Berry & Green

Creative. Strategic. Communications.

Bye Bye Big Brother pt 2

When Sandy Cumming escaped the Big Brother house in 2003 by climbing over the wall - a stunt later made impossible by production staff who booby-trapped the wall with caesium bombs and bubble-wrap filled with hydrochloric acid - he told reporters that he’d done it purely so that people would know his surname. Tragically, he became known as “Sandy, the one who escaped by climbing over the wall” but it was worth a try.

A couple of years later, I was due to provide aftercare for Derek Laud, an eloquent, Conservative, well-dressed gentleman with whom I had got on well during our brief pre-house chat. He was odds-on favourite to be evicted and I was rather looking forward to reacquainting with him.

In the days before his eviction, however, the office had numerous calls from a right-wing MP and his wife who, for legal reasons, we shall call Noel and Caroline Himmelton. They explained that Derek had assigned them to look after him the minute he left the House and could we facilitate such a thing. We could - up to a point.

On eviction night, I met Derek straight from his compulsory psych meeting (it was very short - he was clearly of sound mind) and asked whether he had designated his power of attorney to the Himmeltons. He had. However, it was 1am on a Saturday morning so the sensible thing for everyone to do was to retire to the very posh Hertfordshire hotel and relax - we would finalise everything in the morning.

On arrival at the very posh hotel, the Himmeltons were very upset about the lack of……poshness and asked for a better hotel. I explained that at this late hour, we would be unlikely to find out and that this would have to suffice. As a bonus, I cheerfully revealed that, if necessary, Big Brother had set aside about £200 expenses at the hotel so they could have a quick drink before bed. This news was met with as much delight as if I’d suggested they all crawl down a sewage pipe in their pyjamas. I decided to leave them to it.

By morning, they’d managed to somehow accrue a bill of over £500, mostly on champagne and cigars. It’s unlikely any of them had slept and yet the three politicos declared that they were off to Wiltshire and were leaving immediately in Noel’s Rolls Royce. I had already ordered my car home and so, for the first and last time ever, I asked the driver to “follow that car”, just in case. We tailed it for five junctions around the M25 as it weaved unsteadily between lanes. We pondered tipping off the police in Berkshire that a reasonably high-profile politician, most likely unfit to drive, would be passing through their patch any minute, but ultimately decided that fate could decide…….