Page last updated at 08:05 GMT, Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Big Brother hopefuls audition for final series

By Tim Masters
Entertainment correspondent, BBC News

Luke Marsden
Former housemate Luke was on hand to give tips to the fame-hungry

Auditions for the final series of Big Brother on Channel 4 began at the weekend in Manchester, with thousands of hopefuls braving the rain for a chance of fame.

"I'm feeling nostalgic about the entire thing," says 2008 housemate Luke Marsden, eyeing the queue snaking through the Manchester Central complex.

"It does bring back a lot of memories, not necessarily all good," he laughs.

Two years ago Marsden, from Bolton, was being put through the same audition process.

Human pyramid

Frankie
I don't sit down and I don't shut up, I talk all the time
Frankie, 18, Sheffield

In groups of 10, reality show hopefuls are given a series of exercises that help identify potential housemates.

"I queued up for four hours next to two pole dancers and I thought 'what have I let myself in for?'" recalls Marsden.

"I had to do the same as these people: I had to pass oranges using my neck, and make a human pyramid. I was more concerned about ripping my suit to be honest."

He says those who make it through the first round still face a "gruelling" six-month audition process.

"If you're not willing to answer any personal question you've no chance. When did you lose your virginity? Are you in debt? What's your favourite sexual position?"

"And you have to fill out a 42-page form - and draw a picture of a cat!"

Marsden admits Big Brother has changed his life for the better, but it's not all positive.

LUKE'S AUDITION TIPS
Luke Marsden
1. Be honest, don't lie to Big Brother because they will find out
2. Be yourself, don't put on an act or exaggerate your character
3. Have fun, don't take it too seriously

"I don't have a surname anymore, I'm just Luke from Big Brother these days," he says.

"It's helped me grow up. I've learnt a lot about myself and I've got my own radio show now. It's not worked out as well for every housemate.

"In Wigan everyone knows who I am, so a night out with friends is easier said than done. It's fine as long as people are really nice, but you get the odd few insulting you."

Eighteen-year-old hairdresser Frankie, from Sheffield, proudly displays a Big Brother stamp on the back of her hand - the sign of success at the group stage.

"We had to make a body part - we choose a boob," she says of one team exercise.

But does she fancy her chances as a housemate?

"I don't want to be cocky, but I hope so," she replies. "I don't sit down and I don't shut up, I talk all the time. I'm a hairdresser, so I'm cutting hair at work and I'm talking away - I can't help it."

Joel
I can be really conniving, if I get bored I like stirring the pot for my own entertainment
Joel, 24, Manchester

With Big Brother coming to an end this summer, there is much debate about what twists and turns are in store for the final batch of housemates.

"We aiming to make the final series as entertaining as possible - obviously we want to go out with a bang," says executive producer Daniel Marlowe.

Marlowe, who's worked on the show for five years, says every year the producers are surprised by those who turn up for open auditions.

"A diverse mix of people is how the programme works best, predominantly it's a younger group but we're certainly interested in meeting people from all walks of life and all age ranges."

He says the producers are looking at how people interact in a group, and whether they have an "interesting" back story or personality.

"As long as people are being genuine and are being themselves, that's what the viewers really warm to."

KRIS'S AUDITION TIPS
Kris Donnelly
1. You have to be yourself
2. Take things with a pinch of salt
3. Go in for a good summer experience, not fame and fortune

Kris Donnelly was in Big Brother 10 last year, and jokingly admits that his passport to the house was "probably the hair".

"I think they've got the idea what they want before you've even set foot through the doors," he says.

"I was surprised by what we were asked to do. We had a lot of psychology questions, and had to meet a psychiatrist. We had all sorts of secret meetings all round the country. It was a very exciting time."

Donnelly says he expects to see "bigger characters" in Big Brother 11 but admits the show has "run its course".

"They'll definitely go out with a bang. It wouldn't surprise me if another channel picks it up and does something else with it."

Marty and Simon
Simon (left) and Marty (right) made it through to the next round

Among the hopefuls to get through the first round is 19-year-old student Marty, from Beverley, near Hull.

"You don't come here unless you think you're going to get through do you? The more I can put across my personality the more I've got a chance... maybe I should be dancing around in my underpants or something."

Simon, 23, from Nottingham says he hopes to be the first person in the house in a wheelchair.

"I'm the sort of guy that just because I've got a disability doesn't mean my life stops. I've got lots of banter and Big Brother has never had anyone in a wheelchair before in the house - so there's a first time for everything."

The selection process begins with a warm-up session, and then teams of 10 are put through their paces by a Big Brother producer.

"You're all potential housemates!" she says encouragingly, before getting them to come up with three interesting facts about themselves.

In one group, these include someone who

• keeps a Christmas tree all year round

• grew up on the same estate as Robbie Williams

• earned money making adult webcam films

There's also a vivid description of a dislocated elbow.

Next, one of the team lines up her colleagues according to who she thinks is the most fame-hungry.

"I don't really want to be famous," says the person at the end of the row. They didn't make it through to the next round.

After a mock eviction and forming themselves into a famous landmark (Wembley Stadium), the team members receive the final verdict.

'Talk of Doom'

Only five of the 10 get their hands stamped with the Big Brother eye.

Jayne and Loli
Jayne (left) and Loli (right) are also contestants on ITV1's Take Me Out

Among them are friends Loli, 42, from London, and Jayne, 41, from Warrington.

Both have recently finished filming on an ITV1 reality show, and are bursting with confidence.

"I''m quite grounded and I think I would bring a bit of stabillty to the house, but if someone crosses me I'll let them know about it," says Loli.

Jayne, whose party trick is to burp the alphabet, says: "I'm 41, I just want to try everything and have a laugh. At my age I'm young enough to do everything, but I have the advantage because I'm old enough to know everything."

She adds: "I think they are going to change the format quite a bit this year - they are probably going to make people suffer really badly!"

Student Joel, aged 24, from Manchester, has been a fan of Big Brother right from the start and says he wants to create some friction in the house.

"I can be really conniving, if I get bored I like stirring the pot for my own entertainment."

But Marsden, who survived 58 days in the house, has some words of warning on the dark side of fame.

"They give you a Talk of Doom," he says. "I didn't take it seriously, but if you do something in the house the public don't like your dream can pretty quickly turn into a nightmare."

Casting a look at the hundreds of hopefuls still in the hall, Marsden adds: "There are people in the queue today and this is their fifth audition - get a hobby! Don't audition five times - what's wrong with you?"

Big Brother 11 auditions are also being held in Cardiff (23 January), Glasgow (30 January) and London (6-7 February).



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