The Independent, 18 August 2011

The thing is that no-one likes to wake up and find it was all a dream. Unless, like me, you spend your nights staggering from one anxiety nightmare to the next, sliding through a parade of lost bags, forgotten meetings and missing keys. In that case, waking up to find that the evil midget who has your wallet but won’t give it back because you can’t guess his name is purely imaginary – it’s a positive fillip. Right up until you realise that a wallet is rather more easily replaced than a subconscious which hates you.

But the soap trope of waking up to find out we dreamt a whole storyline is exactly what has happened to those of us who rashly believed last year that Big Brother was really, finally dead. Channel 4 may have buried it in a lead-lined coffin, but they must have forgotten to jab a stake through its heart and cut off its head. So it’s risen from the grave, less than a year after its overdue demise, and returns tonight, on Five.

They’re starting with Celebrity Big Brother, though if the rumours are correct, they’re stretching that term way beyond its natural elasticity. Pamela Anderson is fair enough, but some bloke from Big Fat Gypsy Weddings and some bird from the American Pie movies is scraping the bottom even of the barrel on which the barrels of actual celebrities are stacked.

And then non-celebrity - or not-celebrity-yet, to give it a more accurate description – Big Brother will follow this initial outing, assuming there is anyone left in Britain wanting to be on television who hasn’t already appeared in an earlier series.

The tabloids are also promising Sally Bercow and Kerry Katona for tonight’s launch, which is surely a risky prospect: if that much self-esteem and lack of self-esteem meet in one place, isn’t there at least the possibility of a black hole appearing in Elstree?

Even if they’d gone for proper big name contestants, I wonder how engrossing another series of Big Brother could possibly be. Reality TV has moved on since CCTV cameras were first trained on the Diary Room back in 2000. We’ve grown used to seeing celebrities learn a skill (Strictly), show off a talent (Masterchef), or eat a bug (I’m A Celebrity). Watching them sit around on sofas, trying to seem nice so they’ll still have a career when they get outside, doesn’t sound anything like as much fun.