Promising start to Big Brother but what does Germaine Greer think she's doing?
Saturday January 8, 2005
You know how it is. You wake up in the morning with a bit of a hangover. Somehow you manage to force open one eye. Hmmm, unfamiliar lime green walls - this doesn't look like home. You open the other eye, and of course the first thing you discover is that not only are you not at home, but neither are you alone. Then, through your hangover fug, you begin to remember ... Oh God, what have I gone and done?
That's probably how it is for Germaine Greer, certainly that's what she should be thinking. And it isn't just one other person she's waking up with, there are seven of them. Hardly top pulls either.
There's a fading DJ; a maniacal, drug-fuelled dancer; an Amazonian former Mrs Sylvester Stallone; a Hollyoaks actor no one's ever heard of who apparently was dumped by his more famous girlfriend, probably for not being famous enough; a Barbie doll; a member of Blazin' Squad; and a sexist, flatulent racing tipster with lots of hair in all the wrong places and no hair in all the right places.
To top it all, the sound of out-of-tune bagpipes is being blasted into the room to get them all up. Normally, Germaine Greer wakes up in a beautiful country house surrounded by books and ducks and things she loves. No wonder she's looking so thunderously cross.
But she's only got one person to blame. What was she thinking? She's a feminist icon, a thinker. Does she really need this? Or think it will help her in any way? And has she forgotten that she once said Big Brother was "as dignified as looking through the keyhole in your teenage child's bedroom door." Is looking through your granny's keyhole any more dignified?
You've a lot of explaining to do when you come out, Prof Greer. And if you're doing it because you think you're going to win the £50,000 for Save the Australian Jungle or whoever, the bookies don't agree, I'm afraid.
For the programme makers, Greer is an important ingredient, the secret weapon they hope will rescue the show from the groans that usually now follow any mention of Big Brother. They've got their weirdos and their pretty boys and girls and their obnoxious pig, the people who are trying to rescue wilting careers.
Greer will provide the grey matter, perhaps attract a brainier viewer. Who knows, even the odd Guardian reader may now tune in.
And she's also there to go head to head with the racing tipster who said, before going in and before he knew who his housemates were, that his nightmare housemate would be "a flat-chested, bossy woman - someone like Germaine Greer".
It all started quite promisingly. The racing tipster revealed himself not only to be a farter and a Bush supporter, but also a bit seedy.
"Are you the totty?" he asked the Barbie doll. He also confessed to a love of big breasts (his dog is called Double D, his wife Booby, although he claims the latter is after a South American bird.)
So far Greer has scowled rather than exploded, though she did tell him to leave the Barbie girl alone. It won't be long though. Let's just hope that the public don't ruin the show completely by voting one of them off.
None of the others has got much of a word in yet, or shown any signs of being in any way interesting. The Amazon is perhaps the best hope. She sleeps outside and was spotted removing her engagement ring soon after entering the house. Perhaps she will be fighting over the poor boy from Blazin' Squad with Germaine Greer, who was looking quite fondly at him a one point. I wonder if he's read, or is aware of The Boy, Greer's celebration of the beauty of young men.
Back to the morning, and Greer's grumpy look doesn't last long. And she manages to make herself look less like a sheep when she finds a brush. I never thought I'd get to see Germaine Greer first thing in the morning.
Soon she's in charge, bossing the kitchen, and spouting off on everything - birds, Bush, bathing, squirrels, outside loos, water beds, aborigines, the land tenure system in Australia.
Some of them try to keep up and to engage, others don't bother. The tipster automatically disagrees with her on everything, and it's mainly a bickering match between the two of them. And, though I thought this would save the show, it's actually fantastically boring. Quick, give them a task, or some animals, a baby, anything. Spike their drinking water with hallucinogenic drugs.
Because I don't know about the nation, but I'm not sure I've got the appetite to go through all this again, especially so soon after those other so-called celebrities in the jungle too.
Australia, east London, house, camp, it's all the same really. And I think I've had enough, even with a feminist icon in there.
Perhaps the person who reflects the whole thing best is not Germaine Greer, who doesn't appear to be regretting her decision, as she should be, but the maniacal dancer who often has his head buried in his hands, especially when Germaine Greer's rabbiting on. I'm with you Bez.
· Sam Wollaston is the Guardian's television critic
Germaine Greer writer and academic
Brigitte Nielsen actor
John McCririck racing expert
Lisa I'Anson DJ
Jeremy Edwards actor
Kenzie of Blazin' SquadBez dancer