My Experience as Big Brother Housemate!
Back in 2012, I auditioned for Big Brother. I made it to the last stage of the long and challenging audition process. I was shortlisted into the final 50 potential housemates. Sadly I didn’t make the cut and wasn’t part of the 2012 summer series.
Towards the end of the year, I received a phone call from Big Brother. It was one of the producers. They explained to me that Big Brother runs a ‘Rehearsal Housemate’ program. What this meant was that housemates who Big Brother felt they had ‘missed a trick on’ and ‘may have turned out to be brilliant housemates’ would get a chance to re-audition. This wasn’t just a regular audition, this was pitched to me as the ‘ultimate audition’, for a very good reason. It was going to take place in the actual Big Brother house, under the same conditions as the show.
Apparently every year before the Celebrity series, Big Brother would have this trial run for a few select people who auditioned that missed out on the summer series. It served two purposes as it also gave them a chance to see if the Celebrity Big Brother house was functioning properly and suitable to be lived in.
This was a dream come true. I couldn’t believe I had been asked to go and live in the Big Brother House under the same conditions as the program. The rehearsal period ran for 3 days and 1 morning. I was excited beyond belief, I felt this was my big shot at success. As a kid, I had always dreamed about being in Big Brother. I’d visualise myself in the house and on the program, working out ways to be entertaining even whilst I was brushing my teeth!
I loved the whole concept of Big Brother as it focused on the personality element of the contestants. It never used to be about how clever you were and who you knew. It was a pure personality driven program. The absolutely perfect format for me. A place for me to be finally valued and appreciated. A vehicle to expose my talent.
December 2012: I arrived at Elstree Borehamwood station and was greeted by a nice lady from the production staff. I had been given a codename to protect my identity. My codename was ‘grey’. I joked with her and said, “I suppose you were expecting someone super depressed and miserable looking?”.
On arrival, the television people treated me like royalty and I was immediately booked into a posh hotel. From my room window, I could see the car-park below. I tried to gauge what sort of people stayed at the hotel by what cars they had. It was typically full of obvious choices: higher end German cars, Ranger Rovers and not to forget: the almighty Toyota Yaris. It wasn’t exactly interesting.
I thought the car park was about to be redeemed when a black Ferrari 458 Italia pulled up. This excited my inner-Clarkson. Unfortunately, all the ‘cool-points’ diminished as the driver whilst exiting the vehicle deployed his matching Ferrari gym back. Tragic.
I was surprised how everyone who walked past the Ferrari didn’t give it a second look. It then dawned on me that it was quite evident no-one was interested in cars by the choices in the car park.
I was surprised just how modern this hotel was. Light switches were a thing of the past as the lights were now operated by what seemed to be a magic card. The expensive surroundings seemed to challenge my reality star wannabe brain as I remained perplexed by the lack of a light switch. Alone in my expensive suite, I had succumbed to the idea of sleeping with the lights on. Until of course, I discovered the magic card that thankfully mended all my woes.
After my luxurious stay at the hotel, the next day I was transferred to the television studios where they continued my lavish treatment. A security guard patted me down and ran his hands across my armpits. However, he didn’t find a concealed weapon, what he did find were large sweat patches. A friendly woman escorted me to my own dressing room and I took a seat in my designated chair.
The dressing room wasn’t exactly high end. I had a good view of the Big Brother House. I couldn’t wait to get in. My date with destiny. The carpet had a strange design with fire breathing dragons around the edge. Or maybe they were devils, it was like a Satanists carpet! There was a red cloth sofa in the room with a suspicious stain on the seat. I could only assume a previous housemate had got very nervous before entering the house. That gave ‘launch night’ a whole new meaning!
I was now looking at myself in a Hollywood style mirror. This was the sort of mirror you’d see backstage at a big production. A massive sheet of glass with light bulbs all around the edges, illuminating my excited face. As far as I was now concerned, this was it. I was now part of the television industry and not just a part, a star.
Eventually, I was escorted out of the dressing room and up to the stairs of the Big Brother House outside of the ‘front door’. It was a mirrored door in the shape of a shattered Big Brother style eye. I could partially see my reflection in it. This is a door I had seen so many times on TV. Now I was here, standing in front of it ready to go in and be a Big Brother Housemate. I couldn’t believe it. It was a dream come true.
Day 1: IN THE BIG BROTHER HOUSE!:
Ten applicants (including myself) were chosen to take part in this non-televised trial run. I now had three days on set to show the producers what I was capable of. Equipped with a variety of different outfits, terrible jokes and three gallons of hairspray, I was determined to get their attention. We all entered the house one by one. I was the second person to come in. After everybody entered we had a short time talking together until Big Brother announced that the garden was now open.
The only existing footage from our time in the house shows the moment directly after when the garden was announced as open. Channel 5 leaked the footage, whether it was intentional or not I have no idea. I’ve had it ever since and it can be viewed on my YouTube channel. I can be seen in the amazing red floral shirt (yes I have great taste, I know. I’ll thank you in advance!). I was very lucky to be included in that clip as the majority of the other Housemates were nowhere to be seen!
After we had settled in and chosen our beds a strange sound came from the living room. It was coming from a vending machine that was named ‘Big Vendor’. It started to talk. I’m in the Big Brother House now being spoken to be a vending machine. I’m either on heavy drugs or making my dreams a reality.
Big Vendor in ‘her’ robotic voice asked me and another housemate to step forwards. We were assigned as team captains. We were then told to pick our teams, each choosing one person at a time. At this point, we hadn’t really had too much time together as a group and I hadn’t remembered everyone’s names. This is not especially helpful if you’re having to say their name to choose them for your team. I couldn’t exactly point and say ‘I want you!’. I was hoping that the other team captain would choose people whose names I didn’t remember. Thankfully, he did.
Once the teams were established Big Vendor explained what we had to do. The winners of this task would receive a party in the house, the losers of the task will be locked in the bedroom for most of the evening. Inside Big Vendor were numerous things we could choose for our team. Each team captain could choose one item from Big Vendor to aid us in the task. Big Vendor said we had all been boring and Big Vendor wanted some entertainment. Whichever team entertained Big Vendor the most would win.
The opposing team chose a mask out of Big Vendor which represented costumes. We decided on music because one of the members of my team taught dance for a living. The other team went to rehearse in the bedroom and I told them to get used to it because they’d be spending a lot of time in there when they inevitably lose!
Our team dynamics were terrible. We had someone who was super bossy and competitive. I expected the dance teacher to take the lead, she didn’t. She was totally useless, I have no idea who or what kind of dance she taught but it was rubbish. Our routine was appalling, but it’s all we had.
Someone must have been spying on our group because when it came to performing, the opposing team had the exact same storyline to their routine. This can’t have been a coincidence. Our performance was similar, but thankfully it went well. Probably because I had a leading role. We now waited for Big Vendor to decide which team was the winner.
Big Vendor annoyingly announced the other team as the victors. We were told we would only have a short period of time before we’d have to vacate the living room and spend the evening locked in the bedroom. My main concern was dinner. I didn’t think we’d end up getting it, or we’d end up eating really late. So I went in the kitchen and ate a packet of prawn cocktail crisps at the fastest rate ever seen to man. I’m sure it was a Guinness world record. The other housemates laughed as I rammed them in.
My first day on set was going well until later that evening things started to go seriously downhill. I somehow managed to get into my first ever reality TV argument. One of my fellow contestants decided to have a partial meltdown due to the fact that I wanted to wash my drinking glass separately and at a later time. After being told what a terrible person I was, I tried to enjoy the rest of my evening.
Every night going to bed in the house I would work out my nominations and reasons for that nomination, in case we ever had to nominate. I wanted to be prepared. Spoiler: We never had to nominate.
DAY 2: IN THE BIG BROTHER HOUSE!:
The next day we were set another task. In the garden, there was a water tank, above it was a platform which housemates must sit on in turns above the water. Two housemates would be in the diary room and asked questions about their fellow housemates (referencing our application forms). If the two housemates guessed correctly the housemate would not get dunked in the water. Also for every correct answer, they would win one takeaway meal for the house. They provided us with wetsuits. My wetsuit was a complete nightmare, it was too small so it took a lot of swearing and struggling to get it on.
I was the last to sit on the dipping board. They asked the two housemates in the diary room ‘Is it true that Zach had a number 68 single in Malta? They got it correct. It’s true, it’s a called ‘Questo non è vero’. Actually, it’s false and never happened, but it should have!
Later that evening all my fellow housemates were jumping in the hot tub. I got into my shorts ready to have a quick bath, but then the housemate who I had the argument with the day before said that if I came into the hot tub she’d show me her breasts. I suppose this was her way to apologise to me. So I then weighed up the options of having a bath or seeing her breasts. I decided her breasts were more important than my bath.
After she showed everyone in the hot tub what was under her bathing costume, everyone started playing the drinking game ‘21’. I played a few rounds and never lost. I didn’t like the drinking game so I got out of the hot tub and went for a swim in the pool. I remember looking up at the Big Brother surrounding walls and it was still hard to believe where I was. That moment has always stuck with me.
DAY 3: IN THE BIG BROTHER HOUSE!:
On our final day, we were set a task by the producers. Each one of us would get a chance to become what they dubbed as ‘Star of the show’. This meant that in turns we would have to entertain a live audience who were watching us from behind the cameras. Our job was to accumulate as many laughs as possible from the audience (watching us in the house).
We would be victorious if the number of laughs added up to a mystery total set by the producers. The task started and immediately I made sure to surround myself with the first person who was selected as the star of the show. I was eager for us to win the task, so I tried to help them be as funny as possible. None of us knew how long our turn would be, so this created a sense of urgency.
I was so eager in helping that when it came for the producers to choose who the next star of the show would be, naturally they chose me. This was my test. I had been so good at giving advice to the first person doing it by trying to encourage them to be funny. Now it was time to put my money where my mouth was. I was now deemed star of the show.
Being unsure how long I had, I dashed around the set like a mad person. For some reason I couldn’t improvise standing still, I needed stimulus. I quickly darted around from room to room, out to the garden. I danced with the household broom and went out to the igloo and kissed the giant bison head on the lips. Thankfully, I was gaining many laughs.
My erratic behaviour was soon put to an end after the producers asked me if I could stop moving around so much as it was very difficult to follow me with the cameras as they had to keep switching to where-ever I was. I soon apologised and they sent me on my way to carry on with the task, but with a twist. Leaving the diary room, they wanted me to do a comical but safe dramatic fall outside of the door, I of course trying to sell my soul happily agreed. Leaving the room, I performed my great comedic tumble falling over the step I had successfully navigated for the past few days.
As I said, only one person had a turn before me, and before the task started we were told that all housemates would get a go. What must have been hours later I was still the star of the show. Still performing to an audience I couldn’t see and receiving a laugh track every time I successfully managed to make them laugh. I wish I had that in real life!
The task went on for so long that they actually stopped the task for a lunch break. Once our lunch break was over, the task was announced to be restarting and I was prepared to give someone else a chance. The task started again and it was announced that I was still the star of the show. This was exhausting having to constantly improvise and be funny, but I was so pleased. This was the perfect opportunity to give everything I have, nowhere to hide, just my personality and comedic talent totally exposed. The kind of environment and platform I had always wanted.
Eventually, the task ended, nobody else got a turn other than the first person and myself. I felt bad for the other contestants, but it was a competitive environment. This must have meant the producers liked me and I was super entertaining! Later that evening the results were announced, we had won. Big Brother’s envelope stipulated that we needed 25 laughs to win the task. We (well me) had accumulated 71!
We all enjoyed our last night in the house. Big Brother called me into the diary room and asked me how I had found the whole experience. They asked me to rate it out of 10. I said to them “The boring answer would be to say ‘11’ so I’ll give it a 10. You’d be pretty annoyed if I said ‘oh about a 6, I’ve had better’.”. The real diary room chair they were going to use for the celebrity series was covered with a black cloth. I suppose they didn’t want to run the risk of us damaging it, so we got a boring wooden chair. The real diary room chair was behind us. I lifted up the cloth slightly and touched the real chair. It felt good. We then all settled down for our last night in the Big Brother house.
The morning came and we were awoken early by bright lights and Christmas music. Big Brother announced immediately that we all had 30 minutes to get our suitcases packed and in the diary room corridor. This was a frantic rush as I took the time limit seriously. I had so many items with me to pack that I just rammed everything into the suitcase and hoped for the best. I didn’t even change out of my bedclothes. I was the first to finish and to deliver my suitcase to the diary room corridor. I had to prove myself.
In groups of 5, Big Brother announced our names one by one and then said we were evicted. As we left for the last time via the diary room door one of my fellow housemates shouted back into the house ‘Goodbye house!’ and the cutest most adorable thing happened. The house spoke back. Big Brother replied with ‘Goodbye housemates’. I honestly felt tears as the diary room door shut behind us. My last glimpse of the house that had made me feel so complete and so happy. I looked back at the set and knew in my heart that I’d be returning for the televised version.
Early next year the producers reinstated me back into the audition process for the upcoming series, I was fast-tracked so I couldn’t be eliminated. I was back in the running, back to where I was last year, the final 50. This time I had the irreplaceable experience and credentials showing how I actually performed and thrived in the environment they were casting for. I couldn’t see myself not getting chosen, it literally didn’t cross my mind. Every part of my being knew I’d be going back in that house.
The waiting game took its toll. Anxiously waiting for the call that I believed without a doubt would come. Months rolled by and it was getting closer and closer to the launch of the show. I knew there wasn’t long left to hear, but I also knew that not a lot of notice was given. I held on with absolute faith. The call never came, and the series aired without me. Still, I hoped that on the off-chance they had planned for me to enter the show at the halfway mark. This didn’t happen. I was crushed.
To this day it has to be the best thing I’ve ever done in my life and I’ll always cherish it. Irrespective of the outcome.