Exclusive: Big Brother runner-up Raph on living his BB dream

Superfan talks to bbspy about Chanelle, strategy and the show's controversies
- Posted on August 14 2017 at 11:30pm

Big Brother 2017 housemates - Raphael Korine

Big Brother 2017 runner-up and BB superfan Raph Korine tells bbspy about that intro VT, making friends with Chanelle McCleary, his gameplay strategies and more in an exclusive interview!

After his fourth time auditioning for the show, this year the producers gave citizenship of the United Kingdom of Big Brother to Raph, an active, card-carrying member of the online BB community – who you’ll often find sounding off on his Twitter page and the ThisisBigBrother.com forums.

A huge fan of the radically different American Big Brother format as well as our own version here in Britain, he proved a controversial figure from the second he appeared on-screen. During his intro VT, he proclaimed he’d “quite likely be the smartest person in the house”, that “love is a weakness”, and that he “may look down on” his friends if they prioritised “hooking up”.

What he didn’t bank on was a twist that enabled that VT to be exposed in the house – and Raph quickly found himself on the back foot when People’s Housemate Tom spread the news of exactly what he’d seen.

The psychology student formed a solid group with the likes of Chanelle, Hannah and Deborah as the Rose vs. Thorn Cottage divide emerged – but he was not nearly as disruptive as some housemates expected, and the latter weeks saw him build his friendships with those on the other side, including Tom and Kieran.

Unfortunately Raph’s BB journey was cut short at the very last hurdle, as he finished second to Isabelle during the grand final – but he was still thrilled to match the placing of his all-time BBUK favourite, BB7 runner-up Glyn Wise.

We were eager to ask Raph some questions, superfan to superfan, to find out what it’s really like going from obsessively watching TV’s most famous house to actually living in it.

Big Brother 2017 live launch - Raphael Korine

Here, in an exclusive chat with bbspy, he talks about his Big Brother experience and fellow housemates, gives his take on some of the biggest complaints about his series – reality stars, outside contact, back door evictions, ratings – and reveals how he reacted when he found out about Big Brother Canada’s hiatus.

Your intro VT was a talking point, but these days some housemates are seen as putting on an act to get in the house. How much of your VT was genuine?
My VT was definitely genuine, I would just say that I exaggerated my worst qualities in some parts of my VT, but at the time when recording the VT that’s how I did feel, and ultimately it is a very cut-down version of the VT filming.

A divide emerged among the housemates, and you became part of the Thorn Cottage crew. What do you think caused the split, and how was it to live with?
I think the split was caused by the fact that there were two bedrooms and a literal wall dividing the two groups. It was stressful to live with at times but also fun because it added a very interesting dynamic to watch unfold over the weeks of the show.

Big Brother 2017 - Raph Korine and Chanelle McCleary

You formed one of the most unlikely, yet lasting friendships of the series with Chanelle. What made the two of you so close?
I think me and Chanelle are both mischievous, we both like to have fun and we’re both loyal people. We were also both so happy to be in Big Brother. I had so many great times with Chanelle in the house and even though our backgrounds may be completely different, our personalities just clicked and I adored her!

This series featured its fair share of confrontations – you had a rift with Joe, and witnessed ‘Fight Night 3’, the row that led to Lotan’s ejection. How did you cope with the conflict?
I did have rifts with Joe. I think he took an instant disliking to me based off of my VT – a few housemates did and that was something tough to deal with. In terms of Fight Night 3, the conflict was too much at times, but I watched the tension between the two groups grow and grow over the weeks, so I was not surprised when it all kicked off.

Give us your verdicts on the other housemates – who were your favourites, and who weren’t you so fond of?
My favourites are most of the housemates! Of course I was closest to the Thorn Cottage crew (Chanelle, Imran, Sukhvinder, the sisters, Isabelle) but I also had good relationships with others in the house like Kieran and Tom; I actually got along with almost everyone in my cast.

I wasn’t so fond of Kayleigh. She once told me in the house that if I remained friends with Arthur, I would go home in the early weeks. She also said she thought I would be evicted because I didn’t have a ‘fanbase’. She didn’t understand Big Brother and she treated people terribly, so she’s the only person I wasn’t fond of.

You advocate gameplaying, but there are few chances to truly ‘play the game’ on BBUK. Why didn’t you think strategically (i.e. target big threats) when you got to talk nominations in The Void – and how did you feel about not getting to play for the £18,900 prize during The Steal?
My strategy with The Void was to bring in Sam, as I had the least close relationship to him of the newbies. I didn’t want to tell him who to nominate, because the aim of the chat was more to establish a good foundation for me and Sam’s relationship, so he wouldn’t nominate me more so than controlling his nominations outcome.

Big Brother 2017 - The Steal

I was glad to not play in the Steal because I would not have taken it. At that point in the show, I did not want to evict anyone so it was in my best interest not to take part.

We were shocked that you, a fan of the American BB format, were against Andrew’s decision to Steal the money and evict Sam. You said it was “not the strongest move”, but by doing that, he won the Second Chance game and no longer had to worry about the public vote. Why did you think he should have “let fate decide” rather than take the clear path to victory?
As a game move, of course I respect Andrew. On the other hand, I just felt that at that point of the series, it would not have been fair to remove anyone from the game, without the public’s hand. Sam was already removed once when Savannah and Isabelle were chosen and I just felt bad for Sam, because Andrew’s move was entirely at Sam’s expense.

Big Brother 2017 - Raph Korine votes for Kieran Lee in fake eviction twist

As someone who knows Big Brother inside out, you were in a better position than anyone to second guess the show. Did any of the twists this series truly shock you? You said the supposed eviction of Hannah and Tom was one of the most brutal twists ever – did you not suspect it could have been fake?
As crazy as it may sound, I did not think the double eviction of Tom and Hannah was fake. As it was the last week of the show, I did not think fake evictions would be happening anymore, so had ruled that thought out. What I found in the house was that even as a superfan, it’s almost impossible to speculate because the producers will always be one step ahead of you. Kieran was the best speculator!

One of the major viewer criticisms of this year’s series is that too many of the housemates – over a third of the entire line-up – were existing reality stars. What’s your take on this; where should the line be drawn?
I agree, it would’ve been better to have no reality stars. Having said that, the majority of last year’s cast were models. At least this year was very diverse in terms of ethnicity, nationality and occupation; so even though a lot of people had reality tv backgrounds, it was still the most diverse Channel 5 series. Also, with ex reality stars, we would not have gotten Chanelle who was a phenomenal housemate, so I suppose it’s alright to cast one or two each year :)

Big Brother 2017 task

Big Brother frequently risks the wrath of die-hard fans by repeatedly breaking the ‘no contact with the outside world’ rule. What was that like to experience on the inside – did your heart sink when the mean Tweets were wheeled out?
I hated it. The worst day in the house for me was when I was told the public thought I was the ‘most two faced’. As much as outside contact can give immediate entertainment (for the reactions in that episode), long-term it’s problematic. For me, I hated it because it made me be more aware of how people perceived me, and I think as such, it takes away some authenticity from housemates as it’s hard not to react off of outside contact and change your behaviour in the house.

Simone, Charlotte, Hannah and Kieran were all evicted through the back door. Does Big Brother hold too many back door evictions now?
Way too many! It definitely adds to suspense in the house and via viewers but I just think it’s a shame when housemates (e.g. Kieran and Hannah, who were there for the whole summer) have to leave through the backdoor and not through the top of the stairs. That being said, with a cast of 22 housemates and only 8 weeks on air, I understand why it was done this year.

Big Brother 2017 - Raph Korine in the Diary Room

You’re a huge fan of Big Brother, not just from the UK but around the world. How often did you talk about past series of BBUK and international versions in the house – and, given that the rules ban such talk, were you ever told off?
WAY too often. I remember talking to Kieran and Deborah about Big Brother Canada. I would also talk to Deborah often about past housemates as we were the two biggest BB fans in the house. Some of the housemates also knew ex-housemates, so it was fun to hear such stories. However, YES, I was told off all the time; “Raph is reminded again to stop talking about previous series of Big Brother”. I just couldn’t help it!

On the night you entered the BBUK house, Big Brother Canada was put ‘on hiatus’ – then, a week before you left, the show was renewed after a major fan outcry. Having been isolated during this period, how did you react when you found out – and what did you think of Global’s decisions?
This is one of the first things my sister told me when I spoke to her. Very disheartened by the news, but SO proud of the BB fandom for petitioning BBCAN to stay on air, and I’m so glad Global have taken the show back on. Big Brother Canada is such a good part of the BB franchise and it would be a travesty for it to be cancelled this soon!

Big Brother 2017 final - Raphael Korine finishes in second place

You’ve probably heard by now that your Big Brother is the lowest rating UK series ever, with overnight numbers crashing below 900,000. What do you think the show needs to do to win back viewers?
I think it’s really tough. This year saw the most diverse cast in Channel 5 history, yet ratings were still lower. I think with a show like Big Brother, which has been on for 18 years now, it’s really tough to keep an audience excited for all that time. Watch Love Island not even reach series 10 though, and then let’s talk!

I think the only thing Big Brother could do to win back viewers is to make it more old-school. I think a lot of the young generation are too keen on Ex on the Beach and Love Island that they may not be the best demographic for C5 to cater to.

Finally, what surprised you most about the Big Brother experience in general? Are you happy with the series you were in, and was being a housemate all that you’d expected it to be?
What surprised me the most was that I got emotional in the house; I really did not expect that and I learnt a lot about myself.

I’m SO happy to have been part of the most diverse Channel 5 cast ever, and I absolutely adored our house theme and design too. Being a housemate was above and beyond what I expected it to be. I encourage EVERYONE to apply because it truly is the most amazing experience ever!

  • You can follow Raph on Twitter @Raph176 – he has also responded to some of his own followers’ questions in a video Q&A, which you can watch on his YouTube page!

With thanks to @SScodes8, @robynfeeney_, @SuperTV247 and @Kelly3374Marg for their questions

The Celebrity version of Big Brother continues nightly on Channel 5 and 3e until Friday 25th August

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