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'Celebrity Big Brother's headline acts are big money gambles for ITV'

ITV has blown the budget on stars like Sharon Osbourne, Louis Walsh and Gary Goldmsith, but will the show get value for money?

ITV has splashed the cash on some big name signings for Celebrity Big Brother (ITV)
ITV has splashed the cash on some big name signings for Celebrity Big Brother (ITV)

Opening night at the Celebrity Big Brother house, and I was already thinking the producers had missed a trick.

They could easily have given the viewers what they wanted by sending in The Unknown from Glasgow’s Willy Wonka Experience. Instead they sent in several unknowns from random TV programmes you may have heard of, but probably never watched.

Of course, that glaring lack of showbiz sparkle doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a disastrous return to the big time for the best reality show of all time.

I was delighted and excited to see it back for the first time in six years, although not as delighted and excited as its hosts AJ Odudu and Will Best.

I guess we could put their chaotic and shouty performance down to first night nerves, but it did feel like they’d watched a whole series of Get In!! — that awful late night 90s show Dexter Mayhew hosted in Netflix’s One Day — and decided that was exactly the energy they needed to go for.

AJ Adudu and Will Best introduced the housemates on opening night including Broadway star Marisha Wallace. (ITV/Shutterstock)
AJ Adudu and Will Best introduced the housemates on opening night including Broadway star Marisha Wallace. (ITV/Shutterstock)

This year’s guest list did kind of confirm AJ’s suggestion to Will that it was going to be just like ordinary Big Brother, but with the word celebrity sneakily placed in front of everything. Admittedly, ITV did throw some household names in there, to save us spending the whole ninety minutes bashing away on Wikipedia.

Unfortunately, unless we quickly receive evidence to the contrary, I’m putting the so-called headline acts down as big money gambles.

Because if the producers splashed out on Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh in the hope that they would spill the beans on Simon Cowell and all the behind-the-scenes shenanigans on The X Factor, I’m afraid ITV’s lawyers may have other ideas and take an interest.

If they made Fern Britton an offer she couldn’t refuse in the hope that she’d spill the beans on her former This Morning co-host Phillip Schofield then, again, ITV’s lawyers may have other ideas and take an interest.

Catherine Middleton's uncle Gary Goldsmith is one of the housemates in Celebrity Big Brother 2024. (ITV)
Catherine Middleton's uncle Gary Goldsmith is one of the housemates in Celebrity Big Brother 2024. (ITV)

And if they booked Kate Middleton’s uncle Gary Goldsmith in the hope that he’d spill the beans on The Royal Family, then the Buckingham Palace lawyers may have other ideas and take an interest.

Then again, we might get lucky. The person in charge of the birdsong button on the live feed on ITVX might nod off for half an hour one night.

To be fair, it looks like Goldsmith may have already delivered ITV some controversy. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with the royal family and everything to do with angry people wondering why ITV is giving money and screen time to a convicted domestic abuser.

We’ll have to see how that one plays out for ITV’s pot-stirrers, but if it does blow up in their innocent faces I’ll have a few rounds of “serves you right” please, barman.

Uncle Gary appears to be a bit of a character, for sure. He’s not averse to referring to himself in the third person, and he actually had me spitting my tea out as he introduced himself to the nation.

“Celebrity Big Brother is the one show I said I would never do,” he grandly announced, as if he’s spent the past few years batting away big money offers from top tier giants such as Strictly Come Dancing and I’m A Celebrity, rather than take-it-or-leave-it emails from the likes of Who’s Doing The Dishes? or Celebrity Naked Attraction.

Gratifyingly, when Louis and Sharon were given a secret mission in which they had to pick the three housemates who’d made the worst first impression, they instantly placed Goldsmith on that list — and duly left him at risk of nomination for the first eviction on Friday.

Presumably, Louis had taken one look at Goldsmith and decided “You look like a prat. You sound like a prat. You ARE a prat.” If so, we may have to conclude Louis is an excellent judge of character, particularly as David Potts was also on the list.

David Potts - Celebrity Big Brother (ITV)
David Potts - Celebrity Big Brother (ITV)

“You probably know me as the loud, annoying one from Ibiza Weekender,” Potts announced in his intro, and even if you hadn’t heard of Ibiza Weekender I’m willing to bet you’d have taken the other parts on trust.

I felt a bit sorry for Louis and Sharon’s third victim Zeze Millz at first though. Then I discovered she’s a social media influencer. So, fair enough then.

Not that Pottsy, Uncle Gary and ZzzzzeZzzzze are already toast. There is plenty of time for their fellow housemates to disagree with The X Factor duo’s snap assessments.

On that score, you’d have to put Lauren Simon in the at risk category. Marisha Wallace could also be in early trouble, especially if she makes good on her promise/threat that she’s “a walking talking musical”.

As for the winner, I’d be willing to invest heavily in Dragons’ Den legend Levi Roots at this stage. If Levi falls, then Fern would be a good shout followed by that nice lad Craig from Corrie.

Well, I say nice lad Craig. However, if it turns out that when he said “it smells like fresh paint” in the house he was actually referring to Mrs O’s latest makeover, we may have to revise that opinion.

Celebrity Big Brother is on ITV1 at 9pm nightly, except Saturdays.