A complete guide to every type of reality TV show celebrity
Are we dealing with a Paul Danan or a Jimmy Bullard?
Who’s better - normal reality TV show contestants or celebrity reality TV show contestants? The jury’s out, but I think we can all amicably agree that celebrity participants are at least the most fascinating bunch.
Like, it’s obvious why some Joe Bloggs roofer from Romford has gone on Ex On The Beach - it’s because he wants to not be a roofer from Romford anymore - he wants to be famous and get paid to tour the country drinking booze and tonguing anything that moves (fair enough).
But an already famous, already (possibly) rich celebrity going on a reality show, where there’s the distinct chance they might have to kneel down and wank off a big pig on national television - that’s the real sideshow.
So to celebrate this most wonderful part of our country’s culture, here is a big list of every type of reality TV show celebrity to be found in the UK:
The nostalgia casting
Nostalgia, every TV and movie exec’s most prized cash cow. “Do you remember this thing or person?” echoing around production meetings across the country, closely followed by the faint creak of a thousand nodding necks as it is agreed, yes, we will get in touch with Coolio’s agent (aka Coolio), because everyone remembers him, and that is enough. No need to actually try, is there?
The controversial one looking for redemption
Sometimes, celebrities fall out of favour with the public as a result of a certain discretion - they said something gross in public, they spat in an old lady’s hair, they attempted to take over the world with a giant laser beam - it’s a fickle thing, fame. So what to do? Well, go on a high-profile reality programme and show everyone that you’re not racist anymore, or you’ve lost interest in world domination. People will forgive you.
All that is required to dupe the public is to make sure you don’t actually do anything bad for the four weeks you’re on the show - you can do it - and they will entirely forget everything bad you’ve ever done and you’ll probably win it.
“But he didn’t kill any rabbits while on the show so I guess he’s done with killing rabbits!” they will say, and you can continue to kill rabbits in the safety of your own home, using the money you won to buy increasingly larger and more elaborate hammers. You have beaten the system.
The controversial one not looking for redemption
Examples: Katie Hopkins, basically
In this case, we simply have someone who is well-known for spouting controversial opinions - often, this is their entire ‘career’ - and they are simply going on a reality TV show to give those opinions a wider reach. There’s no solemn-faced quest for redemption here, no atoning for past sins - they are simply going to be a massive arsehole as usual, and the hate will continue to mount from both the other contestants and the public. They’ll be kept on the show for a surprising amount of time, for entertainment purposes, but they will never win. Nor will they care - they’re only really interested in the paycheck.
I’m too old for this shit, I’ll be honest, but YouTubers are celebrities now, so I’m gonna have to put up, or shut up. Essentially, someone with loads of followers on Instagram and other associated channels is now a big enough draw to share a living room with, erm, heavy-hitters like Tony Blackburn and Tinchy Stryder.
Still, me watching Jack Maynard get booted from the jungle is the equivalent to a 12-year-old seeing Coolio and having absolutely zero clue as to who he is and to what he has gifted the world - you’ve gotta please all ages, I guess.
On many reality TV shows, it is necessary to introduce a ‘shagger’, because this greatly increases the potential for ‘shagging’. Throw in a dead-eyed sex-robot that exists purely to pursue the opposite sex, and you’ll create not only fireworks, but also - fingers crossed - babies. Even better if it’s a dating show, like when they put Muggy Mike on Celebs Go Dating: nobody in history has ever said “I want to find love” with less conviction. A man who deep down, believes he’s built for shagging, on a show that surrounds him with endless women - it is the televisual dream.
Shows mostly populated by non-famous bozos, like Ex On The Beach? Stick a renowned shagger in amongst the amateur ones, and watch everyone get all scared and/or find themselves unable to move for the sheer awe of meeting their heroes. What a dynamic.
The person who has ‘romped’ with someone famous
We all want to know what it’s like to bloody well do it with a celebrity, but most of us won’t ever get the chance (unlucky mate, can’t say the same for a stud like me)*, so it’s nice to find out from someone who has, what it’s like. Even better if they’ve done something really naughty like had a high-profile affair.
This category masquerades as a good chance to see the person behind the headlines, which is a shame, because they are always exactly like you thought they would be, every time.
*I once went out with a girl who had over 400 followers on Twitter
The ‘I have absolutely no idea who you are and nor does anyone else’ one
I don’t know who these people are, sorry.
It’s a pretty simple one, this - there’s usually no ulterior motive. A soap actor will be on a decent wedge, but it’s nothing that a banker or a doctor couldn’t earn, so it’s nice to bag a hefty lump sum for sitting in the jungle for a week or so. Get the writers to send your character off on holiday for a bit, and you’re sweet to go. Or if you prefer, simply take a day out of filming and go on Dinner Date or something, it’s all very easy money. Especially if you go on Dinner Date, because you get three cooked meals for free, too. Maybe even a drippy snog if you’re lucky.
Also, you’re like, definitely famous, so it’s not even a shit booking either.
The one who used to play sports
If you’re not playing professional sports anymore, then the money won’t be coming in like it used to, and you want a taste of that high life again, don’t ya? So once the matches have dried up, simply get yourself on I’m A Celeb or some such, and you’re back in the limelight, complete with nifty pay-packet. Also, as was the case with Jimmy Bullard - you get to surprise the public by being a sportsperson with an actual personality, and you end up with a nice little alternative career resurgence on your hands.
And even if you don’t, you’ll at least get one Soccer AM booking out of it.
The brother/dad/aunty/daughter/etc of a celebrity, or perhaps just someone who once served them in a Burger King
This is less interesting than someone who has seen a famous person’s pee-pee, but we still get an insight into what the celebrity is like behind closed doors. “What was he like as a kid?” “Is he a mummy’s boy?” “How big is his pee-pee?” The burning questions are endless, and it’s fascinating to know the answers. Of course, it’s wise to take them with a pinch of salt - often a celebrity’s sibling is riding those famous coat-tails as far as they’ll stretch, so salaciousness is the name of the game here.
Take off an inch, basically.
The reality show regular
Sometimes, you are not famous, and then you go on a non-celebrity-based reality television programme, and it makes you famous. As such, you are now a celebrity - even though you weren’t before and all it took was for you to have some night-vision sex on national television - and that means you can now go on celebrity-based reality television programmes. People recognise your face, and that’s all that’s needed.
Reality shows starring members of the public are amazing production lines for celebrity reality shows, because they manufacture an endless stream of new famous people to fill in the ranks. Land a spot on one of the heavy-hitters like Love Island (you won’t hit the big-time by going on Come Dine With Me) and it’s an amazing way to get famous without having a jot of discernible talent. And just think about those three free dinners you’ll eventually get down the line on Dinner Date. Completely worth the wholesale loss of your dignity.
The genuine ex-big-time-celeb who is now desperate for cash
Imagine once touring the world selling millions of records, or being an Oscar-nominated actor appearing in all the big summer blockbusters, and then, one day, you are in Borehamwood, surrounded by people of whom you have no prior knowledge, and you are being asked to paint your face purple and pop balloons with your arse. From the highest highs of mainstream success, to eating porridge for dinner because you failed a task - this is an all-too-common career trajectory for many.
These celebs make fascinating guests though - they come with all the juicy stories of Tinseltown, but they also bring with them a sort of tragic allure. Why are they in Hertfordshire now, and not Hollywood? What brought them to this place? It’s perhaps the stories of their downfall that are the most interesting. Either way, I’m there for it.
Note: These appearances almost never result in a career resurgence.
The former children’s TV presenter who you’d think had never had an orgy but has definitely had loads of orgies
Look, just because you were once on kids’ television, do not assume that I therefore think that you are a virgin. You do not need to prove to me that you have had loads of sex with loads of different people, and you do not need to purposefully jettison your wholesome image like some sort of skin-shedding pervert-snake. I know you’ve ‘done it’ before, because you are an adult, and I resolutely don’t need my childhood retrospectively shattered by weird stories of the gross sex you’ve had.
You have forever tainted the word ‘gunge’ for me, and I shall never forgive you.
The opinionated old person
Much like ‘inviting’ Katie Hopkins onto your show, sometimes the done thing to do is to plonk someone in who is a bit old and has loads of outdated opinions - it’s an essential ingredient to the pie. Slamming a bullheaded geriatric into the mix creates needed friction and always nicely upends the group dynamic, creating an evil step-parent for both the public and the contestants to hate. Also, it is very funny watching old people potter about in the bathroom, spinning around in circles and getting talcum powder everywhere, isn’t it.
The journalist who wrote something rank once
All it takes nowadays is for one terrible piece of writing to go viral (fingers crossed for this one) and you’re ‘famous’. Have a controversial opinion, put it into words, probably include a photo of yourself with your hand on your hip next to it, and you’ll be on telly in no time. This category is much like ‘the opinionated old person’ but - if you can imagine it - of even less note.
Only problem is: if this is you, then you’ll be asked to defend your article on telly, in real-time, which as a journalist, I know is impossible. Basically, you’re gonna look a right stuttering pillock when you realise what you’ve written has no facts or substance behind it. Not again!
Oh and also, if you find yourself in this wretched category, then just let it be known that you are veering perilously close to literally being Katie Hopkins, which is - in my humble opinion - very shit.
The singer who hasn’t had a song out for at least three years
If you’ve done at least one famous song, then you are qualified to appear on any celebrity reality TV show - it is the law. So that bloke off ‘Brimful Of Asha’ could do one, so could the guy from White Town, maybe even one of the Fast Food Rockers - one famous song equals one famous appearance. Make sure your last big one was out over three years ago though - we don’t want you being too relevant.
And if you’re lucky, you might even get a new single out of the whole sorry affair. Do bear in mind though, that for every Peter Andre there is yet another failed Blue reunion (something I am not happy about, should you ask. Fuming, in fact).
The sexy one
Look, I’m not here to objectify anyone, but… they’re fit aren’t they.
The *sigh* MP
In my opinion, many members of parliament do enough in their day jobs to render themselves objects of ridicule. So, going on national television, getting down on all fours and lapping at the floor like a pained cat that’s just come out of the teleportation chamber in The Fly, is not the best tactic, I don’t think, mate. Not really doing much for your image, there, is it? Holding a position of supposed power, and then making yourself a laughing stock on TV doesn’t bode well for people taking you seriously in the future, does it?
Saying all that, I must include this very personal and necessary call-to-action: ED BALLS PLEASE NEVER STOP DANCING.
The chef who is an arsehole
I don’t know, maybe I’m in the minority here, but I love TV chefs, pretty much all of them - big arrogant knobheads stomping their feet about the place screaming at people - it’s what reality TV dreams are made of. So yeah, big fan of Gordon Ramsay et al, but the fact remains: they are the bane of many a close-quarters fellow contestant - particularly if food is involved in any way.
“Oh, you are not FUCKING appreciative of the fact that I blended our entire vegetable stockpile into a bisque and the reduced it down to a tablespoon of foam? Are you a FUCKING neanderthal? TASTE THE ARSEHOLING FOAM.”
10/10, would taste the foam.
Honourable mentions before this article becomes longer than the Amazon
The person who is obsessed with celebrities but isn’t actually a celebrity themselves
The double act that is creepily classified and treated as one person
The one who definitely didn’t pass the psychological welfare test but is on the show anyway
The least famous member of a boy/girlband
The one who ‘likes a drink’
Examples: Donny Tourette, any of that lot off Geordie Shore