Entertainment

Celebrity Big Brother’s controversies: From Jack Dee’s escape to explosive rows

Dee first tried to dig his way out of the house with a rake, then he realised he could simply walk out of the back gate.

Jack Dee escaped from the Big Brother house
Jack Dee Jack Dee escaped from the Big Brother house (Ian West/PA)

Celebrity Big Brother has been hit by a series of chaotic moments from the very first season, and its return to ITV might well bring more.

The initial run in 2001, a year after the regular series became a ratings hit for Channel 4, saw Jack Dee make a short-lived attempt to leave, before he returned and went on to win the show.

The comedian and actor had been persuaded to do the show for the BBC’s Comic Relief, but after managing to avoid eviction he decided to leave.

Winner of Celebrity Big Brother Comic Relief, Jack Dee
Big Brother Jack wins Winner of Celebrity Big Brother Comic Relief, Jack Dee (Toby Melville/PA)

He first tried to dig his way out of the house with a rake, then he opted for the gate, which he just walked through.

Dee evaded security at the studios for about an hour, before he was found with mud smeared on his face as “camouflage” and taken back to the Big Brother house.

Here is a round-up of other stand-out moments before the format airs on ITV on Monday:

Amanda Holden and then husband Les Dennis
Amanda Holden Amanda Holden and then husband Les Dennis (William Conran/PA)

– Les Dennis down in the dumps

In 2002, comedian and Family Fortunes presenter Les Dennis went into the house still dealing with his break-up from then wife Amanda Holden.

He brought the mood down, complaining to everyone – even the house chickens and Big Brother – about how miserable he was.

Dennis did eventually become a runner-up, earning sympathy from viewers.

Jacqueline Stallone was the first housemate to be evicted from the Celebrity Big Brother house in 2005
Jackie Stallone Jacqueline Stallone was the first housemate to be evicted from the Celebrity Big Brother house in 2005

– Jackie Stallone suffers without servants

Jackie Stallone, mother of Hollywood actor Sylvester Stallone, entered the house with the words “Yeah, Jackie!” in 2005.

She arrived after her former daughter-in-law, Brigitte Nielsen, about whom she had been very outspoken. They resolved their differences in the house.

The former wrestling promoter had difficulties with the other housemates and claimed to be unable to do simple tasks such as make a cup of tea or open a bottle of wine, saying such things were normally done by her staff.

Stallone died in 2020 aged 98.

George Galloway
Rochdale by-election George Galloway (James Speakman/PA)

– George Galloway pretends to be a cat

George Galloway, who was recently elected MP for Rochdale, attracted anger from the public when he entered the house in 2006.

A website was set up calculating the amount of council tax his then Bethnal Green and Bow constituents were paying while he was in the reality show.

He and Coronation Street actress Rula Lenska took a shopping task to ridiculous levels.

Galloway got down on all fours pretending to be a cat, while Lenska fussed over him and let him pretend to lap milk from a saucer.

Chantelle Houghton talks to Preston
Big Brother Chantelle Houghton talks to Preston (Yui Mok/PA)

– Preston and Chantelle, a reality love story 

Chantelle Houghton, who had worked as a Paris Hilton lookalike, entered the house in 2006 and was tasked with fooling the celebrities that she was in a girl band, which she did.

She also developed a relationship with The Ordinary Boys singer Preston, real name Samuel Preston, and the two married after leaving the house.

The relationship was short-lived and ended in 2007.

Shilpa Shetty
Shilpa Shetty Shilpa Shetty (Ian West/PA)

– Bullying in the BB house

The late reality TV star Jade Goody, glamour model Danielle Lloyd and S Club star Jo O’Meara were accused of racism, over a row with Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty in 2007.

Complaints from viewers about the behaviour and comments made by the three women reached 45,000 and the show even sparked censure from politicians.

Media watchdog Ofcom singled out three occasions where it felt Channel 4 had failed its code of conduct.

Goody left after she and Shetty had a row over a chicken.

Shetty forgave her and when Goody died in 2009, after a cancer diagnosis, the then-prime minister Gordon Brown was among those who paid tribute.

Alex Reid
Alex Reid Alex Reid (Ian West/PA)

– Alex Reid prays for salvation

Born-again Christian and actor Stephen Baldwin, the brother of 30 Rock star Alec Baldwin, went into the house in 2010 on the condition he was allowed to read the Bible for an hour a day.

He also took it upon himself to share his religious learning with the rest of the housemates, and TV personality Katie Price’s then partner Alex Reid was one of the few to hear him out.

In one exchange, Baldwin told Reid: “God has a plan for you brother, he wants to reveal it to you, to show it to you.”

Reid replied: “I’m willing to believe.”

Baldwin then led Reid, who was a mixed martial artist (MMA) and went on to win the final Channel 4-hosted series, in a prayer of salvation.

Christopher Biggins was removed from Big Brother
Christopher Biggins Christopher Biggins was removed from Big Brother (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

– Christopher Biggins removed

In 2016, pantomime star Christopher Biggins was removed from the Channel 5 show for making a number of comments, including the suggestion that bisexual people were responsible for spreading Aids.

The show said at the time: “Since entering Big Brother, he has made a number of comments capable of causing great offence to housemates and the viewing public.

“Big Brother does not tolerate offensive language capable of causing widespread offence.”

Tiffany Pollard leaves the Celebrity Big Brother house
Celebrity Big Brother 2016 Tiffany Pollard leaves the Celebrity Big Brother house (Ian West/PA)

– David Bowie dying

More than 200 people complained after Channel 5 aired scenes in 2016 in which American TV personality Tiffany Pollard mistakenly thought fellow contestant David Gest had died.

The reality star became hysterical when Angie Bowie confided in her that ”David’s dead” – after she was told that her former husband David Bowie had died.

Gest had been having a nap at the time.

The 62-year-old producer died three months later, and Pollard was forced to remove David Is Dead slogan T-shirts from her website.

Presenter Emma Willis with Kim Woodburn
Celebrity Big Brother 2017 Presenter Emma Willis with Kim Woodburn (Ian West/PA)

– Kim Woodburn kicked out

In 2017, How Clean Is Your House? star Kim Woodburn, one half of the TV cleaning team, with Aggie MacKenzie, was removed from the Celebrity Big Brother house by security after an explosive argument with several housemates.

As she was removed she called her fellow housemates “chinless wonders”.

Ryan Thomas
Ryan Thomas Ryan Thomas (Ian West/PA)

– Ryan Thomas’ scared of punch drama

Soap star Ryan Thomas won the last Channel 5 series of Celebrity Big Brother in 2018, and during his time on the show was embroiled in a scandal after actress Roxanne Pallett claimed he had deliberately hurt her with a punch.

Viewers defended this as play-fighting and Thomas was played the clip of the incident during his post-eviction interview, when he told host Emma Willis how scared he had been when the drama unfolded.

Thomas is currently competing on Dancing On Ice.

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