Celebrity Big Brother returns to Channel 5 next month – and today the broadcaster has released an official interview with host Emma Willis.
Are you excited for the new series, yet, Emma?
Yes! I start getting really excited as soon as December gets here. That’s when I start to think about it and the butterflies start.
Do you find out which celebrities are going in the house, in advance?
In the past I’ve always tried not to know them, and stay away. But because they cast it so brilliantly, my nosiness does get the better of me and I try to do a bit of digging. UK versus USA was so brilliant, that this year I thought, ‘Come on, what have you got for us this time?’ I couldn’t resist asking.
What did you think when you heard this year’s line-up, then?
I was extremely pleased. I do think this is one of the strongest we’ve ever had. When we had Lee Ryan and Jim Davidson, everyone said, ‘This is the peak, it can’t get better than this’. But they just keep matching it or doing even better with every series. They are so fantastic at getting the right types of people. There are a couple in there that I was so excited about, purely because of my own love of them in the past. Aside from people you may have loved in the past, there are just some great characters who I think will give TV gold.
Are there some obscure names as well as the more famous names?
Absolutely. Often the people you’ve never heard of end up being the biggest names of the series. I don’t think many people knew who Farrah Abraham was before she did CBB. But we all know who she is now! She definitely provided a hell of a lot of content. Jasmine Waltz, as well. I didn’t know who she was, but she just delivered brilliantly.
Let’s run through some of the rumoured names, if we can.
What would you think if Gemma Collins were to go in?
I think she would be brilliant in there. She obviously knows reality TV. She’s a fan of Big Brother, she comes on BBOTS quite a lot. There doesn’t seem to be any falseness with her. What you see is what you get. I think lots of people like her, and lots of people can relate to her. There are two types of great housemate: there’s the kind of people who go a long way, down to earth people that viewers can relate to and empathise with. And the other type of great housemate is the type that creates fireworks and the kind of person who you love to hate. Gemma is definitely the former. I think most people would like her, and she’d be brilliant.
Ola Jordan is rumoured, too.
If Ola’s anything like James, then we should get her in as quickly as we can. I think he’s another one that surprised me – he used to make me scream at the TV, but I couldn’t help but love him. I don’t think Ola is quite like that, I think she’s probably quite lovely.
How about Angie Bowie?
I don’t really know anything about her story, other than that she was married to David. Having somebody that was married to a legend like that is pretty amazing. Like when we had David Hasselhoff’s ex-wife Pamela Bach in there, in the same year as Jedward. The ex-wives can bring a bit of juice, which is always nice. And I think they have to be strong characters to have led the type of lives they have done.
Do you have your wardrobe lined up?
Almost – I’m off coat shopping first. It all starts with the coat, and the rest of the outfit follows from there. It’s a challenge to find outfits that are warm enough but still look good, but it does mean I have lots of winter coats once I’ve worn them, so that’s a joy!
Who’s your dream housemate?
I normally have a long list but I think I’ve got it down to just one person, who fascinates me. I just want to watch him permanently, and that’s Richard Madeley. He’d be amazing! I’m friends with his son, Jack, who is the young image of him, down to the way he talks and carries himself. I just adore Jack, so to meet and watch the original version, I would find that captivating. He has this pure honesty where he just says whatever he thinks. Not many people do that, in such an innocent way.
After the success of Chloe Jasmine and Stevi on CBB last year, would you like to see any other celebrity couples go in?
I’d like to see [Eamonn Holmes] and Ruth [Langsford] go in. They are my ultimate couple to go in there. I know them quite well personally, and I’ve been around them as a couple, and I love watching them in a social situation. I can’t stop watching them on television. I find their dynamics as a couple quite fascinating. People say, ‘Ooh, they’re always having a pop at each other’, but they absolutely adore one another. They are so in love.
What would happen if you and Matt were to go in together?
We’d be fine as a couple, but I think we’d be boring TV! We’d be terrified, so we’d just sit in a corner going, ‘Oh my God, what are we doing?’ Matt would go out of his brain with boredom, because he always has to have something to do. And I would probably be my normal, nosy, Big Brother-loving self, asking lots of questions. But I don’t think that would happen!
Is it odd when people you know go in the house?
One of my best friends is the sister of Mario Falcone, so I know Mario, but not really well. And I kind of knew Lee Ryan through Matt, but we’d not really seen him for years. So it’s not been that weird because they weren’t people that close to me. It would be weird if a really close friend went in.
Can you tell us a bit about the vaudeville theme this year?
It’s going to be quite a theatrical and dramatic theme. The house will look theatrical and plush. And the garden is like an old Whitechapel street, Jack the Ripper style, which will be amazing. We’re going to basically see an amazing period drama play out over the weeks. It’s about testing how good they are as actors. Will their masks slip? There’s always going to be a sinister side to any Big Brother theme and I’m sure there was a sinister side to Vaudeville. So it’s going to be Big Brother being naughty and messing with them.
What effect will the theme have on the housemates?
Well I think they will have to be quite clever. There will be a big explosion on launch night which will set the cat among the pigeons.
Do you think the UK v USA theme could be done again?
I think it probably could be done again, I think it worked really well. The American housemates often become the most popular characters. We saw very much with the last series that the Americans were very loud and brash and in your face and wanted to talk about everything. Whereas the Brits were very, ‘Just chill out, it’s just a TV show’ about it. That’s why it’s good to have those different sorts of people in there. But this year is totally different in every way. The house is different, and it’s housemates battling by themselves, not in teams.
What’s been your favourite romance on the show?
It’s got to be Lee Ryan, Casey Bachelor and Jasmine Waltz. That trumped everything that had gone before. To watch such a car crash unfold in front of your eyes was just amazing, and it was just baffling that Lee didn’t realise what he was doing!
What’s the moment when you’ve most wanted to go into the house and intervene?
Probably with Farrah. I just wanted to go in and say, ‘What are you doing?’. But even though we think she’s totally bonkers, that’s absolutely 100% normal for her. And who am I to tell someone they’re being slightly unfair? But at points like that, where it goes a bit too far, sometimes it would be nice to step in and go, ‘Take a step back, guys, it’s just telly’.
Who would you most and least like to be in the house with?
I’d have to say I’d most like to be with Matt. If I had to go in, I’d like him there for a bit of normality. And least – Rylan! Because he would win again.
Did you go to Rylan’s wedding?
I did, and it was amazing. I expected it to be very bling and Essex and razzle dazzle and shiny, but it was absolutely beautiful and really lovely. It was a calm, quaint affair. Everyone had a gorgeous time, they just did it brilliantly.
Did you cry?
I did have a few tears at the readings and at Rylan’s and Dan’s speeches, they were really emotional. It was a really, really beautiful day.
Celebrity Big Brother returns to Channel 5 on January 5th.