Ah, the start of January where some shows are either returning from a brief hiatus or going on them and also that time of year when Channel 5 dole out the first of two editions of Celebrity Big Brother as the civilian version continues to lose people.
And our 16 celebrities (now 15) this year are journalist Rachel Johnson, Kardashian friend Malika Haqq, Rochdale detective, Maggie Oliver, former Corrie actress Amanda Barrie, DJ Ashley James, former MP Ann Widdecomb, reality TV star Jess Impiazzi and trans journalist/TV presenter India Willoughby. For the first four days and keeping with the Year Of The Woman subtitle, it was a girls only house but by the fourth day the boys were also added into the mix. For the lads this included various reality people like Shane Jenek/Courtney Act, Andrew Brady, Dapper Laughs, Jonny Mitchell as well as 90s r'n'b singer, Ginuwine, former Boyzone star Shane Lynch, footballer John Barnes and ballet dancer, Wayne Sleep.
In recent months, the #MeToo campaign has been very prominent in the public eye, given the fallout of the recent Harvey Weinstein scandals and with gender based issues being more prominent in the media as well just of late, I wasn't entirely sure that it was a good idea as such to have this as a theme for the new series. Given that social media has become too conflated in the issue at times here, having this could've put some viewers off but it seems to have for the first fortnight generated some interesting debates among both male and female housemates as India vocally discussed her own issues as a transwoman while Courtney Act also provided some insightful commentary into gender issues as well for certain housemates. I have to admit there was also a good discussion among the lads over the likes of Weinstein and Trump earlier in the week as well.
Speaking of India though, she was the first housemate to leave in last night's eviction episode, which allowed Jonny Mitchell another week in the house and I have to admit to being genuinely surprised that she left. Given the show's overt love of conflict and the fact that India was providing it in spades, I genuinely thought that would've kept her in the house for a bit longer. When it comes to India, the only thing I can say is that she really was her own worst enemy in the house. While Courtney/Shane was a lot more patient and willing to explain things to other housemates, India always seemed to be in defense mode and in the end it became her own undoing. In a way, it's a shame because in her exit interview with Emma Willis, India was quite calm and reflective and had we seen that side of her in the house, she really could've gone far in the house.
As for the rest of the house, I have to admit there are a lot of people I really like in this current series. It should without saying how fantastic I think Courtney/Shane J is but there's also the likes of Shane Lynch (his discussion about former band member, Stephen Gately was lovely), as well as Ashley, Jess and Malika all being likeable. Amanda has endeared herself as well with her own frank discussions and being unafraid to call India out on things and I can't fault the likes of Rachel, Ginuwine, Wayne or John either. In terms of least favourites I guess it's going to be Ann Widdecombe (some of her comments are horrific, though Shane J is brilliant at cutting her down to size) or Dapper, whose laddish humour (and I don't generally mind laddish humour) is just a bit much at times. Andrew and Jonny are reasonably inoffensive although the latter needs to come out of his shell a bit more. I'm not particularly interested in the blatant showmance between Ashley and Ginuwine, though it's nowhere near as cloying as past ones we've had while the bromance between Andrew and Shane J/Courtney has been entertaining enough. Even some of the cliched gender based tasks have been surprisingly amusing at times. Of course there's another fortnight or so to go so whether or not this current series can maintain it's entertainment value is hard to tell.
Celebrity Big Brother airs Mondays-Sundays on Channel 5 from 9pm.