As Celebrity Big Brother 2013 fans react to the news that Rylan Clark has been leaving the house regularly for X Factor tour rehearsals, we explain why it’s another nail in the show’s coffin.
Oh dear. Who knew that it would be Kathy Beale that sparked the signature furore of this series of Big Brother?
This morning the lovely Gillian Taylforth unwittingly ignited the one of the biggest controversies in the show’s history by revealing that Rylan Clark has been regularly let out of the most famous house in Britain so he could honour his commitments to the talent contest.
Speaking on Channel 5′s long-running morning talkshow The Wright Stuff, she told of how he asked his ‘driver’ the time and relayed that information to the group, and later informed their ‘Mic Man’ Eric Johnson that the Essex lad routinely left every Sunday.
Just hours later, a spokesperson confirmed the news, but insisted that he hadn’t left the Elstree Studios site in Hertfordshire, and that he’d been accompanied by a member of staff.
Since Big Brother moved to Channel 5, it’s just about held up against the numerous criticisms that have emerged – the lack of live feed, the alleged nominations tampering, and the fact that Conor McIntyre was able to leave last year’s normal series £50,000 richer despite his threats of physical and sexual abuse towards Deana Uppal.
But now, any shred of credibility left in the Big Brother format in the UK has been destroyed, and here we explain the three main reasons why.
The ‘no contact with the outside world’ rule is now null and void
The single most crucial point of the Big Brother format – even more so than live feed – is that housemates are isolated in the house and filmed 24 hours a day, with no ways of contacting the outside world.
This should be sacrosanct. Not even the catch-all excuse ‘Big Brother reserves the right to change the rules at any time’ can justify changes to it.
Nonetheless, they’re rules that have been stretched to breaking point over the years. Housemates have left for tasks, housemates have left to do the shopping. The house has even been opened up for a celebrity red carpet film premiere.
But at least those instances had always been on Big Brother’s terms. Until now, trips out the house have never been dictated by a housemate, contractual obligations or not. And no, this isn’t just because it’s Rylan – anyone could be in his shoes and it’d still be a problem.
Now that this line has been crossed, Big Brother is no longer Big Brother. If contestants are going to be allowed out to work, why lock them up at all?
Z-list celebrities are now regarded as bigger than the show
Over the years, producers have made a number of concessions to get celebrities in the house – to name two, private bedrooms and the ability for pairs to be counted as one housemate.
Otherwise, even the biggest names – Vinnie Jones, Verne Troyer, Jermaine and La Toya Jackson – have had to take part in accordance with Big Brother’s rule book.
But never before has one of these concessions compromised the Big Brother format. And this is for X Factor reject Rylan Clark – who doesn’t even regard himself as a celebrity.
Was he really that essential to the success of this series that producers had to get him in at any cost? We’d be willing to wager that there are other stars out there just as entertaining as Rylan whose presence in the house would not have made a mockery of the show.
This sets a worrying precedent for the future – if some bloke off a talent show who’ll most likely be forgotten in five months time can secure such a significant privilege, what will the next batch of nobodies be able to get away with?
We can’t trust the producers at all any more
By far the worst thing about this debacle is that producers have covered it all up. Viewers have been spending their hard-earned money voting to save Rylan while under the misleading impression that he’s been living in the house 24 hours a day.
If chiefs had been honest and even just briefly mentioned Rylan’s absences on the programme, any defence they mounted would have been a little more credible. But the fact that they haven’t come clean until today leaves them without a leg to stand on.
This isn’t a housemate leaving for medical treatment or to learn of the sad death of a loved one. This is the most significant breach of the Big Brother format to date.
Spin-off show Bit On The Side has promised to address the issue tonight in what will no doubt be an attempt to gloss it over before they pretend it never happened. But faith in Big Brother is at an all time low and it’s going to take a major shift in attitude among the top brass to restore it.
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