TV & RadioComment

Celebrity Big Brother: Does Louis Walsh have any idea what he’s signed up for?

Television: Reported to be the highest paid member of the latest Big Brother household, the former X Factor judge could be facing a challenging stay

Reality television is Louis Walsh’s bread and butter – but the former X Factor judge takes the biscuit on opening night of Celebrity Big Brother (CBB), returning for the first time since ITV rebooted the BB brand. Walsh arrives near the start of the broadcast – airing on Virgin Media Two in Ireland – and immediately lets the cat out of the bag about knowing his old X Factor best friend Sharon Osbourne is a housemate.

“I’m with Mrs O!” he says. “I don’t know who you’ve been talking to,” replies host Will Best. “We don’t like him – we love him!” adds co-presenter AJ Odudu, stuck for something more profound to share about the instigator of the great 1990s Irish Boyband Revolution.

Off Walsh goes. However, CBB proves more complicated for him than merely disagreeing with Simon Cowell, his stock-in-trade on X Factor. Walsh and Osbourne are ordered into a “secret” room but struggle to find the door. Finally stashed away, they watch remotely as the rest of the celebs pile in. Louis proceeds to shout “We’re in here” as the contestants wander the house – apparently unaware he and Osbourne are supposed to stay under wraps.

Walsh is reportedly to the highest paid contestant on CBB 2024 (ITV having splashed out £2 million on contestants). Osbourne, his old judging pal from X Factor, appears as a guest “lodger” – the rumour is that she and the producers couldn’t agree a fee for her to stay for the entire three weeks.


She’ll have come and gone before we know it. But does Walsh have any idea what he’s letting himself in for? Perhaps not. “Oh god what have I done!” he says on entering the house, which continues to resemble Philip K Dick’s idea of an Ikea showroom.

Celebrity Big Brother has historically proved a tricky test for a certain kind of z-lister. Many went in with snowy white reputation only to emerge sullied and humiliated, their airbrushed public persona in tatters.

The late Jade Goody never recovered from accusations that she bullied Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty in 2007 – which resulted in 44,500 complaints to the British broadcasting regulator – while in 2016 British “national treasure” Christopher Biggins was removed from the contest after making comments that were regarded as homophobic and anti-Semitic. “I’ve made three mistakes in here so I’ve been chastised so I’ve become very aware and careful,” he said before his departure.

“Of course the thing is as you relax it gets worse cause you think you’re at home.”

Obviously, nothing like that will happen to Walsh, who is sweet and thoughtful throughout opening night. He does, however, come across awfully baffled about what he is doing in a hidden chamber with Sharon Osbourne, passing judgment on strangers he’d only just clapped eyes on and, in most cases, had never heard of before.

He is particularly stumped by the arrival of Kate Middleton’s uncle Gary Goldsmith, a chummy chap whom he and Osbourne immediately select for eviction (their task is to put forward three names for an early exit).

Osbourne, who is in for just five days, gets into the spirit. Poor Louis appears lost. Assuming he avoids early ejection, he could potentially be locked away in the house for up to three weeks. He’s made his mistakes in the past – he did, after all, give a thumbs up to Jedward when they auditioned for X Factor. But you wonder if it’s dawning on him what he’s signed up to – and that it might be even more of an endurance test than the encore performance of Fairytale of New York at a Ronan Keating concert.