No one prospers from the Big Brother saga

Let's take a quick look at what the latest lamentable series of Celebrity Big Brother means for charity, celebrity and media.

Leave aside the complete failure of Channel 4 or the programme maker, Endemol, to head off the alleged racist bullying, manage the subsequent chaos with any finesse or turn Davina McCall into a useful interviewer. After all, the entire rationale of BB is based on deliberately forcing together individuals whose personalities are likely to lead to conflict, thus showing off the worst in people. Ideally, there are also some sexual shenanigans for the benefit of viewers at home.

But in a country where the British National Party seems more confident by the day, the behaviour was probably less offensive than what takes place in the average secondary school - girls can be so cruel - and the language used was less provocative than what can be heard in many pubs.

That's not to dismiss the cruelty and crudity, but to understand that the outcome was predictable and probably inevitable once the line-up of black class and white trash was agreed. And where are charities in all this? The phone-vote cash going to good causes is a mere 10p per call, and the charities involved receive little exposure, perhaps luckily this year in view of the risk to their reputations.

Charity is being besmirched by Big Brother, which attempts to head off any criticism by donating all phoneline profits to good causes, just as newspapers donate the fees for interviews with hand-wringing apologists.

No figures are mentioned, so how do we know these are more than token payments? And do we really want charity constantly linked to stupidity, shame and guilt?

It is all yet more proof that celebrities can change from asset to liability in a single headline. Of all the stupidity incited by Celebrity Big Brother, the charities that decided to cut their links with Jade Goody and expunge her from their pasts seem to have displayed the worst. Would not a simple "we want to discuss this with Jade" have been fairer and less like joining the media-led lynch mob? Such a move would have had the added benefit of keeping the door open to a profitable rehabilitation.

Finally, for evidence of the contempt with which Channel 4 and Endemol view the convenient charity fall-guy, click on 'charities' at the official website. Detailed list? Figures? Endorsements? Links? Nope. The page contains just three words: "Information coming soon."

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