Test: Our Fantasy Celebrity Big Brother

Welcome to the Big Brother house of dreams

Good news for fans of cheap furnishings, murky camera-work, and unchecked passive-aggression. Big Brother, the original reality television juggernaut, returns to Irish television tomorrow night.

This qualifies as a surprise on several accounts. The biggest eye-opener, surely, is that Big Brother is still going. It feels like forever since this expertly calibrated piece of light entertainment sadism commandeered the zeitgeist, minting such unlikely celebrities as Jade Goody and Anna Nolan.

But it’s also mildly shocking that the format has weathered the past 15 years more or less unchanged. In an era when reality television has been bent and twisted into all sorts of fascinating shapes, Big Brother’s format remains reassuringly straight forward and primal. Shut 12 strangers in a prefab for a fortnight and watch the power-play unfold.

With the new season set to debut on TV3 on Tuesday, how better to prepare for the emotional fireworks than speculate what an exclusively Irish Big Brother might look like? To that end, here is our fantasy Celebrity Big Brother — and the 12 participants we think would electrify the screen.

1: Roy Keane

Shut Roy Keane away with a group of people with whom he doesn’t really get along and an explosion of purple-faced indignation is more or less guaranteed. Just ask the Ireland soccer squad, on the receiving end of some patented Roy Rage on the eve to the 2002 World Cup. The great thing about Roy on Big Brother is that you would never know just when the red mist would manifest. He would probably remain calm through the initial strain of being separated from his loved ones — and then turn head spinningly feral when someone pinched a tea-bag behind his back. His participation would naturally be contingent on him growing the crazy-man beard he sported for much of last year. Actually, if Roy isn’t up for it he could send the beard along in his absence. It’s plenty scary in its own right.

2: Sinead O’Connor

Melodrama thy name is Sinead. The singer/one-person soap opera ticks all of our reality TV boxes. She’s forthright, articulate, plus — and we mean say this with the greatest of respect — prone to amusing/terrifying flights of controversy.

You imagine her and Roy having a blunt exchange regarding whose turn it was to dry the dishes — truly, a showdown for the ages.

The only possible downside is that you can picture her hogging the Big Brother confessional booth. In fact, once inside she might not want to come out.

3: Liam Neeson

Hollywood’s angriest action hero, Neeson is perfect for the high-stakes, ticking timebomb tension of reality telly. Certainly, he and Roy Keane would make for an endearing double-act of untrammeled fury. Plus, should the claustrophobia grow too much, Neeson could over-power the camera crew and high-kick his way to freedom. Who wouldn’t pay to watch that?

4: Georgia Salpa/ Nadia Forde/ random C-list ‘celebrity’

Irish model/actress/singer types have proved a smash on reality TV in the UK, with Nadia Forde impressing on I’m A Celebrity by demonstrating such rare qualities as human empathy and a sense of humour (thus setting her apart from her freakshow companions). So they’d probably fit right in on Big Brother and give the tabloids something to drool over. We would also feel their pain when Sinead O’Connor kept them up all night for a lecture on third-wave feminism.

5: Nidge from Love/Hate

You’re right, he isn’t a real person. Also, he’s probably dead. Setting such trivialities aside, however, we, like you, would love to see ‘ King Nidge’ shoved cheek by jowl with a random assemblage of ’slebs. Their inanities would push him, slowly, inexorably, into protean apoplexy.

6: Vincent Browne

Vaguely well-known people doing and saying ridiculous things in an unconvincing cardboard studio… for long-time viewers, it may seem that Vincent Browne has already had his own reality TV show for years. The difference is that on BB, harangued guests would not have the option of walking off set — they would instead be sequestered with Browne in an echo chamber from which there was no escape. Hell on earth for them — TV gold for us.

7: Someone From Game of Thrones

There are lots of Irish actors on GoT — surely one or more might be cajoled onto BB? It could be Aidan Gillen, Lord of the Wandering Accent (he’s been giving it the full ‘Charlie’ on Thrones this season). Or what about Liam Cunningham aka Ser Davos Seaworth. His character once fed an entire castle by sneaking onions in after dark— a skill that would probably come in useful when the BB house runs out of dairy spread on day six.

8: Bono

Yes, we’re being painfully obvious in nominating U2’s mewler-in-chief. The reason, however, is not his megawatt fame or an ego so vast there have been confirmed sightings from the International Space Station. The reason we want to see Bono on Big Brother is because his blinding new peroxide dye job would constitute its own light source, thus allowing Channel 5 (broadcasting the show in the UK) to cut down on electricity bills. TV manna, AND good for the environment.

9: Louis Walsh

With Walsh quitting The X Factor, suddenly the airwaves are lacking in squeaky-voiced pop wisdom. So how better for Walsh to begin the next chapter of his career than be pulling up a berth on the Big Brother couch? When Vincent Browne has a tantrum, Walsh can tell him he really made the hissy fit ‘his own’ and that it was the finest Jeremy Paxman cover version he’s witnessed this side of Claire Byrne.

10: Graham Linehan

Father Ted co-creator turned dispatcher of vehement tweets. Judged strictly by his one-line presence, Linehan strikes you as a very cross man not given to keeping his own counsel. In other words, perfect Big Brother material. Also, the gift for surreal humour he demonstrated on Father Ted might serve as a useful coping mechanism.

11: Brian O’Driscoll

The golden boy of Irish sport, Drico combines great hair, A-lister swagger, and a rugby player’s penchant for rib-tickling japery. Just wait for the expression on Keane’s face when he realises Drico has smeared jam all over the inside of Roy’s runners. Hilaaaarious!

12: Brendan O’Carroll

He only gets in if dressed as Mrs Brown. Who wouldn’t pay to see O’Carroll’s politically incorrect grand dame engaged in a figurative mud wrestle with Sinead O’Connor while Vincent Browne tried to get a word in and Bono attempted to soothe everything over with an impromptu singalong? We are soooo there.


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