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'Celebrity Big Brother' Could Be About So Much More Than Rows And It's Time Channel 5 Realised That

24/08/2015 22:52 BST | Updated 24/08/2016 10:59 BST

We all know that if anything's going to get people switching on 'Celebrity Big Brother', it's the promise of a big, fat controversy - and this January's series had so many that you could barely keep up with them all.

Within days, Jeremy Jackson had been kicked out of the house for exposing Chloe Goodman's breast, Ken Morley was thrown out for using racial slurs, and Alexander O'Neal was given a formal warning for homophobic comments.

And then there was Perez Hilton, running around the house, pushing everyone's buttons and getting into arguments with pretty much everybody. When Katie actual Hopkins is providing the voice of reason, you know you've wandered down a gloomy path.

All that controversy might have made for high viewing figures for Channel 5, but the majority of us were watching through our fingers.

It was a series that gave us a shaky Patsy Kensit muttering "namaste" to herself, Nadia Sawalha reaching breaking point and even the usually-so-laidback-he's-horizontal Calum Best swearing and yelling at his housemates, after being pushed to the limit.

I'll throw my hands up and say I was gripped, but can anybody actually say they got any enjoyment out of it?

At its best, 'Big Brother' can be genuinely groundbreaking television. It might not be the most high-brow, but it's a show that has got us talking about LGBT issues, disabilities and race relations, all just from locking a load of people in a house together and watching what they do next.

The beauty of 'Big Brother' doesn't come from its arguments and conflicts, it comes from the small moments. The unlikely friendships, the blossoming flirtations, the laugh-out-loud ridiculousness that ensues when a group of people from totally different and separate walks of life have to come together and live under one roof.

Of course, arguments do come along, as they do in the real world, but it feels like increasingly Channel 5 are trying to orchestrate conflict in a bid to drum up some controversy, instead of intervening when rows get out of hand, and focusing on the nicer aspects of the show instead.

I don't want to see Brian Belo disappearing over a wall because Helen Wood has told him he looks like a rapist. I don't want to see formal warnings being thrown around like confetti. I don't want to see Perez Hilton rubbing his naked body against a mirror, to try and rile the rest of the house (for several reasons, actually).

I just want some entertainment when I watch 'Celebrity Big Brother'. And that, for me, doesn't come from people at each other's throats, it comes from the absurd tasks, the stories the housemates have to tell each other, the unexpected relationships that unfold over time.

That's why when I heard the theme of this summer's celebrity series was 'UK vs USA', it was a bit of a red flag for me. By pitting housemates against each other from the offset, it feels like bosses are sending out a clear message: "There is going to be a load of shouting, and you are going to want to tune in for it."

And that's the thing - I'm not suggesting I want to see the celebrities sitting cross-legged in the living room singing 'Kumbaya' together (unless, of course, it's a part of some class of fabulous task). Arguments are as valid and necessary a part of the 'Big Brother' experience as anything else. But there has to be more than that to make it enjoyable.

So please, Channel 5. When those 14 celebrities shuffle their way into the house on Thursday night, don't prod them with a stick until one of them bites. Don't replay harsh comments they've said behind each other's backs, or make them nominate face-to-face.

Just focus on bringing us some laughs, and making the series as enjoyable as possible. And after a while, they'll probably start arguing of their own accord anyway.