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Forget things that matter.

Byline: By Ceri Williams

What impeccable timing from the bosses of Celebrity Big Brother! It is just a few days into the New Year, and many of us have not long escaped being cooped up in a confined space with people with whom we have nothing in common.

So now, what better cathartic pleasure than to watch others - and 'celebrities' at that - endure the same sentence with the added sauce of being filmed 24 hours?

Of course, the likes of Donny Tourette, Danielle Lloyd and Rhondda-born Ian Watkins (H in Steps), pictured right, - all confirmed contestants in CBB2007 which starts tomorrow - are getting paid for their troubles.

But let's not hear any sanctimonious griping about greedy C-listers and our own complicit appetite for trashy TV.

Aren't they worth the money - especially when it's not on your credit card in the sales - as a kind of payback for everything you have tolerated in the past fortnight or so?

Watch them suffer other people's emotional and physical fumes as well as their voices, attitudes and dress sense! Bringing it all back to you, is it?

Calm down and watch the likes of Robert Kilroy-Silk, Lauren Harries and Jason and Lizzie Cundy. (Not knowing who most of these people are is part of the fun. It's what's called an education these days.)

In case you enjoyed too much Radio 4 over Christmas, Lauren Harries is the Cardiff-based character who came to the public's attention in an appearance on Wogan in 1988 as a 10-year-old 'antiques expert' called James Harries - and went on to have a sex change in 2001.

Danielle Lloyd was stripped of her Miss Great Britain 2006 title after it was discovered she was dating one of the judges, footballer Teddy Sheringham.

And MEP Robert Kilroy-Silk is the former television host and Labour MP who set up his own political party, Veritas, in 2001 and later resigned as leader.

What a distance we have travelled from the days just after Christ was born in Bethlehem. Then the talk well into the New Year was surely about the Three Kings and shepherds rushing to see our saviour, with a major scoop about Herod thrown in as an antidote to too much goody-two-shoes stuff.

All these centuries later, we learn that Jade Goody - who first 'made a name for herself' in the ordinary rabble version of Big Brother - will be joining the Celebrity Big Brother house.

Her entourage will include her lover, Jack Tweedy, 19, her mum Jackie, a woman who last year had pounds 125,000 of cosmetic surgery on a makeover show and is described as 'not exactly shy', and her grandmother, Jacqueline, who was jailed for shoplifting in 2003. (What shall they bring? Something nicked, of course.)

And who were Mary and Joseph? Hear this! Former Tottenham and Chelsea defender Jason Cundy and his wife, Lizzie, are set to become the first couple on Celebrity Big Brother.

In among the speculation, other 'definites' are said to include Paul Michael Glaser, who played Starsky in the 1970s detective series Starsky and Hutch and whose wife and daughter died of Aids.

But it's not all done and dusted. Rumours prevail - heard the one about US rapper Lil' Kim arguing with Big Brother bosses over demands for pounds 500,000 to turn up?

And so to the build-up which has taken on the detailed and extravagant coverage of a royal wedding.

Long gone is the era when print journalism's finest flexed their wits tracking down stories about murder, mayhem and political intrigue. Say farewell to the era when flimsy, girly stories were frowned on, and hardened hacks rolled up their shirtsleeves, put their foot in the door and banged out 'hard news' on typewriters.

The first few days of 2007 have proved what sort of scoop really matters - who is to appear in this year's Celebrity Big Brother? Stop the press!

Once having established which predictables were missing from this year's panto list, it must have been relatively plain sailing to discover their absence was due to being 'otherwise engaged' on Celebrity Big Brother though Ian Watkins managed to play Buttons and get in the house.

(The national body for amateur dramatics has suggested Big Brother could be turned into a pantomime as part of a revamp of the festive tradition and aren't former contestants tailor-made for it? 'Nasty' Nick Bateman as a baddie in the King Rat mold, Jade Goody as a Cinderella figure who rises from reality humiliation to a slimmed-down millionaire and yummy mummy Davina McCall as the Fairy Queen.)

What can we expect from CBB07? Middle-youth viewers should prepare to 'feel their age' as wild punk rocker Danny Tourette - who has been having what has been called an 'on-off relationship with Peaches Geldof - will show how original it is to be part of the music industry.

And there should be plenty of pouting from Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty (careful how you say that one) who is said to be getting pounds 300,000 to enter the house.

Presumably this is to up what the tabloids will refer to as the 'totty' quota, not least because Big Brother bosses are said to be hoping for ground-breaking television with 'the steamiest show yet'.

Housemates may be given the 'saucy task of raising each other's heart rates by flirting' in what's being called The Dinner Date challenge, according to one newspaper.

With show bosses keen to boost ratings with another Preston and Chantelle, housemates - including 23-year-old Danielle - will be paired with the person they find most attractive while fitted with special heart-rate monitors.

In a distant age, people were charged with keeping New Year's resolutions such as 'be a better person'.

The 2007 celebrity house lot must seduce, flirt and do whatever it takes to get their partners' pulse rates soaring.

The courtship will be 'performed' at a candlelit table for two minutes while fellow housemates - and the rest of us - look on. The couple with the highest readings win the task. At the very least this lot will provide plenty of clips for next year's Look Back at 2007 compilation programme, in the same way politician George Galloway purring like a pussycat in the knees of Rula Lenska made this year's nostalgia fest such a chillingly memorable occasion. At a time when war takes lives and Tony Blair takes up the hospitality of a Bee Gee for his Christmas break, we will be lapping up our nightly helpings of Celebrity Big Brother. After all, there's nothing like feeling part of history in the making is there?
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 3, 2007
Words:1095
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