Thursday night's Celebrity Big Brother launch show delighted and confused fans in equal measure. On the one hand, viewers were pleased to see aspects which reminded them of the 'good old days' when the show was on Channel 4. On the other hand, however, there was also mass confusion as to what was happening with the much-hyped guest appearance from Stormy Daniels, the former porn star who allegedly had an affair with Donald Trump.
Stormy's absence has dominated the tabloid press and social media conversation ever since. The whole White House setup and 'Eye of the Storm' theme seemed set up almost entirely for her. If there's one housemate who's likely to benefit from Stormy's no-show then it is undoubtedly fellow American and 'Hollywood A-Lister', Kirstie Alley.
Did you hear Kirstie Alley is in it?
What become especially clear to me whilst watching the launch night episode, is that the former Cheers and Look Who's Talking actress is one of the top-billed celebrities as far as the producers are concerned. It's always a huge advantage to be the first contestant to enter the house, who then inevitably gets given the secret mission, as per tradition. Kirstie got to become President of the Big Brother White House without having to face a public vote. This will ensure that she will receive prime airtime during the first few edits, giving her a great chance to enamour herself to the audience.
However, that wasn't where the producer favour ended. Both Emma Willis and Rylan were massively bigging her up throughout the course of the night, no doubt encouraged by producers, especially with Stormy going M.I.A. Whilst huge value prices are almost always available on launch night, I couldn't believe that Kirstie was available at odds of 20.0+ for several hours, as non-entities aplenty entered the house over the course of the show.
I strongly hinted on Twitter that I was backing her heavily on launch night, with the following tweet;
Subsequently, Kirstie is my biggest position in terms of outright winner by a mile, at least for the time being. She currently sits at 7.0 second favourite. A call from Perez Hilton on Bit On The Side had me a bit worried, as she supported President Trump, according to him. But on the main show, Kirstie wisely associated herself with former President Bill Clinton.
Ryan Thomas, the early favourite
Former Coronation Street star Ryan Thomas is understandably the favourite to win at around 4.0 on Betfair. He's a good looking guy with a large fanbase and fun personality. Predictably enough, he also won the app vote on launch night to become Kirstie's Vice President. There isn't that much to say about him at this stage, other than that lots of people fancy him to win, and that he seemed to struggle with nerves reading out the Presidential address alongside Kirstie. I can't back him at such a short price after just two days, but I will be very much hoping that he drifts so I can consider backing him later.
A worry for Ryan backers, is that Channel 5 may well consider him as too boring and predictable a winner of the show. Regardless, there is an awfully long way to go and we usually see several if not many outright favourites over the course of the series.
Another contestant quite fancied by punters is former Emmerdale actress, Roxanne Pallett. The jury's out on her chances at the moment, but her relative level of fame compared to most means that she has to be on the potential winners' list, at least for the time being. Viewers found her annoying on launch night, but the second episode showed a softer side and so there probably are quite a few sides to her, which should make her interesting to watch.
Rodrigo's final warning
'Human Ken Doll' Rodrigo Alves charmed the audience on launch night. The Brazilian-British personality is famous for having more plastic surgery than practically anyone else who might spring to mind. However, he has already put in foot in it massively by uttering the 'N-Word' twice on launch night. This went down like a cup of cold sick with the viewers, many of whom were proclaiming he should be ejected.
Some optimists might say that this could give him a redemption narrative on the show, but my instinct says he won't be able to come back from such a scandal. If he breaks any more rules he will be ejected, so odds of around 12.0 - 14.0 look ridiculously short to me.
Any interesting outsiders?
Among the rest, the highly attractive Dan Osborne could see himself come into contention, particularly if Ryan falters. Unlike Ryan, Dan will be walking around with his shirt off for as long as he lasts in the show, a strategy which was also used by previous winners Scotty T, Stephen Bear and James Hill (and runner up Austin Armacost).
Gabby Allen could see herself getting a bit of a harsh edit from the producers for appearing on L*ve Isl*nd. She has already dismissed claims she had an affair with Dan Osborne as fake news, and a win for anyone from that ghastly ITV2 rival would be the final nail in the coffin for the flagging CBB brand.
US reality star Natalie Nunn is wisely positioning herself as the villain which should make her entertaining to watch, if an unlikely winner. No one believes that Sally Morgan is actually psychic, but no doubt there will be a task in the near future where she will get to pretend that she is.
Nick Leeson is a bit of an old fart who did some insider trading in the 1990s. So what? He seems like deadwood and a likely early evictee. As does model Chloe Ayling, of 'actually got kidnapped' fame, who has a monotone voice and might need to get into some kind of romance/showmance in order to make her appear interesting to the viewers.
TV presenter/comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli must have been a last minute booking in replacement of someone else. He's already riled viewers up the wrong way with some creepy comments and touchy-feely behaviour. If I could put money down on someone getting evicted first, it would be him. Someone else who doesn't appear very likeable is former footballer Jermaine Pennant. I'm not sure he even appeared in the second episode, which doesn't bode well for his long-term chances.
My pick for an interesting outsider who might outperform their current price is former Married At First Sight participant, Ben Jardine. Though I watched and enjoyed the reality show he came from, he will be a complete unknown to almost the entire audience. He received plenty of airtime in the second episode, aided by his upbeat and cheeky personality. Ben will know that he will be largely unknown, but seems keen to make the most of the exposure that this opportunity will give him.
He reminds me a little of previous winner Stephen Bear and in particular Andrew Brady, who traded at single figures early on before ruining it for himself and crashing out halfway through. I'm hoping that Ben's strong personality gives him the potential to survive the first few evictions, though I can see him getting nominated fairly soon.
Apologies for the long post and thanks for reading. I'll be back at some point next week to discuss the first eviction, though no doubt by then someone will have been kicked out, someone else will have walked, and 'Psychic' Sally Morgan will be the 3.0 favourite. You know what this show is like!
What do you think of the contestants in this series, who do you think might be a potential winner and who's going to be the first out the door? Feel free to join in the discussion in the comments.