On June 5th I emerged from the Big Brother eye like a deer in the headlights, wondering what on earth I was getting myself into by entering Britain's most infamous house. With a fear of the unknown, I nervously trembled down a stage with hundreds of strangers booing me and calling me every name under the sun as I embarked on the start of the most unforgettable month of my life. Following my wobbly entrance I was again humiliated instantly, locked up in a suspended glass box that I was made to sleep in for my first night. This was only the start of my experience as over the next month I was watched 24/7 for thirty days, destined to partake in a number of demoralising tasks and let's also not forget, shit in front of a camera on a daily basis.
Despite the fact I was gutted to go after four weeks, the biggest advantage of being out half way through the series was that I could I go back to the former me; a sad, overly enthusiastic, fanatical Big Brother fan who loved to waste hours of time spent tweeting, ranting and dishing opinions out on each and every deluded fame-hungry wannabe living in the nation's most notorious house year after year; in this instance, my fellow housemates.
It's still hard to believe that only a few weeks back I was part of that freak show, who put themselves on show for 1.5 million viewers to watch, judge and slate week after week. Of course, I watched the show continue on without my presence and only wanted to throw myself back through that screen to hug Mark, call Helen a "skid-mark of society" once again and simply throw a spanner in the works post-eviction, yet simultaneously I could adopt a viewers approach to the series too. I could forget that the remaining housemates are human beings and happily sit on Twitter slagging the majority of them off knowing that when I see them all again at the finale we will most probably brush things over, give each other a pat on the back, putting on a show of happy families for a number of hours before the majority of us never speak to one another again for the rest of our lives.
Unaware of how many people have said it yet; you'll never understand the experience fully unless you are a Big Brother housemate yourself. From the mixed feelings of anxiety and excitement you are faced with whilst locked up in hiding one week prior to going in, the intensity of cabin fever you experience living in a dull claustrophobic environment with the same fifteen other housemates all-day, everyday, to the post-BB trauma of reflecting on it as one whole big blur. At the present moment I can proudly say "I'm glad I did it" and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but who knows what is going to follow when I move on with my life attempting to go back to a normal job after my five minutes of "limited public recognition" have ended. I went into Big Brother as an average (not ordinary) twenty-three year old Jewish boy from north-west London simply looking to gain the experience of a life time. If anything I merely hope I could eventually be taken seriously again in the real world and go back to an ordinary marketing job as previously held before Big Brother.
Why did I do it? I went through a conventional academic background and graduated from the University of Leicester with a media degree that I didn't know what to do with. Whilst feeling optimistic following my graduation in the summer of 2011 about what lied ahead of me, things proved harder in the real world than I expected. After facing three jobs in my first three years of graduating I still wasn't sure where my career was going or what I truly wanted out of life. I was experiencing a "quarter-life crisis" and couldn't face making more rational decisions that I was going to look back on and regret. I never went travelling or had a gap year that allowed me to gain any unique so-called life experience; Big Brother was my solution for this. After a tedious length of time with sleepless nights anxiously over analysing how Big Brother could ruin my entire life, career and relationship with my girlfriend of six years. It was something I knew I wanted to do but something I found very difficult to feel confident in going ahead with. Eventually, I told myself if it was the final decision I was to ever make with my heart then so be it.
One of the most important things I did learn from my experience was that in today's generation the so-called "quarter-life crisis" is far more prominent than I imagined. Despite the fact that I went into Big Brother with no agenda to acquire a short-cut to fame, I realised how no matter whichever background you come from, geographical, social, economical or academic, there are many twenty-something year olds around the UK who do not know what they want today.
I managed to meet an array of housemates from all walks of life. The first person I saw was the eccentric 24-year old scouser Mark, who upon a first glance I immediately did not think I'd get on with yet later turned out to be my best friend throughout my stay and potentially the only person I could maintain a long-term friendship with.
There was an Essex lad who I could have easily confused with Joey Essex, a blonde bombshell with a huge endearing grin, a quiet Catholic girl that stood anxiously in the corner who I could already see was questioning whether or not being in Big Brother was a critical error, a less impressionable opticians assistant from South-London whose false persona quickly shattered and proved to be very insecure and a strong-minded salon owner from Bolton who I engaged in the most controversial argument of the series with.
The wild and vivacious 49-year old Pauline walked in and I already knew she would be the one to beat proven by the fact she was given the power instantly that led to her ultimate downfall which soon resulted in her eviction two weeks later. I lived with three other models and an actor who all hoped Big Brother would give their careers a desired push, despite the fact I did state to them on several occasions that surely appearing on Big Brother would do the opposite and tarnish that?
What was notable in my eyes was the fact nearly every housemate I lived with was after something, whether that be fame, self-acceptance, an ego boost or just an experience to beat out any other they have gained so far in their life; the question I ask is, do all housemates utilise Big Brother in attempt to resolve their "quarter-life crisis"?
As the show goes on I bitterly watched the remaining housemates continue on their Big Brother journey in hope that their lives will change forever once they exit the front doors of the house. Many of them I learned inside the house that they had already been on several reality TV shows, therefore their attempt to showcase their personalities to the British Nation were more than overt. During my time in that house I sometimes couldn't help eavesdropping into my other housemates' conversations about getting "papped" outside London's prestigious clubs, or the prospect of making money from PA's in post-BB life. There were times where I could do nothing yet merely cringe, and other occasions where I witnessed myself impulsively jump in to tell triple B that they were entirely deluded for believing this. After I was evicted, I realised it were only best to allow them to find things out for themselves upon their pending departures.
Winston who early on in Big Brother confided in me about his previous appearances in ITV2's "Girlfriends", "TOWIE" and BBC's renown "Eastenders", admitted to me that he was hoping he could gain a career in acting from his appearance in the house. Despite Danielle's cover up of her rather risqué photographs all over the internet, she opened up about her past of dating well known men and often spoke about how she knew the way to fame and public marketing over the rest of my housemates.
Steven, one of the already successful housemates that proved to have his own businesses outside of Big Brother came up with the idea of paying an independent production company to follow himself and "Triple B" around on a travelling trip around America. Even at that moment I realised money and corporate success to some was not enough.
Housemates had spoken about Marlon's famous friends who he spent his weekends partying with in lavish nightclubs. Talking about getting "papped" after Big Brother and making thousands of pounds from PA's was the 180 degree factor that led hurricane Toya to clash with him and brutally shout "You need Big Brother!" at him, in only week three; another controversial moment the viewers managed to latch onto in weeks to come. I really felt compassion towards him and on one occasion alerted him of his false ego, yet the fact he continued to parade around in the mirrors every five minutes making chauvinist remarks such as "spread your legs" to Kimberly meant that it was time to let him get on with it.
Kimberley, one of the models in the house who had already made herself a profile in the US and candidly spoke about her involvement with Hugh Heffner, admitted to having slightly exposing photographs all over the internet. With a law degree and a strong business mind I begun to wonder if Big Brother may have been treated as a job to her as well as many of my peers.
Despite so many of my housemates boasting about "never working a day in their life" all over their VT's, 90% of housemates go into Big Brother with an agenda whether they admit to it or not. Ok, so there may be no other experience like it, but Big Brother is not just for anyone. It's televised and that's what plays a key part in the reasons as to why the housemates participate. I'll openly admit that I thoroughly enjoy attention and thrive on the national recognition like many of us would. Who doesn't want more Twitter followers and adoration of complete strangers that we don't even know? I enjoy it, but don't need it.
They were afraid of me in the beginning. I was instantly judged as being an out-of-the-ordinary "posh" housemate, simply by my lack of enthusiasm or forced whimsical persona when walking down the steps to meet the rest of my housemates. As expected, the rest of them had questioned Pauline about what exactly she had seen in my VT to have selected me for punishment and had all been made aware of how "I can't stand thick people". I had watched the show for years and realised that the popularity of each contestant is very fickle, so being locked up in a glass box would not faze me in the slightest or alter the viewer's perception of me long enough for a lasting effect. When watching it back I shouldn't have been surprised to find out that it was edited to present me looking ever so saddened, rather than humored as I was in reality.
After a couple of days my personality came out, a rather pretentious, overly opinionated, dry, sarcastic and brutally candid camp boy with awkward mannerisms. I wasn't in the position to let people witness my sensitive side in the early days as my guard remained up and I kept well and truly on my toes for the twists that lingered ahead of us during Big Brother's most evil series yet. This of course diminished when the novelty of Big Brother wore off and the true opinions of others found their way out of my mouth after three days. I became miserable in my final week once the girls were selected for power and I had to witness the show I love conform to cultural stereotypes and gender discourse; something I have very much challenged my whole life. I have since been informed of my downfall when sitting in the diary room miserably talking down of the rest of my housemates in my final week when the pressure of potential eviction loomed over me. Whilst the viewers may have personally preferred to watch other housemates over me, I couldn't bare the fame talk and that's what made me extremely bitter about my pending eviction. Of course, since leaving the house I have reminded myself that it is all one big game and that you cannot take Big Brother so seriously after all because you are purely allowing yourself to be utilised in a game show. Now that I am out I have already conspired to the game that Big Brother is and will learn to accept that however I was portrayed and no matter how shocking my eviction may have been to most viewers, it has happened and that the past is precisely what it is.
Aside from coming across like a grumpy old man, I did enjoy the most of my experience. I look back and laugh hysterically when attempting to conjure an image back up in my mind of Danielle's face whilst I fed her eggs during the farm task. Similarly, her reactions to being electrocuted and finding out that she was put up for nomination in week one kept me giggling throughout the series and impersonating her to her face (never shown on TV). Excluding the comedy at Danielle's expense, my masquerade ball will always be a party to remember after experiencing my dreaded 24th birthday during my stay. The occasions where I had the most fun were the tasks, where we could solely forget that we were locked in a dull and claustrophobic environment with the same people, partaking in the most monotonous and repetitive conversations day after day. I managed to compete in a dangerous obstacle course reminiscent of Takeshi's Castle, partake in a couple of pants-pissing hysterical farm themed tasks, immerse myself in a fantastically crafted murder mystery and of course "twerk" like Miley Cyrus in a horrifically exposing Y-front. Of course I the show is heavily edited. I formed friendships with most of them very quickly and was deemed one of the key entertainers by my fellow housemates early on. As I continue to watch back I am only gobsmacked by how irrelevant I look and how inherently quiet and bland I actually was made out to be through the a viewers TV screen after all.
The first week was the most fun where we would excitingly embrace each and everything the producers would throw our way. At that moment everyone was excited to make new 'besties' and talk about how shocked they're mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins, school friends, teachers, bosses and enemies from the past would feel to find out they were on Big Brother. What nobody realised including myself was that the novelty of being on Big Brother would quickly wear off and eventually you would get bored, tired, stressed and hate the fact that you were starting to not enjoy the experience as much as you imagined. This is when unexpected arguments kick in, all sense of stimulating conversation is lost causing you to slag others off behind their backs, you find yourself sleep-deprived, chain smoking and eventually cracking in the diary room and the entire house becomes entirely dependent on the rationed cheap alcoholic "refreshments" that Big Brother provides to us nearly every night.
I never felt the need to exhibit or put on a forced entertainment show for my housemates and neither Big Brother's viewers either for that matter. Instead I just did me. I'm aware that people find me funny and enjoy listening to my highly sarcastic remarks in a dry tone that no one bar Matthew Davies can pull off, therefore I rested on the fact that viewers would warm to my personality, yet also had assurance in the fact that regardless of whether I made it to the final or was evicted in week one, I would enter and leave 100% myself and probably hold back from embarrassing myself enough to regret Big Brother in years to come.
There are several housemates that indeed played up to the cameras. Many of them are definitely bright enough to know how they are being perceived on TV and therefore act accordingly to how they hope the game will go for them, in hope that they will not receive a dreaded nomination. Whilst most housemates fully threw themselves into the shows tasks and twists and let go of their inhibitions I remained uptight in various circumstances, given the fact I reminded myself there was life after Big Brother and this limited experience was not one I would allow to dictate my future or either disrespect my girlfriend on television. I was involved in the most controversial argument of the series and experienced a number of unique scenarios that will not be repeated. Most critically, I put myself in a position to allow 1.5 million viewers to form an opinion of me which turns out isn't actually so bad after all.
"You made being camp look so sexy" one of my followers said, whilst another person tells me "You are the most beautiful man I have ever seen". These comments certainly make up for any self-esteem lost in the house after being called a "Pigeon-chested little twat" after all.
And about that argument between Helen and I. Regardless of how negative my feelings were and still remain towards Helen, she wasn't always so bad to me. Being blunt and entirely up-front towards people isn't always easy when you're around such strong characters and being judged on national TV. Of course, I have been highly vocal about how much I do not condone her behavior, but what she chooses to do is her own problem. Yes, I have indeed found out about her scandal in the press since leaving Big Brother but everyone has a past and I will not judge people on that. I have judged her on how she treated myself and others in that house and that is what led me to my conclusions on her.
Will I keep in touch with any of my Big Brother housemates? After one week in that house it felt like a whole month. Feelings are intensified and you become highly dependent on strangers you barely even know. I developed a very close "bromance" with the charismatic, fun-loving Mark who relentlessly requested I come to Liverpool after Big Brother to join him for a typical "scouse" night out and will certainly take him up on. Big Brother is not reality and In the house I experienced many housemates make enthusiastic "empty" promises with one another about sharing flats and going into business ventures with each other, but sometimes I told myself it was best to allow them to learn the reality of their friendships upon their exit. There are many people I will certainly keep in contact with after the show and many I truly hope to build genuine friendships with in the future.
My advice to anyone who is thinking of applying for Big Brother is that you need complete confidence in yourself. Big Brother is only for the thick skinned and not for the faint-hearted. It is an intense experience that is not to be underestimated in the slightest. If you go in with a false persona or game plan, it will not suffice and you will ultimately fail. The experience is once in a lifetime, but limited. It's important to throw yourself into it and make the absolute most of the opportunity, yet do not rely on it for fame, money and certainly not acceptance or validation. Do it for the experience and make the most of every minute you spend in there.