STEVEN DOWNES watches the reality TV show, so you don’t have to
DAY ONE in the Big Bruvva house…
And so the 17th celebrity season of Big Brother gets underway tonight, from 9pm on Channel 5 with, it is fair to say, a contestant from south London like no other in the history of the programme.
And even before a minute’s coverage had been aired live, the man who has lost even more elections than he ever did fights in the boxing ring, is already in trouble with feminists for his sexist remarks and with the gay community because of his position as an “adamant homophobe”, as he has been described today by a gay news site.
It should make for some interesting small talk in the small hours when foot-in-the-mouth McKenzie encounters his fellow housemates Nancy Dell’Olio and John Partridge. Which must be exactly what the producers want.
The low-grade celebrity status of most of the housemates – with some, including McKenzie, not even worthy of the Z list – has been demonstrated by the description given by the Torygraph to Dell’Olio: “Ex-lawyer, ex-Strictly contestant and ex-girlfriend of ex-England manager Sven Göran-Eriksson – basically an ex-celebrity.” Meouw.
But McKenzie enters the house tonight having already declared that he “might not be able to control myself” (no change there then) if he encounters Dell’Olio.
“If Nancy Dell’Olio is in the house, well, I might not be able to control myself. Anything is likely to happen,” he told the Croydon Guardian. “She is hot, mate. She is hot. I like her. It would be nice to get to know someone like that. She’s a nice lady.”
Dell’Olio is also perfectly capable of handling old creeps. Winston McKenzie is 62.
And McKenzie, a man who as a political candidate once managed to receive fewer votes than someone who was not even standing in the election, is likely to struggle for votes from the gay community, as they remember his bigoted remarks regarding same sex adoption, which he has described as “child abuse”.
Partridge is the openly gay actor, best known for his role as Christian in EastEnders, and like Dell’Olio, very capable of speaking his mind if the occasion requires it.
The bookmakers have McKenzie as the out-and-out outsider of the 16 contestants, offering a best-price 33/1 on the failed politician’s chances of actually winning a vote. His track record as a serial loser, most recently for UKIP, suggests that the bookies are not being overly generous with their price.
If they offered odds on who will be the first to leave the CBB house, McKenzie would probably be odds-on favourite.
As the official London Mayor candidate for the English Democrats – the seventh political party for which he has stood – McKenzie does, at least, realise what he can get out of putting himself in the TV spotlight, potentially for four weeks.
“It is a good opportunity to get exposure and what have you,” he said.
8.55pm: Before we switch over from the football, we notice the website of the Daily Express, which is owned by UKIP donor Richard Desmond, who until recently was also the owner of Channel 5, was offering “everything you need to know about Winston McKenzie”, which includes the claim that he was once a member of the Labour Party, something which the old boxer has always denied. Oh well…
But they also write: “Celebrity Big Brother bosses have excelled themselves this year…” are you sure? “… with the most volatile line-up to date, and one housemate who’s bound to ruffle more than a few feathers”. At least they might have got that bit right.
9.10pm: And the battlelines are drawn when John Partridge is revealed as the second housemate. What, he is asked in his pre-recorded profile, will he object to most strongly in the house? Why, a homophobic housemate, he says. “Oops, that would be awkward,” he says, as if to script. Has Winston taken on more than he can cope with?
9.22pm: No sign of our Winston yet, but some gobby woman outside is telling us that “The house has had a makeover.” If anything, it looks a bit like the inside of Little Bay restaurant in South Croydon. Might make Winston feel at home.
On to the fourth housemate now. Between them, if you were do some sort of CBB venn diagram, it would show that the first four comprise two ex-Eastenders, two non-celebs who were reality TV show contestants, and two gay men. Has Winston been set-up as the villain of the piece?
“It’s all panto,” says Christopher Maloney. Oh no it isn’t…
9.28pm: Someone else is in the house now, a New Yorker called Tiffany, who is loud and apparently enjoys trying to be thoroughly obnoxious. I’m sure some of the baying mob shouted, “Who are you?”, so the obscurity of the celebrities parading in front of us may not be just down to me.
“You’re gonna have to boo louder than that, y’all,” Tiffany challenges the crowd. Winston might not be the first one out after all.
9.46pm: Two more enter the house, none of them Winston, to resounding booing from the live audience. Neither seem popular, or very nice. Is this a CBB thing?
9.47pm: And Winston McKenzie enters the house on a lie.
“I’m an ex-champion boxer,” he says, which is demonstrably untrue. Winston McKenxzie never won a professional boxing title. His unimpressive fight record can be seen here.
Winston wasn’t even the best boxer in his own family, though Clinton and Duke were both a bit special. Is he playing on their credibility?
It sounds very much as if the Chump from the Dump got the worst reception from the baying crowd, with boos and shouts of “Out! Out!” coming at Croydon’s charmless chancer.
The crowd may well be reacting to some of McKenzie’s immodest descriptions of himself in his profile video, in which he claimed to be a motivational speaker (South London steel bands a speciality, eh, Winston?), and “flamboyant, flash… I’m the second coming”. McKenzie said, “Man, I could even wake up the dead.”
Asked how he might “cope” if there are homosexuals as housemates, and the unreconstructed bigot said, “I guess I just have to be standing against a brick wall all the time.” Classy, eh? No wonder the crowd took against him.
This could be a long few days for Winston McKenzie.
10.05pm: During his pre-entry live interview, Winston cops a deaf ‘un. It’s been noted that he has done this in the past, during candidate interviews. Then, it seemed to be his technique to avoid awkward questions. This time, the sad old bloke seems genuinely mutton.
Once in the house, McKenzie swerves the first CBB trial, and irony of ironies, all thanks to a gay man.
The first eight internees are summoned to a table by Big Brother and told that one of them must choose two of their new mates to go and live in a box, with no possessions or luxuries. Partridge steps forward to choose, and makes the ultimate sacrifice by nominating himself. Bless. Hope Winston appreciates the gesture.
Then, saving Partridge an invidious decision, Darren Day (“I’m fuckin’ scared, me”) volunteers to join him. Cue inevitable box joke.
Safely locked away in said box, Partridge and Day are then asked to nominate three housemates to have their suitcases locked away. They pick McKenzie. “He’s a bloke. He can take it,” is the reasoning. Ha!
10.19pm: Never let it be said that this website is not broad-ranging when it comes to seeking the views of others. I give you: Katie Hopkins.
“An ex-UKIP homophobe. Ladies and Gentleman, the barrel has been scraped. As thick as he is deaf,” La Hopkins has said on Twitter. For once, she has a point. She also dislikes the faux leopard print Crombie he’s wearing: “Dressed as an utter prick”. True, true.
10.40pm: We’re nearly there. But it has taken a while. People have run 26.2-mile marathons in less time (almost) than it’s taking for this parade of misfits and ne’er do wells. Though it hasn’t taken as long as Corbyn’s re-shuffle, so we should be grateful for small mercies.
A quick check shows there are other views on Twitter of our Winston, too. “He’s out of his depth,” says one, while another suggests that his outfit is sufficiently camp that we can expect him to come out as gay while in the house… Hmm. Unconvinced.
Shots of the housemates show McKenzie to be a fast mover, having got to grips, literally, with a young woman called Megan McKenna, young enough to be his grand-daughter. McKenna is another to have been plucked from the obscurity of a reality TV show to appear on this reality TV show. “I’m the one who screamed all the time,” she said earlier, without elaboration.
But now here comes Nancy.
Will McKenzie be able to control himself?
10.50pm: The final twist of the night… Falls flat. The boxsters are offered the option of them getting luxury food and booze, and locking the kitchen to the 14 other housemates, or to take a diet of gruel. Day and Partridge opt to do the very decent thing. Much to the relief of their new mates, including the Chump from the Dump.
Hope he appreciates it.
And that, as the champagne starts flowing in the house, is that for the opening night. Believe me, it wasn’t worth it.
- Still Croydon’s only independent news source, and based in the heart of the borough: 1.97 million page views 2013-2015
- Inside Croydon: Named among best regional media campaigns, 2014
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event to publicise, please email us with full details at firstname.lastname@example.org