So obviously with everything else going on in the world, I haven't had much time for TV but of course unless you are living in a cave, you can't have failed to notice that Celebrity Big Brother has hit our screens again with its usual drama, subterfuge, miscommunication, and overall craziness!
I guess I'm ok to give my opinion on CBB, I often get asked, especially at this time of year just what it's like to spend all that time away from the real world surrounded by essentially a group of strangers, so I thought I would put it out there so you can understand the process a little better.
I was "chosen", I guess, to go into the famous house at a really bad time in my life. Katie had just left me, I was being hailed in the media as some sort of scapegoat for all of Katie's wrath and felt literally hated by the nation at that point. It was really difficult and to be honest when it came to that very first night I wasn't sure if I could go in. It was a hard decision but I am, inherently, a fighter and I don't back down when things get tough, so it was a case of taking a deep breath and going for it. I actually really wanted the public to see the real Alex, not the punchbag I appeared to be. It was actually a really scary and surreal evening, start to finish.
Meeting the other celebrities, for me, was a really bizarre experience. I can describe it as being in a dream, a real out of body type thing. Sure there were some I recognised more than others, and I'm sure that's how most of them felt about me but we had all been thrown into this experience so we had that in common from the outset. All these people, at that very moment, were our frail and vulnerable selves, all wondering what would happen next and what the hell we had signed up to! We had to sink or swim over the coming weeks and I was determined to get my armbands on!
One of the most recognisable faces was of course Stephen Baldwin. I did think he would be quite "Hollywood" but he had a fantastic energy, really interesting to talk to and listen to, a really nice guy. Of course his family were acting royalty in the '80s and '90s so he had some brilliant stories to tell and his anecdotes were great. Basshunter, again, what a star. We became firm friends in there, that was fabulous as our friendship surprised me a little. The relationship with Vinnie Jones was organic, starting out tough, but it moved on to a very warm, brotherly-type vibe. I enjoyed getting to know him very much.
I don't know if I expected to dislike anyone, as we were so very different, but I genuinely didn't. I do tend to look for the good in people. That trait has been known to get me in trouble sometimes but fortunately it worked well for me in the house as I was open to getting on with everyone without agenda.
It's easy in a situation like that to start doubting your own "self", surrounded by those you may judge more well-known and certainly more liked considering what I was going through in the outside world at that time. To be completely honest, I did feel that way a little, just at the start. So to combat any feelings of insecurity I decided to immerse myself in the experience and think que sera, sera! None of us knew how we would be seen, how the public would perceive the people we actually were in comparison to any media hype that may have been attached to each and every one of us over the years. Of course it was something that concerned me during my time in the house. I had been put through the mill a bit and the media had done their best to vilify me in a way. Perhaps the viewers would finally get a chance to see the real Alex, the nice guy who has insecurities like the rest of us, yet always gives everyone a fair shot.
There is simply no getting away from the fact that you are under constant scrutiny as the cameras are literally everywhere! Who can forget me getting a spray tan, with the help of a few of my housemates! I don't think there was an angle of my bum that wasn't covered by either tan or viewing angle! You never forget the cameras are there but it does become a bit more second nature.
Time itself though is your enemy. It drags and drags. I know there are activities and challenges but they don't take up much out of your day on the whole. You have to remember I was madly in love at that time, missing my girl and that just made everything seem to take so much longer. That was what I struggled with the most if I am honest. I missed her. On the flip side of being kept away from that which is most important to you, is the pure exhilarating cathartic nature of not being bombarded with media. No phones, no papers, no social media... nothing. Most of us would go nuts without our phones for an hour, not understand in the slightest the amount of information we are being swamped with information every second. It was a total blackout from technology and it was wonderful. I mean that. I think we should all perhaps take a day, just one day, where we turn everything off and get back to the simple pleasures of actually talking to one another, to taking the time to have a conversation with someone you don't know instead of being glued to our mobile devices and essentially becoming enslaved to them. I am just as guilty but I can tell you being without it, it was amazing. But hey - that's a post all on its own!
The way I felt on entering the house was exactly how I felt when they announced I had won. Everything slowed down, everything was a bit unreal. I couldn't quite believe it but I was so chuffed. So happy that finally, the public had seen a side of Alex Reid that they liked, that they could relate to. That was the pinnacle for me. I had achieved the almost impossible and it hit me like a tonne of bricks. I had been hated, bemoaned, berated and now here I was, the winner of Celebrity Big Brother. Now don't get me wrong it's not an Oscar, I didn't expect plaudits but the simple fact that perhaps the public had warmed to me was a fantastic feeling. Saying that, when I was preparing to leave, I did wonder if I was going to have to dodge being pelted with eggs and rotten tomatoes as I gave my exit interview - luckily that didn't happen!
Since leaving the house I have kept in touch with a couple of people, but it's difficult when you are back in the chaotic real world. I met up with Stephen a couple of times and my mate Basshunter and I enjoyed a boys night out! I even bumped into Dane Bowers on the Tube. It's nothing personal that the friendships you make in there perhaps aren't the most enduring. It's not the real world. It's kind of like having a very intense holiday romance that fizzles when you come back to everyday life but I thought they were all really lovely people in their own way.
Winning CBB for me was a fantastic experience, and if I could only give one piece of advice to any of the housemates it would be simply this, relax - don't forget to be nice and enjoy every single moment of it!