgaria From The Wombles.
WHO ACTUALLY TOOK PART:
Series 1: Dicho (singer), Dim Dukov (TV host), Galya "KariZma" (singer), Galya Litova (model), Kiril Vulchev (businesswoman), Konstantin (singer), LiLana (singer), Liubomir Milchev (writer), Mitio (the best Google can come up with is “self-proclaimed sex hedonist”, but that might be about someone else), Raina (singer), Vesela Neynski (singer), Violeta (model) and Danaya (tiny child).
Series 2: Azis (singer), DesiSlava (singer), Hristina (wife of former Big Brother winner), Kalin Velyov (musician), Katerina Evro (actress), Maggi Jelyazkova (model), Niki (husband of Azis), Petya Pavlova (singer), Rosica Noveva (hotel keeper), Tihomir (former Big Brother contestant), Veneta Raykova (TV host), Veselin Danov (ex-politician) and Zdravko (former Big Brother contestant).
Series 3: TWENTY-SEVEN OF ‘EM. Antonia Petrova, Anya Pencheva, Bojidara Bakalova, Dacho, Deo, Emil Koshlukov, Gala, Ico Hazarta, Ivaila Bakalova, Kristiana Vulcheva, Maria Grozdeva, Milko Kalaidjiev, Petya Dikova, Sasha Antunovic, Sofi Marinova, Todor Slavkov, Ustata, Andrey Slabakov, Azis, Diyana Lyubenova, Georgi Mamalev, Kamelia, Lyubo Ganev, Preslava, Rumen Lukanov and Teodora Stefanova. We're going to guess they're all singers and former Big Brother contestants.
HOW MANY OF THOSE HAVE WE HEARD OF?: Of the fifty-two people involved, er, zero.
HOW MANY OF THOSE DON’T HAVE WIKIPEDIA PAGES?: It’s easier to point out those that do. Of those with pages on the English language version of Wikipedia, five of the people in that list have their own page, one of whom – Sasha Antunovic is a Serbian footballer, so we might have seen him in Football Manager. Which is, y’know, something.
HOW INTERESTING WAS IT?: Interesting enough to last for three series, and enough for the third series to see a huge number of participants (though nine of them are listed as ‘guest housemates’). The third series saw appearances from Rumen Lukanov, host of the Bulgarian version of Deal Or No Deal, and Teodora Stefanova, who is Silvio Berlusconi’s personal astrologer, and who you’ve have thought could have warned the Italian premier about, well, you know. The clip we’ve seen of the show on YouTube reveals their house is almost exactly the same as the Celebrity Big Brother house generally is over here.
WHO WE’D HAVE LIKED TAKE PART: Igor Biscan, former Liverpool FC midfielder and unintentional comedian.
WHO ACTUALLY TOOK PART: People called Danijela, Marina, Iva, Ivica, Neven, Marko, Salome, and Sandi.
HOW MANY OF THOSE HAVE WE HEARD OF?: Zero from eight, though as we don’t know their last names, we might be missing out.
HOW MANY OF THOSE DON’T HAVE WIKIPEDIA PAGES?: All of them, as far as we can tell.
HOW INTERESTING WAS IT?: So unpopular it finished a week early. Presumably they didn’t just switch the cameras off and leave the remaining contestants to fend for themselves for the last seven days, though doing so might have been fun.
WHO WE’D HAVE LIKED TAKE PART: Shilpa Shetty from Celebrity Big Brother UK 6, the two hosts from excellent Indian World Cup 2006 preview show lighted based on Fantasy Football Duniya Goal Hai, Samantha Fox (who of course used to be really famous in India).
WHO ACTUALLY TOOK PART: In India, there isn’t really a ‘non-celeb’ version of Big Brother, just this which combines famous people and ‘regular’ people (or, as the producers of the show have it, ‘newsmakers’).
Series 1: Rahul Roy, Carol Gracias, Ravi Kissen, Rakhi Sawant , Amit Sadh, Roopali Ganguly, Baba Sehgal, Ragini Shetty, Deepak Tijori, Anupama Verma, Aryan Vaid, Kashmira Shah, Deepak Parashar, Bobby Darling and Salil Ankola. No info on what each of them does on the Wiki page.
Series 2 (hosted by Shilpa Shetty, of course): Ahsaan Qureshi (stand-up comedian), Alina Wadiwala (non-celebrity), Ashutosh Kaushik (Reality show winner), Debojit Saha (singer, Diana Hayden (former Miss World), Jade Goody (former Big Brother UK contestant), Ketaki Dave (actress), Monica Bedi (actress and ex-wife of underworld don Abu Salem), Payal Rohatgi (actress), Rahul Mahajan (son of politician Pramod Mahajan, Raja Choudhary (ex-husband of actress Shweta Tiwari), Sambhavana Seth (dancer), Sanjay Nirupam (politician), Zulfi Syed (actor and model).
Series 3: Vindu Dara Singh (actor), Poonam Dhillon (actress), Ismail Darbar (musician), Sherlyn Chopra (model, singer and actress), Kamal Rashid Khan (actor and writer), Bhakhtiyaar M Irani (actor), Tanaaz B Irani (actress), Aditi Govitrikar (model, actress and physician), Jaya Sawant (mother of Bollywood actress Jaya Sawant), Shamita Shetty (actress, and sister of CBB6 (UK) winner Shilpa), Claudia Ciesla (German model), Rohit Verma (Fashion Designer), Raju Srivastav (comedian), Vinod Kambli (model), Pravesh Rana (former cricketer).
HOW MANY OF THOSE HAVE WE HEARD OF?: One of them, and we’ve heard of the sister of another one of them, and the host of the second series, so there’s something. Mind you, those last two are both the same person.
HOW MANY OF THOSE DON’T HAVE WIKIPEDIA PAGES?: Very few – we can’t tell for the first series, but from the second and third only Sambhavana Seth and Jaya Sawant don’t have their own page.
HOW INTERESTING WAS IT?: Aside from the events surrounding Jade, rather interesting indeed. In series one, contestant Salil was ordered by the Mumbai High Court to leave the house or face criminal charges, as his contract with Balaji Telefilms prevented him from participating in shows made by other production houses. Later in the series, evicted housemate Kashmira was allowed back into the house, but had to live there without any of the other housemates actually noticing, which we imagine would have been fun. Near the end of series two, after complaints about measly food rations, the remaining housemates escaped from the house en masse, resulting in plenty of pleading from producers before they all returned. For series three, a live bear was introduced to the house for the entire second half of the series (a lie. Nothing exciting seems to have happened in series three).
FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLICS (“Veiliki Brat VIP”)
WHO WE’D HAVE LIKED TAKE PART: Anyone we’ve heard of. We’re regretting all this now. We’ve have hoped Bob Carolgees might have popped up on Celebrity Big Brother New Zealand or something, but most countries likely to have played host to esoteric figures from British light entertainment have selfishly neglected to have Celebrity versions of their Big Brothers. Way to ruin our fun, The Commonwealth. Come on, give us a footballer we’ve heard of, and we can draw a line under all of this.
WHO ACTUALLY TOOK PART: Marta Keler (Actress), Peda D'Boy (Pop singer), Olja Karleuša (Folk singer), Saša Curcic (Retired footballer), Danijela Vranješ (Actress), Big Lale (Illusionist), Emina Hamzabegovic (Model), Danijel Alibabic (Pop singer), Goga Sekulic (Folk singer), Ognjen Ivanovic (Model), Zorica Jocic Šujica (Painter), Dragan "Maca" Marinkovic (Actor), Aleksandar Jovanovic (Journalist).
HOW MANY OF THOSE HAVE WE HEARD OF?: One! Saša Curcic used to play for Bolton, Villa and Palace, of course. And he won it, so good for him.
HOW MANY OF THOSE DON’T HAVE WIKIPEDIA PAGES?: Marta, Danijela, Big, Emina, Ognjen and Zorica all have the dreaded Wikipedia red links.
HOW INTERESTING WAS IT?: Probably about as interesting as this update has turned out to be (i.e. not very).
SO, WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
Well, it’s that the Celebrity Big Brother format hasn’t really taken off anywhere, with the possible exception of India. Going by Wikipedia’s page on the show around the world, Big Brother is popular in almost 70 countries, yet just over a quarter of them have spawned celebrity spin-offs. Even then, very few have lasted for longer than a single series.
In a way, we should probably have looked at the format in general around the world, which would have given us a reason to look into the tale of Big Brother Arabia. This was a 2004 version of the show, filmed in Bahrain and broadcast throughout the Arab world. After a barrage of complaints over the show featuring six men and six women living together in one area – despite them only being able to meet in the kitchen and garden – the plug was pulled after just eleven days, before the first eviction could even take place. This led to the show producers having to enter the house in order to interrupt proceedings, and tell the housemates that the jig was effectively up.
There’s a Dutch documentary from 2004 about the launch and subsequent cancellation of Big Brother Arabia that can be watched here (click on the ‘Video’ links on the right). Most of the dialogue is in English, and from what we’ve seen so far makes for an interesting tale on modern and traditional values clashing in the increasingly puritanical Arab world. For the most part, the Big Brother show itself is done very respectfully and in keeping with traditional Arabic values – most of the time the sexes are kept apart, the cameras viewing the women-only parts of the house were monitored by female camera operators only, there were separate prayer rooms and a call to prayer was announced five times per day. There was even an appropriately Arabic tinge given to the remix of Paul Oakenfold’s BBUK theme tune used to open the show.
The announcement itself comes as a peaceful protest forms outside the Big Brother house, with the contestants initially excited at what they think is a new exciting twist. As the realisation dawns that their fame is to be very short-lived, faces drop, and the Big Brother house is emptied.