'Celebrity Big Brother' series 4: Looking back at why it was the best CBB ever

Chantelle Houghton won CBB 4 (PA)
Chantelle Houghton won CBB 4 (PA)

Getting the mix of housemates exactly right for Celebrity Big Brother is alchemy, and rarely has a reality TV show struck gold quite so strongly as series four of the competition.

Whatever the magic was that created this most memorable of CBB instalments, show bosses will be doing their very best to capture it again for the forthcoming series 22.

Take a look back at the reality TV dream that was Celebrity Big Brother four.

Chantelle Houghton cons the house

Chantelle Houghton pulled the wool over the celebs’ eyes (PA)
Chantelle Houghton pulled the wool over the celebs’ eyes (PA)

In pretty much the best twist CBB producers have ever thought of, they recruited a non-celebrity for one of their supposedly “famous” housemates in the January 2006 series (although she was arguably as well-known as some more recent contestants).

Chantelle Houghton’s challenge was to convince her 11 housemates that she was a member of fictional girl band Kandy Floss, and if she was rumbled she would be evicted from the house.

The imposter celeb managed the task with ease – in fact, when the contestants were asked to rate themselves in order of fame, she even came in third from last, beating Preston from band The Ordinary Boys and Maggot from Welsh rap group Goldie Lookin’ Chain.

Viewers of course knew Chantelle’s secret, but were won over by her blossoming romance with Preston as the series continued and she ended up winning the entire series, with Michael Barrymore as her runner-up.

Unfortunately, Chantelle and Preston did not live happily ever after. They did marry each other, but divorced a year later with suggestions that she had felt pressure to look like the fiancée that he had left her for.

Both Chantelle and Preston re-entered the house for Ultimate Big Brother in 2010, where she shared with another housemate: “I moved to Brighton, my friends weren’t there, my family wasn’t there, I was in a strange place, Preston was away working and it was just that I felt so lonely.

“Preston didn’t want to go out with his friends because he felt bad for leaving me at home, and I felt bad because he wasn’t going out with his friends and I felt like I was stopping him from going out. It was circumstances.”

Star housemates

Michael Barrymore was the series runner-up (PA)
Michael Barrymore was the series runner-up (PA)

You’d think it would be a given in a show called Celebrity Big Brother that the contestants would be well known, but especially in later series, some of the housemates’ claims to fame have required lengthy explanations.

With the obvious exception of Chantelle, there were some genuinely big names involved in series four.

TV presenter Michael Barrymore took part in a bid to rehabilitate his career after the discovery of Stuart Lubbock’s body by his swimming pool. He was originally the favourite to win, but ended up second to Chantelle.

Glamour model Jodie Marsh was well known for her outspoken nature before entering the house, but clashed with most of her co-stars, in particular Michael, Pete Burns and George Galloway. The experience was enough to make her swear off any similar series in the future.

Jodie Marsh got a rough ride in the house (PA)
Jodie Marsh got a rough ride in the house (PA)

Jodie’s parents spoke to GMTV during her time in the house to say they felt she was being bullied, with her mum explaining: “There was one strong person at school – exactly like George Galloway – who turned everyone against her. I don’t know how much longer she will be able to cope with that.”

Her dad added: “We didn’t expect her to be bullied by three middle-aged men, one of which is a third-rate politician who claims to be a gentleman, when he isn’t.”

The now late Dead or Alive singer Pete Burns was another big signing for the series, who arrived with a controversial coat (more of which below), and US basketballer Dennis Rodman also joined the line-up although his behaviour in his exit interviews saw him banned from the reunion.

Other housemates included MP George Galloway, actresses Rula Lenska and Traci Bingham, musicians Preston and Maggot, and Football Association secretary Faria Alam.

Would you like me to be the cat?

Series four contained one of the most memorable scenes from any Celebrity Big Brother – although if, mercifully, you’ve forgotten about it, you probably won’t thank us for bringing it back to your attention.

In a task where George Galloway was supposed to pretend to be Rula Lenska’s pet cat, he threw himself into the challenge 100% with some stomach-churning results.

Asking Rula “would you like me to be the cat?”, George got down on all fours, purred at her, rubbed at her legs and put his head in her lap.

Rula played along with the strange behaviour too, pretending to clean cream off his “whiskers” and stroking his head and ears.

It has to be seen to be believed, but be warned, you may wish you hadn’t watched it. The task also seems to have overshadowed an even more disturbing challenge from that series, one which saw the now-disgraced late Jimmy Savile appear in the house twice as part of a Jim’ll Fix It task.

Since the scenes aired, Rula has said in a TV round-up of Big Brother’s most memorable moments: “This was a completely innocent improvisation…I didn’t realise how completely Mr Galloway was going to throw himself into the improvisation. I was gobsmacked when I saw the photographic evidence, which will probably follow me until my dying day.”

But Chantelle added: “It was just disgusting, it gave me the creeps.”

Pete Burns’ fashion crime

Pete Burns and the gorilla coat (Series 4 CBB)
Pete Burns and the gorilla coat (Series 4 CBB)

Things took a controversial turn in Series 4, when Dead or Alive star Pete Burns decided to bring in his very own endangered species outerwear in the form of the infamous ‘gorilla coat’. PETA supporter Jodie Marsh was particularly outraged leading to some explosive telly. However, ultimately viewers were also less than impressed with Pete’s er, fashion statement and the police were sent in the confiscate the coat.

During the opening days of the series, it seemed that Pete Burns may have committed an actual fashion crime – one which required the police to be called.

The singer’s flamboyant launch night outfit certainly turned heads, but when Pete claimed that the coat he wore in the first couple of days was made of gorilla skin, he outraged his co-stars and viewers.

Pete Burns’ choice of coat landed him in trouble (PA)
Pete Burns’ choice of coat landed him in trouble (PA)

Police were called to take the coat away for testing and found that it was indeed made from the hide of an endangered species, but not the one that Pete had thought.

It was actually made from colobus monkey skin, but as the item was vintage and pre-dated the ban on using the animal for clothing, Pete’s jacket was off the hook.

So there you have it – the most memorable series of Celebrity Big Brother to date. We’re still waiting to find out who the housemates are for series 22, but we can’t wait to see whether it will go down in history as one of the classic contests.

Keep checking in for all of your CBB news and gossip right here this summer.

Celebrity Big Brother series 22 begins on Thursday, August 16 at 9pm on Channel 5.

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