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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 1 August, 2001, 10:56 GMT 11:56 UK
The best of Big Brother
Big Brother contestants
Thanks for the memories: Housemates kept us amused
BBC News Online's Rebecca Thomas revisits the past nine weeks of Big Brother II.

Following the mass excitement created by the UK's first Big Brother series, its successor looked initially like being a damp squib.

Though pleasant on the eye, the contestants seemed either too young, too insipid or too vain to have anything exciting up their sleeves.

Viewer apathy threatened to kick in as the contestants seemed only mildly intrigued by their situation and spent hours talking about mundanities instead.

But how wrong the Doubting Thomases were proved to be as the housemates started to relax - and sparks and tabloid headlines began to fly.

Brother times
Penny kisses Paul and rows with Stuart
Paul gets "weird" as pressure mounts
Bubble eats huge quantity of sweetcorn
Stuart becomes new Nasty Nick
Paul and Helen go under the duvet
Funnyman Brian goes to Diary Room for a sob
Helen becomes queen of the catchphrase

First to raise temperatures was the housemate least expected to offend - schoolteacher Penny.

Despite her responsible profession and comparative maturity - she was 33 - Penny fell into a spiral of erratic behaviour.

She indulged in a passionate embrace with housemate Paul.

But then she broke down and sobbed to Big Brother after dropping her microphone down the toilet.

Then there was that almighty row with Stuart. Penny's four-letter expletives turned the air blue after Stuart said he would sleep with any of the female housemates except her.

Otherwise she was just considered "too bossy" by her housemates and was duly the first to go.

Friction

But even with Penny out, the fireworks fizzled on. Continuing where Nasty Nick left off, "arrogant" Stuart became the most reviled man in Britain.

Push came to shove when he was seen being particularly unpleasant to lap dancer Amma.

Big Brother contestant Amma
Amma got into bother with Stuart and Paul

Viewers heard him tell Amma she had a "shallow" mind.

She responded by telling him he was "shallow, smug and insecure" before bursting into tears and saying she hoped the whole country would vote him out. They did.

Brian and house late-comer Josh finally had to agree to differ after constant friction between them.

But before that, a party for Brian's 23rd birthday turned flat when the two squared up to each other.

As a result, Brian burst into tears later when he sneaked off to the diary room to find solace with Big Brother.

Fun

On a lighter note, Brian also supplied ample comedy along with Bubble.

Gags and stunts became the order of their interplay as they vied for the title of the world's greatest joker.

Big Brother contestant Brian
Brian knew where to draw the line
But things got out of hand when they staged a pretend fight, complete with fake blood, to wind up the girls.

Fragile Helen was reduced to tears by the fake injuries, crying: "I want to go home, I am really scared of Bubble."

Bubble was also elevated to national hero status when he almost broke the record for eating the most sweetcorn kernels - 173 - with a toothpick.

Not one to give up, Bubble tried once more after his eviction and totted up an astounding 185.

This nail-biting stunt was also the most memorable of the weekly household tasks.

But while Brian remained on the right side of comic, Bubble's "jokes" were often taken the wrong way.

And he eventually conceded defeat, saying to Brian: "You are without a doubt the funniest man I have ever met." Then he was out.

Flighty Brian soon became the media's favourite to win the contest.

But locked away inside the house, Brian had no idea. He had to shave his head after promising to do so if he was not up for eviction.

Nerves

Paul, on the other hand, was nominated so many times that the stress began to show.

He was dubbed "Mirror Man" as he was seen constantly checking his appearance.

Shouting in his sleep also became a disturbing trend. And the cold aggression in his conversations with Amma seemed to betray a man on the edge.

Big Brother contestants Paul and Helen
Intimate Paul and Helen teased the nation

The programme's psychologists put all this down to Paul's increased uncertainty over his position in the house.

But his nerves were calmed by the soothing influence of Helen. The intimacy between the two had been steadily growing and the nation's interest in Big Brother intensified.

They shared a daily series of intimate moments, including a romantic dinner, several heart-to-heart chats and under-the-duvet cuddles.

Paul, however, was finally evicted and left a lovesick Helen moping - well, at least for a couple of days.

And if there is a lasting impression of Helen it is as the happy housemate who inadvertently kept everyone amused with her innocent comments.

For example, when asked during a test to remember amusing anecdotes, she said: "Amusin' anecdoze. Wassat mean?"

But the pick of the bunch has to be her response when asked if she thought she should win the 70,000 prize money.

"I'd be dangerous with all that money, I'd just go shoooo-woooshhwwwwoooo," squealed Helen, concluding: "No way. Couldn't happen to me."



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