Making a triumphant return after a six-year hiatus, the renowned British reality TV show, Celebrity Big Brother, is set to re-enter the limelight in March 2024. Following in the footsteps of its non-celebrity counterpart, which has recently experienced a successful revival on ITV, the upcoming season promises to capture the audience's attention once again.
Reminiscing about the show's vibrant history, we recall the unforgettable moment in 2010 when former Hollyoaks actor and MMA fighter, Alex Reid, etched his name in Big Brother history by clinching victory with an unprecedented 65% majority – the most substantial win ever recorded.
In an exclusive conversation with Betfred, Reid shares his perspective on the series making a comeback, delves into his personal journey with an autism diagnosis, reflecting on its impact during his time in the house, and expresses his eagerness to take centre stage in the eagerly anticipated 2024 show reboot.
Firstly, how do you feel about Big Brother making a return to TV? Are you happy to see the iconic TV show finally make a return?
“It’s got a special place in my heart. When I was on the show 13 years ago, my life was absolutely crazy, and as weird as it may sound, the Big Brother house was one of the most peaceful places I had in my reality at that time.
“I was an actor for nearly ten years before my appearance on Big Brother, I was in Hollyoaks along with some other show, and was getting myself into fights, but I was catapulted into the celebrity world in such a massive way that I didn’t know if I was coming or going, but Big Brother was that safe space for me.
“I’m excited to see the show make a comeback, and I hope ITV does a good job. For obvious reasons, I thought the Channel 4 years were the golden years; the Channel 5 version was alright, but I watched a few episodes of the Big Brother series that aired on ITV this year, and I thought it still had the right energy.”
With such a positive reaction to the show returning, would you ever want to make a return to the house?
“I would love to return to the Big Brother house next year; I think it would be a great experience, and my time in the house was one of the fondest moments of my life.
“I have three fond moments in my life, the first obviously being the birth of my children, the second being a big fight I was a part of; while I didn’t win, I won in so many other ways, as from that fight, I was trending around the world, and the third was winning Big Brother.”
“I was very different back then, and it’s taken me 45 years to discover that I have autism. Without sounding like I’m playing the victim card, I was so manipulated because I trusted everyone, and that got me into so much trouble.
“Now I have my autism diagnosis, I understand myself so much more, and I’m a very different person. I’m now a teacher and I coach other people, so I’ve had to learn how to understand myself before I can help others.”
Why do you want to return now? When you won the series back in 2010, not only did you win, but you made a statement by winning with one of the biggest majorities in Big Brother history, so is there a set reason you want to go back? Is there something you want to prove or do you want to go back for nostalgic sakes?
“The night I won Big Brother was such an amazing night, not only did I make my family proud, but I made myself proud, too. Before entering the house, I doubted myself so much to the point where I didn’t want to go in because I didn’t want to be famous for being famous. However, I was so unpopular at the time, I was on 41/1 odds to win, so I felt like I had to go on to prove everyone wrong.
“I like to compare my journey on Big Brother to Nigel Farage. When he went into the jungle on I’m a Celebrity this year, nobody liked him or understood him, but even though he didn’t win, he left a winner in my eyes as he showed everyone who he truly was and managed to win so many people over.
“When you enter shows such as I’m a Celebrity or Big Brother, you can’t put on a mask for four weeks; at some point, your mask will slip, and the public will see the real you. Even with all the fanciest editing in the world, at some point they’ll see you for who you truly are. That aspect was so great for me as people got to see the real me.
“The nostalgia part is great; it’s fun, and I joke about being away from my children for four weeks, but it’s still difficult being separated from them for so long, so it’s like a juxtaposition. However, I primarily want to go back because I’m a different person now. I didn’t understand myself back then, and I’m a different human being to who I was 13 years ago when I won the competition. Of course, there still are many similarities in my life to the person I was back then, but I’m bigger and better, and I’m keen to show people what I’m all about now.”
Who do you think will host the show next year? This year’s Big Brother saw the introduction of new hosts AJ Odudu and Will Best, but it remains unconfirmed if they will return to host Celebrity Big Brother in 2024. Despite both AJ and Will doing a great job, many fans were still calling for the return of the likes of Davina McCall and Emma Willis. In a recent statement, Davina stated she was past her Big Brother days and has changed a lot since the start of the show, but given the success of the reboot of normal Big Brother, can you imagine either Davina or Emma making a return, even if it’s just to host the Late & Lives?
“Sometimes I think change is good and it opens the door for new talent to emerge, so while I can understand why fans are upset about such an iconic part of the show being missing, I think everyone should be open to change. While I can’t imagine either Davina McCall or Emma Willis coming back to be the main hosts of the show, I can imagine them making a cameo or two during the series.”
One popular name being speculated to enter the Big Brother House next year is Rebeckah Vardy. Is this something you would like to see?
“I actually used to have a crush on Rebekah when I was little, so I’ve always loved her. While I don’t follow her career as much now, I’m aware of everything she has been caught up in recently, and I think Celebrity Big Brother would be a great opportunity for her, and I have no doubt she would make a great housemate, too.”
If you could pick the lineup for next year, who would you love to see in the house?
“Donald Trump. I know that’s not very realistic but British TV seems to love involving politicians in reality shows recently, and I’m here for it. On a more realistic note, I think it would be brilliant to see Boris Johnson make an appearance, not only would it make for great TV, but maybe he can give me some hair styling tips. Alongside him, I would also love to see Mike Tyson in there. I'm a huge fan of Mike and think I could learn a lot from him.”
Since Celebrity Big Brother last aired, a significant cultural transformation has taken place. The concept of 'celebrity' has become increasingly ambiguous, with the near certainty of witnessing at least one 'influencer' making an appearance in any celebrity-focused reality shows. While I’m sure yourself and other celebs from the early 2000s still have fans that would be excited to see you make a return to the show, some influencers have very large and vocal fanbases that will jump to vote and support them the second votes open, whereas fans from your generation may not be so quick to react. Do you think it’s unfair for influencers with such persuasive fanbases to be taking part in shows that rely on public votes?
“Absolutely, it’s unfair to an extent and is something that would worry me slightly if I were to go back into the house. Stephen Bear is a good example of this; while he had reality TV appearances, I would still class him as an influencer. He went on to win the show in 2016, and I don’t know if it would have been the same result if it weren’t for his large following.
“However, sometimes it’s not always about winning. If you make enough of an impact during your time on the show, your legacy will live forever. Take Mark Wright, for example; he just missed out on winning Big Brother but has gone on to do great things, and everyone remembers his name.”
And I just want to ask about the longevity of Big Brother. While everyone is excited for its return, do you think a couple of years down the line when maybe the novelty has worn off, Big Brother runs the risk of being taken off the air again? Especially with other reality shows that aired at a similar time, such as I’m a Celebrity, getting its worst ratings to date this year, do you think Big Brother’s return will last?
“That will undoubtedly be the case; it’s not going to be around forever, and history will repeat itself. While I believe there will be a lot of hype around the return of the show, I do believe the novelty will eventually wear off a few years down the line, and things will come to a halt again.
“However, that’s not to say that Big Brother’s legacy will not live on. The show remains popular across the world; Big Brother has and will continue to shape TV, and people will never forget about it.”