“It’s all just Panto,” Davina McCall would frequently whisper to Big Brother contestants if they left the house to boos. Not so for Roxanne Pallett who after walking out of the Celebrity Big Brother house last week, has had to step down from her Pantomine role this Christmas after being branded ‘the most hated girl in Britain’.
I haven’t watched this series, but it’s been impossible to escape the media furore surrounding ‘punch-gate’.
Pallett appeared to falsely accuse fellow contestant Ryan Thomas of intentionally punching her. On the surface, her accusation did seem malicious. However, as someone who has experienced psychological distress, I suspected that perhaps the play fight had psychologically triggered her. Her version of events, she later confirmed, was in her mind at the time very real. She’s since viewed the footage and admitted “I got it wrong”, she’s apologised. It takes courage to admit when you are wrong and say sorry, which she first did on Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine show. Despite being “advised not to” appear. This did not pacify the baying mob.
I’ve observed countless celebrities, the mainstream media and apparently the general public condemn a woman who is potentially vulnerable.
Pallett has worked with Domestic Violence Charity Women’s Aid who lay plain that while play fighting may not seem serious, if you have been in an abusive relationship it can seem frightening and even trigger memories of the abuse.
“Domestic abuse means you don’t feel safe in your home environment, and as a woman who has previously spoken about being in a violent and abusive relationship, Pallett clearly did not feel comfortable going to sleep in the same room as someone who had physically hurt her, even if that was not his intention,” the statement read.
Anyone who has experienced trauma may have experienced their mind playing tricks on them, often diagnosed by medical professionals as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
In an interview with Big Brother host Emma Willis, Pallett said: “Watching it seems like a completely different scenario to how it felt at the time.”
I can’t imagine that angry mobs on social media reflect the views of the majority, so I was disappointed to see Willis apparently play up to their demands. In an interview which lacked sensitivity, she cut off Pallett mid-sentence a number of times, as she tried to express her feelings in the moment of the incident.
Denise Welch, a high profile spokesperson on mental health issues heavily criticised Pallett on Loose Women, saying: “She’s apologised because she was caught out.”
In her interview with Willis, Pallett said: “I need to go away and think about why I used humour when something actually bothered me in my mind.” Watching, I recalled reading about how laughter can be used as a defence mechanism when feeling threatened.
The dominant argument on social media, also made by Willis in the interview, is that had the camera’s not been there, Thomas would have been ruined. This narrative collapses under scrutiny. We’re talking about the Big Brother house. The cameras are always rolling. Why would Pallett consciously lie, knowing the incident would have been recorded? She’s now admitted, that she was not thinking straight and on viewing the footage leaving the house she saw immediately that she had made a terrible mistake. Following the two interviews, she has been dismissed by many as fake. Words like “Narcissist”, “Psycho” and “Bitch” are being thrown about on social media. Her social media profiles have been taken down.
She made a mistake, but does the punishment fit the crime? It was only in June this year that reality TV star Sophie Gradon was found dead from suspected suicide. People forget that celebrities are human beings, with feelings and vulnerabilities.
Big Brother could have chosen not to air the play fight or the accusations following. Mental health support could have been provided to Pallett in private. Instead, they have chosen to throw a likely vulnerable woman to the wolves.
Airing my unpopular opinion on twitter, Loose Women’s Denise Welch told me to “shut up.” I was then bombarded with abusive messages from her followers. Some going as far as to make judgements about the state of my own mental health.
I would like Pallett to know that not everyone hates her as she seems to believe. I don’t hate her. It’s not fair to condemn a person for bad behaviour when it’s impossible to tell if that behaviour is character, or a sign of mental distress. I wish her well as she takes time out to reflect and tries to “become a better person.”