I used to really enjoy watching Big Brother.
Back when it first started, it was the TV highlight of my summer. I’d watch every episode, throw eviction night parties and I probably even voted once or twice… I was a proper fan!
Then after the ‘Who is She?!’ series with Nikki in 2006 and then the controversial Celebrity version with Jade Goody that followed a few months later, I felt I had outgrown the format and stopped watching.
Just like that, I had my summers’ back.
When it was announced that Big Brother was ending, I dipped in and out of the final series a bit (I was on maternity leave), but did not follow the show over to its new home on Channel 5.
However, this year I did catch a few snippets during the opening week of Celebrity Big Brother and found myself feeling quite intrigued by Spencer & Heidi Pratt, or Speidi, as they are now more famously known.
By week 2, if I was still awake when the show was on, I would stay up and watch the entire episode. By week 3, I was recording it on my TV planner so that I did not miss one.single.slanging.match.
Now, I did know about Speidi already. I’ve watched The Hills before and been reading about them in gossip mags at the hairdressers for many years. I do not think anyone said a nice word about them in either.
In The Hills, Spencer allegedly spread sex tape rumours about fellow cast member, Lauren Conrad, who was Heidi’s best friend at the time. This led to a massive falling out, with Lauren insisting that Heidi make a choice between her or Spencer. Heidi stuck by her man, who denied any involvement in the rumours, but the bust up led to the whole group being divided and eventually even Spencer’s best mate, Brody, turned his back on the couple.
Intentionally or not, Speidi became the villains of reality TV and with this, their fame was sealed.
They have since appeared on various other reality shows, each time with Spencer always playing the pantomime villain.
This is their job.
They are not actors, musicians, athletes, models or politicians by day.
They are two young kids, who probably did make a few mistakes, but unlike you, me and most other teenagers we know – their mistakes were documented and broadcast for everyone to tut over and condemn to the land of all things that are evil.
Not that I feel particularly sorry for them, they chose this path and have made a lot of money along the way by playing ‘themselves’.
It must take a lot of effort to enter into these shows, knowing full well what is expected of you and that come the end of your contract, if you are even more hated by the public, it means that you have done your job well and your next pay cheque is guaranteed.
That is a pretty full-on career choice and one where a thick skin must be a prerequisite. You’d certainly have to learn how not to care about what people think of you. Find a way to turn off the switch.
No matter how big the salary, I would never have what it takes to do their job. I am not a big fan of confrontation and do not like to upset people. I prefer to be liked. I like to like my friends. I like my friends to like me.
Spencer admitted in his post-eviction interview that the couple no longer have any friends, so are even more guarded around new people. Keeping a safe emotional distance is probably the only way they know they will be able to finish what they set out to do.
They really have made a commitment to this kind of life.
Inviting them onto Celebrity Big Brother was genius. They totally made the show this year. They were at the centre of every conflict, every headline and every eviction interview.
Everyone was talking about Speidi.
But for Speidi, it was just another reality TV show. Just another buck to make. They did their job and they did it well.
What they did not prepare for, was being in a house with people who did not share the same experience of the game.
Fellow housemates who were loved and supported by family and friends outside and genuinely needed the connection with people on the inside to help get them through.
People who do not make their living out of being disliked. If anything, the complete opposite is true for them.
I think that is why Speidi found their time in the house so difficult. Nobody else was playing the game by the same rules.
Initially, I think they probably did quite like a few of the other housemates. Heidi, I am sure most definitely did. I think she is the softer of the two, much more sensitive than she pretends to be, but she knows what she has signed up for and flicks the off switch.
Even if they did want to explore that possibility, nobody wants to watch them playing nice and making friends, and certainly nobody wants to pay them to do that.
They came out of the house to boos, still smiling and shrugged off all the negative comments. All just another game to them and they played a blinder.
It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there like that and not give a shit.
Do I think they should have won Celebrity Big Brother? For that reason alone, maybe.
But I am pleased they didn’t.