When Big Brother closed its doors for what appeared to be the final time last year, I'm not exaggerating when I say that I felt as if I had lost a very old, very dear friend. Dozens of them, rather. And not just any old boring real-time friend, but all the best bits of all the best friends - all the binge-drinking, back-biting, tantrum-throwing, sexually-incontinent highlights, without any of dreary respectable stuff that can slow down and destroy friendships - all rolled into one.
BB also acted as a short-hand filter to finding new friends; if someone preferred to curl up on the sofa of an evening and watch actors dressed as 1920s servants speaking to each other in silly accents rather than watch a good-looking girl having sex with a bottle on a lawn, we probably weren't going to get along.
So imagine my delight when that prince among pornographers, Richard Desmond, announced his intention of sticking his metaphorical tongue down the franchise's still-warm throat and French-kissing it back to life for Channel 5. Why, on the TV channel which is a byword for bad taste and tackiness, who knew what new depths of fun and freakiness might be plumbed! And I must say, on the evidence of the first night, it's going to be one long, bumpy, bilious ride. Fasten your seat-belts - there's a bunch of crazies on the plane, and nowhere to land!
Sure there are a few things which fall short - in the case of Davina-replacement Brian Dowling, a man so witless that he must have found "coffee or tea?" quite a stretch in his trolley-dolly days, short of a few sandwiches and a moist towelette. (This man is so banal that he could recite the Sermon on the Mount and make it sound like the cabin-crew safety pep-talk.) But for the rest, the Celebrity Big Brother line-up is reassuringly random. A motor-mouthed politician's wife, an ex-sex symbol from the big screen, a slice of young eye-candy from the soaps, a model nobody's heard of, that two-headed demonstration of the Emerald Isle's ridiculous stance on abortion known as Jedward - and sweet, silly, extraordinarily adorable KERRY KATONA, a woman who has probably lived more of her adult life in front of the rolling cameras of reality TV than in private. WHAT a selection!
A cracking first task, too - Kerry K has to act like a complete cow to her new housemates in order to win privileges. It's early days, but I can't see any of the other housemates stealing her crown, unless Kate Middleton makes a surprise mid-way entry to the house. Just hearing Marcus Bentley's gorgeous voice gave me chills, and suddenly the end of summer and the long haul of hibernation doesn't seem anything but profoundly desirable. Basking in the warmth of this shower's shameless exhibitionism, who needs the sun? With strong language, adult themes and flashing images all the way, welcome back to the most exquisite of televisual celebrations of the human spirit in all its ghastliness, goriness and glory. Big Brother, we salute you!
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