Celebrity Big Brother: lord have mercy on our souls

Channel 5 revamp is even more low-rent than expected as cast of nobodies assembles

BY Sophie Taylor LAST UPDATED AT 11:27 ON Fri 19 Aug 2011

The long-running show Celebrity Big Brother, axed by Channel 4 last year amid falling ratings, returned to TV screens last night and seemingly confirmed predictions that the transfer to Richard Desmond's Channel 5 would mean a move even further downmarket.

"If anything, [cynics] underestimated how much further downmarket," writes Michael Hogan in the Daily Telegraph. "It's coming to something when John and Edward Grimes - aka Jedward, the tuneless Irish twins who shot to infamy on The X Factor - are the most famous men in the house."

Sally Bercow, the wife of House of Commons Speaker John Bercow and "the tallest and most articulate of the 11 contestants by some way", caught the Guardian's eye: "She appears to have the brain and inclination to raise the tone of the debate in the Big Brother house," writes Allegra Stratton.

Bercow explained that she had signed up to CBB to "stick two fingers up at the Establishment" and that her husband - a Conservative MP who is already extremely unpopular with his own party - was "not exactly chuffed".

The night had begun with a fashion faux-pas when first the former face of Iceland supermarkets Kerry Katona and immediately afterwards Hollywood actress Tara Reid walked down the catwalk in similar outfits: little black dresses, and vertiginous high heels.

Reid, whose most famous part was in 1999's American Pie, had a serene look on her face and slurred her words, prompting the Guardian's live blogger Heidi Stephens to remark: "Maybe [Kerry and Tara] will find some common ground in the booze cupboard."

The other contestants are street-fighter Paddy Doherty from My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, Amy Childs of The Only Way is Essex, punk-haired paparazzo Darren Lyons, Hollyoaks actor Lucian Laviscount, Levi's jeans model Bobby Sabel and former wife of David Hasselhoff Pamela Bach.

"Who were these people?" asked Jan Moir in the Daily Mail as she watched, incredulous, the "freak show that refuses to go away. The format that just won't die". · 

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