Jenny Eclair on Big Brother, The Apprentice… and ridiculous six-inch heels

"No wonder the men in The Apprentice are running away with the show – they can walk and think at the same time..."

I watched the opening show of Big Brother One million and Seventeen the other night and couldn’t help noticing that the show seems to have shrunk. Like a badly washed favourite summer-holiday T-shirt, it’s half the size it used to be.


Once upon a time, when Big Brother began (complete with Anna the Irish ex-nun), you had hordes of people storming the studios in east London, waving banners and screaming with excitement. This year, miserable weather did nothing to swell the crowds at Elstree, and I kept seeing the anxious faces of what looked like the contestants’ mums.

And who can blame them? Would you put your daughter in a reality TV show, Mrs Worthington?*

As the parent of a 24-year-old female, the idea of her being paraded across the screens for a whatever-sized crowd to approve or disapprove of makes me feel queasy. I have a horrible feeling the maternal lion instinct would emerge and I would rip the heads off anyone who dared to boo.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame all these young people for having a “bash” at the fame game. If you haven’t managed to get a foothold on a career ladder, then a few weeks in the Big Brother house has got to be more exciting than yet another unpaid internship or waiting for good news on a Jobseeker’s Allowance. Young people have it hard; it’s grim out there. But what I don’t understand is why so many of them insist on making it tougher for themselves?

Which brings me to the subject of shoes. What is it with some females and their shoes? Why are some of my species insisting on stilt-walking through life? It’s 2013 – why are some women insisting they can “do it all” perched on top of a ridiculous six-inch heel?

Can this be the secret behind the lack of success of the “girls” on The Apprentice? Is the fact that they are constantly in fits of bad temper and unable to work as a team due to the simple reason that their feet hurt? Seriously, if they spent less time wobbling around on stilettos with their hair extensions getting stuck to their lip gloss, they might actually be able to concentrate on getting some work done and start proving to the rest of us that the world of business isn’t a constant round of bitching and back-stabbing.

I don’t think I have heard any of those women laugh yet. This is bad, and I’m thinking of heading a campaign entitled “Low-heeled women have more fun” – or “Flatties for ever”. No wonder the men are running away with the show – they can walk and think at the same time.

Even Emma Willis, whom I really like as the new host of Big Brother, admitted, live on air, halfway through the Channel 5 opening-night intros, that her feet were killing her. “Take them off,” I heard myself muttering. “Just take the stupid things off.”

In stark contrast to the silly heelers, I recently recorded five TV shows in a day presented by all-round good egg Mel Giedroyc. (Look out for Draw It! coming soon to daytime on Channel 4 – the most nerve-racking panel game I’ve ever done.) At the end of the day, despite never having sat down, Mel was as fresh as a daisy and she didn’t moan once. And why, dear reader? I looked at her feet and she was wearing a fine pair of tan leather lace-up brogues. Come on, girls, you know it makes sense.


*With apologies to Noel Coward.