Ok, I know I am lucky in my ‘job’ (I use the word loosely) to speak to lots of different people. But this is not quite the coup as you would think (although it’s great)! ……………….I have known Sam (Giffen) and his crazy mom Kim (Barnes) now for about 3 years, and I was one of the first people to know about his approach from Big Brother, and it KILLED me to keep it to myself!
I saw him briefly since his return home, but he was either too knackered or on his way out, anyway after finding a brief window in his social calendar, I managed to pin him down. On a glorious day about a fortnight ago we met up at Spago in Lytham for what we thought might be a quiet chat! Some chance!
This is how it went
ME: When did you apply to go on the show?
I didn’t! I was actually approached about two months before filming when they CALLED ME and asked if I would be interested, so I didn’t go through the ‘normal’ audition process. I went down to London for a with the producers/executives, we had several discussions and I had to do various tasks. It was just really to showcase myself, but I only had a couple of hours. After that I got called back for a further meeting and then as they say the rest is history!
ME: OMG how did you feel!
Amazing, I had to pinch myself. I had wanted it for SO long and I was ACTUALLY going on the biggest reality TV programme in the country! It just felt surreal and I didn’t believe it until I walked through those doors! The whole build up was overwhelming.
ME: I assume it was quite scary?
Well yes, the thought that I was going to be on TV in front of millions of people every day, and knowing EVERYTHING is filmed and of course it was natural to wonder how I would come across. I knew that people would either love me or hate me and that’s quite hard to get my head round. I had ‘insider’ info from a mate that had been in the house a couple of years back…………but nothing can prepare you.
ME: What was it like going into ‘Hiding’
Five days before launch night I went down to London, said my final goodbyes before handing over my phone. Then for the whole time I had a chaperone with me and literally no contact with the ‘outside world’, the reason for that is when all the build up about the housemates starts and snippets are feed to the media. They don’t want you to know who the other housemates are. I cant say much about it just that it was extremely boring!
ME: You had no clue who else was in going in the house?
I had an inkling that Ryan Ruckledge (local lad from Blackpool) might be there as there was something in the press before I went into hiding. So just him, I wasn’t aware of anyone else
ME: Tell me about Launch Night
Honestly I CANT describe it, just a massive blur, crazy, I’m struggling to explain it! I was in the Channel 5 complex from 9am in the morning, just waiting in a dressing room, my nerves were kicking in, anxiety hitting the roof. Then at 8pm I started to get ready. It was a bit of relief to be doing something! I just wanted to get in there, with all the weeks of waiting for the call, then the 5 days in hiding it was just one long waiting game! It’s such a long process and actually I didn’t have as long as other people, so I don’t know how they coped with it!
ME: What happened next
I was taken to the actual studio in a car, you are blindfolded with headphones on as so as you can’t see or hear what’s going on. There was a queue of cars and then everything happened so quick I was pulled out of the car and someone said ‘You’re on now Sam’. I was briefed about the questions that Emma would ask me, I had a physiologist talking to me. Someone telling me which direction to walk in. SO many people talking to me at the same time! It was just mental! I got to the top of the stairs……3, 2, 1 the doors opened ….. I was fed to the lions!
I did get some cheers and some boos, the whole thing is pantomime as we know and they want to make good tv. As I’ve said the launch it was a complete blur, I can’t remember a thing, I have watched it back but it still doesn’t feel like it was me, it feels like there was an actor playing me! A look alike actor (laughs) Then up the stairs and through the door which closed behind me…….THIS WAS IT!
I was Housemate 8 (or 9) so there was a lot of them in already, so again crazy, people jumping on you introducing themselves, they all seemed such BIG personalities!
ME: Who did you clicked with immediately?
No 1 has to be Jackson (Blyton) we were friends from that first night, along with Lateysha and Laura but with so many people it was hard to take in and everyone was SO excited naturally, or buzzing as have been know to say! Like me they had been in hiding for what seemed an eternity! To talk and interact with someone (other than your chaperone or BB Team) was fantastic!
ME: Tell me about the House
The house felt crowded, and it’s not as big as it looks on tv, must be the camera angles? It was intense and not a lot of places to go to be on your own, in fact you are NEVER really on your own. When you are used to just your own family with SO many housemates it felt very claustrophobic at times. I was in there for 7 whole weeks!! And as been said before, 1 day feels like a week. The whole of the first week, we were up till 6am most nights, drinking and still buzzing, still running on adrenalin.
ME: So, was there a supply of alcohol
Yep, we drank every single night for 7 weeks, there was only one night we didn’t because of a punishment. It is limited so you can’t get smashed (well not if you just drank your allocation) and BB were more generous at the start. Obviously for entertainment value as most things started after a couple of drinks
ME: What did it feel like sleeping in a room with other people
I LOVED it! That was my favorite thing. Bed time was the best time in the house! Through the day its extremely boring, nothing to do, unless you have a task, which usually only started mid afternoon, you are up at 9.30 in the morning. You HAVE to get up, they wake you and only have the electrical equipment switched on for an hour, and that’s it! Two hairdryers and two hair straighteners between all the housemates, and just that one hour to use them! SO you get showered, wash your hair (and you know what I’m like about my hair). BB do that to cause friction, they don’t want you sat around getting ready all day.
ME: What about the tasks?
The tasks were completely crazy!
ME: You took part in the funniest one ever, if I ever want cheering up, I watch it!
The tasks, they were like bush tucker trials! Jungle level! I’ve watch BB for last 12 years and never had they have such brutal tasks! They put you under such intense situations. You HAVE to do it, if you don’t win, you don’t get the luxury food! They starved us sometimes, once for two days, we lived on water and porridge, no milk, no sugar, there was one time we had to wear rags too. Some of us didn’t eat the porridge as it was so rank, so we were starving. Dehydrated and agitated. Which is exactly what BB wants.
Some of the tasks where very funny, and they broke up the day, thank god for SOMETHING to do. When you have has the same conversation with the same person 10 times over, you need something else to focus on.
ME: What was General BB life like?
You’ve got to know everyone in the first two weeks The only thing left to do then is talk about each other and that’s when the bitching starts, and as I was not one to join in, I tended to mope around all day, and smoke! I was smoking 25 cigs a day! We made up garden games, but on rainy days we’d just be sat in, you cant even take a nap as you get woken up by BB
ME: Tell me about Lateysha
I liked her from the start, but I think at first we were a bit wary of each other? I knew who she was as I had seen her in The Valleys. To be honest I did prejudge her & thought she was going to be a huge bitch, I was SO surprised when I realised what a lovely and amazing person that she is. Honestly she is the most genuine, down to earth, beautiful girl, who was there for the completely the right reasons, and she was there for me when I needed someone. I don’t know what I would have done without her! I will always count on her as a REAL friend.
ME: Did the Laura/Marco situation affect the house?
At first it didn’t, it was just ‘leave them to it’, but then it did get awkward and there was a definite atmosphere. As housemates we didn’t realise how ‘racy’ the relationship was until after seeing the footage. Laura is a sweet girl, and we saw her real personality when Marco had left. As for Marco, well he is a massive personality and I have never met anyone like him……and probably never will again!
ME: I think the perceived ‘friction’ that BB expected fell a bit flat, what do you think?
Yeah basically BB wanted that friction makes good TV, but it only really ‘worked’ with Jason & Charlie. Jane & Chelsea’s story was a bit ‘odd’ and apart from a bit of bitching was not as explosive as BB would have liked.
The situation with me a Ryan, I think they expected a complete blow up and repercussions throughout the whole series, but I wasn’t prepared to waste MY BB experience arguing with anyone.
Ryan did come into the house all guns blazing, I took him to one side (I know it wasn’t aired) and said Ryan, ‘What are you doing, this isn’t the real you?’, I’ve known him for years, he actually apologised and said he just wanted to ‘give them what they wanted’. I wasn’t going to rise to it, as if I did, I would then be the one that was being fake!!
ME: A lot of people say they ‘forget’ about the cameras
Deadly honest with you, yea you DO forget to a certain extent, you know they are there as there is loads of them, and you know that they are behind every mirror, every corner and that your personal microphone is picking up everything! Snores, burps & everything!
There were some people in there, very aware of what they were doing and saying every second of the day. I just got on with it, tried to have a laugh, tried to make it the best experience possible and not worry that I was getting ‘airtime’ I like to think I kept my pride and dignity at all times, but that is ME and my character!
ME: Favorite moments?
When my mum came in, although it was so brief.
Running up to that task, I was a bit down, I’d been in the house for probably a month (or maybe 5 weeks) and was starting to really miss my family, friends and home….and normality!
I have never been away from home than longer than a week before! As the task was revealed, I REALLY hoped there was going to be someone there for me! I needed to see someone who knew me properly!
The task was going on for 3 days & I had to wait until the last day, I had been called a couple of times to go into the task where other people got to see loved ones….and I was about to give up hope! SO when it was my turn & it was my mum, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, in fact I THINK I did both at once!
(We did pause at this point as we were both filling up!!!)
It was literally for 5 minutes though and it was like being in prison as she wasn’t to allowed to say anything to me, just a weird experience for us both, but I was SO glad she came. It really lifted me up and gave me the strength to get though the rest of my time in the BB house
ME: You said that you needed strength, would you ever have ‘walked’?
Never in a million years, it is such a huge opportunity that thousands of people want and audition for year after year. I was grateful to be there. This season there was 10 attempted exits, I can understand, to a point, as it is such an intense environment and NO where to go to get away from it…..but why, want the experience and then walk away from it? NO I would never have done it myself.
ME: Worse Experience?
Being in the bottom 3 at the Live Eviction, was such an awful feeling. This was 6 weeks in and until that point had no idea how I was being perceived to the outside world and more so the voting public. Other people as part of task got ‘snippets’ of info, but I had absolutely NOTHING to go on. We were mostly clueless about how we were coming across, on eviction nights we weren’t actually listening to Emma we were listening to hear the crowds.
I had not been put up for eviction once so I knew the housemates liked me, so consequently I had not experienced the boos or cheers on eviction nights like a lot of people had, no one had shouted my name or anything.
SO on the Eviction Day I could not understand why I was not being saved, and even the housemates were completely baffled as why I was up! That was the night I also had a big argument with Laura too…..so yes, worst experience.
I also had an horrendous few days with the Annihilation Week which was just basically mental torture, it screwed with your head, every day we had to go into the ‘Deliberation’ Room and you knew who ever was chosen would be out through the back door, evicted immediately and as it was a face to face task, it made it even worse! I felt guilty that I had played a part in ending another housemates dream.
I KNOW it’s ‘JUST A GAME’ but these people are your housemates that you have spent 24/7 with…. Underneath we are all the same, with the same feelings……it was SO brutal! We dreaded every day of that task as you knew from waking up that you would have to do it later that day.
ME: Do you think there was anyone who went before they should have?
Georgina, for definite, she’s a really nice girl, but the only clips that were shown were of here being nasty or controlling. She had her moments as we all did but she is hilarious!!
ME: You did seem to get on with everyone
I did have a couple of minor arguments. as you could argue about just about anything some days when the pressure gets to you. There was of course the Mayo incident, and anyone who knows me know how serious I am about Mayo! There was a lot more to the incident that than was shown, some of it hilarious but they made it all about Ryan & Hughie. I was shown quite a bit on Channel 5 BB website but not much got on air.
It just proves the way the show is edited that if you are not taking part in big drama, a relationship or controversial story line, you will not get airtime, as there is, what 48 minutes per night of the main show?
Ryan and Hugie were SO funny & entertaining to watch, but at times, annoying and just too in your face. I’ve met up with them in Blackpool recently. They are adorable together!
ME: What was it like coming out?
The night me & Alex came out, we totally thought we were though to the final, but there was one last savage twist, although being realistic there were 8 people left which just felt like too many for a final.
The paranoia in the house, had just hit another level, you speculate all day every day about what is going to happen as you have nothing else to think about. The chats in the Diary Room also add to that, sometimes you came out thinking, why did they ask me that??
It was the Fun Fair task and we thought it would be fun! I did have a strange feeling that morning about the Zoltan thing and when we were asked to take a seat on it, I just knew, and as Alex had been voted the most forgettable in the house, I just though this is it!…….and it was! Out through the back door in a stupid Fun Fair outfit! But to be completely truthful I was ready to go, I knew I wasn’t going to win with all the big personalities, I REALLY thought it would be either Andy or Hughie. It might have been nice to make it to the Final…but it wasn’t to be!
We did have our interview with Emma and Rylan, the only bit that was skipped was walking down the stairs and seeing the audience reactions.
It gave me & Alex a couple of days to get sorted for the Final, we had togo back in hiding until the programme had aired. We both sat in our hotel room on the Monday night watching ourselves being evicted, it was dead emotional! It was sad to see my experience end but was glad I shared it with Alex.
The next day we were taken to Watford and we got mobbed, we couldn’t believe it and still can’t, people are genuinely lovely and people of ALL ages and whole families came up to us for photos or to shake our hands, give us a hug, all very heartwarming……and a bit bizarre!
ME: Any regrets?
Non at all! It was an amazing experience that only very few people get. I was glad I was true to myself, and made mum, friends, work colleagues and the community ……proud.
Thanks for all the local support and lovely messages from all over the world. It really goes to show that being a ‘good guy’ shone through.
ME: Do you stay in touch with your housemates?
Yeah most of them, I have been in London most weekends, there is always something going on.
ME: What’s next?
I have had a pretty mad couple of years and there seems to be no let up, taking each day and opportunity as it comes. Still loving the hair dressing and making ladies look FABULOUS!!
See me in October in a new series called The Bi Life on E! Entertainment
Surprised that BB has been cancelled so even more grateful that I was one of the 120 men and 133 women that took part in it! That makes it a very exclusive club!
All images courtesy of Channel 5 bigbrother.channel5.com/