So the most controversial series of Big Brother ever, the ultimate in car crash TV, was beaten in the ratings by a real life car crash – the return of Top Gear, complete with exclusive footage of the crash that nearly took the life of Richard Hammond.
Anyway, Top Gear first. Not surprisingly they made a big song and dance about having the Hamster back – quite literally. Clarkson and May opened the show alone, and then having done their opening spiel, introduced Hammond who came down a sort of slightly cheap effort at a glittering celeb style staircase – as Clarkson said, they didn’t really want to spend too much on it! After that Hammond thanked everybody involved in the aftermath of the accident, and people for all their good wishes, and the show proceeded very much as any normal episode. We had Clarkson taking the new Jaguar around the track, and all three of the presenters attempting to complete some roadworks in record time, and the star in a reasonably priced car was Jamie Oliver. Then we got to the main event. If you’ve read the Richard Hammond article in the most recent edition of the Top Gear Magazine this was effectively the same thing but with pictures. So we saw Richard Hammond do one of his pieces to camera where he rather prophetically says that using the afterburner could lead to the biggest accident you’ve ever seen in your life… We saw his earlier runs, and then the actual run that went wrong. There has been concern over whether the footage should be shown at all – Richard Hammond himself addresses it on his Top Gear Blog. He quite rightly says that although it is sensitive, the footage should be shown, precisely to show that things do go wrong, and that even with all the safety equipment and every care being taken, things do go wrong. As he says:
I figure that if just one individual scorching round the back roads in their hot hatch remembers seeing me upside down at 230mph and thinks that yes, if things can go that badly wrong in Top Gear’s TV fantasy world then they could in the real world, and they lift off because there might just be a tractor coming round that blind corner at the worst possible moment, then it’s all been worth it.
So over to the other side, and the final of Celebrity Big Brother. Really there were no surprises – indeed I actually pretty well predicted the final order on Friday night. Danielle and Jack came out first. Although they came out together, officially Jack was in sixth, with Danielle in fifth. They were greeted by pretty unanimous booing, and as with Jo and Jade got the now familiar selection of clips, were speechless, and denied being racist. Ian was out next to a warm reception from the crowd – as Davina said, the first evictee not to be booed. Dirk was up next, again to a good reception – with parts of the crowd singing the A-Team theme. Then it came down to the final two, with Jermaine Jackson coming in second to a great response, complete with a Jackson Five sing-along.
Finally we had Shilpa, and a really quite surprising reaction from parts of the crowd. It was really apparent that there was a vocal minority in the crowd who really didn’t like Shilpa. I think it’s perhaps the first time that a winner has had quite such a mixed reaction. In terms of the voting, she had 63% of the final vote, so it was a win by a good margin, but clearly she is a contestant that divided opinion. Indeed some people even believed it was fixed.
We then got to the interview. It is interesting to note, that in her earlier interview, Danielle had been asked how she thought Shilpa would react when she saw the same clips, to which Danielle responded that she would be forgiving. That produced a decidedly grumbly reaction from the audience – but in fact proved to be right.
Shilpa was shown all the key clips, and all the things that had been said about her behind her back, and was quite visibly shocked. However in response she was anything if not magnanimous:
I just want to forget things. Things happen and people make mistakes. We’re all human beings, we’re all fallible. Jade didn’t mean to be racist…If this created any sort of misunderstanding, I want to put things to rest – she is not a racist…I am so happy I took up this opportunity. I don’t want people to think they welcomed an Indian and she made trouble here.
Those sentiments were further reiterated at the post show press conference when Shilpa along with the other celebrities defended Jade and also backed a tearful Danielle when she appeared to face the press.
Needless to say, the pleas have fallen on somewhat deaf ears with the tabloid press – having had Jade, and then Jo, they are now concentrating on Danielle, whose relationship with Teddy Sheringham is now the subject of ‘talks‘.
So fairly obviously, Jade, Jo and Danielle have done serious damage to their careers through the events of the programme, whilst Shilpa has gone from being unknown to being probably the best known Indian celebrity in the UK. I expect to see more of Ian and Dirk in the UK over the coming months too. Perhaps the most interesting bit of information to come up is that Jermaine Jackson is actually putting together a musical about his family that will be launched in the UK – expect many more sing-along a Jackson Five to come…