TIME to inject some calm into the hysteria surrounding a certain reality TV show.
There will be no public crowd at tonight’s Celebrity Big Brother eviction due to the current heightened feelings over the series.
Channel 4’s email in my in-box reads: “Over the past few days, Celebrity Big Brother has generated an intense and, at times, heated public debate which the evicted housemate will be unaware of.
”As a result, Channel 4 and Endemol have taken the decision to conduct tonight’s eviction in front of a studio audience and without a crowd.”
Jade Goody is red hot favourite to be evicted this evening in a straight vote with Shilpa Shetty.
Jade denies the abuse she directed at Shilpa in the house was racially motivated and the Bollywood star herself has said: “It’s not racist.”
Opinion outside the house is divided. But one thing is clear. The level of news coverage this week has reached ridiculous proportions.
Once in a while a story like this lifts off, with the facts often buried under a sea of comment.
Yes, many people complained. And then thousands jumped on the bandwagon, including the tabloids – always happy to stir a story to keep it going – and politicians.
You know things are getting out of control when ministers and MPs start making statements about Big Brother.
Due to the working hours of the House of Commons, the vast majority of them are totally out of touch with mainstream TV shows – they simply don’t watch them.
And yet some have seen fit to put their views forward based on ignorance of the full content of Celebrity Big Brother and the context of the show.
It’s plain that some viewers do regard Jade’s comments as racist, which they may well be.
Is Jade’s ignorance an excuse? Obviously not. But think back to Jade’s first appearance as an ordinary housemate in the 2002 series of Big Brother.
Her subsequent celebrity status was sparked by the ignorance and stupidity she displayed in that third series of the show.
It’s those same qualities that have got her, along with Danielle and Jo, into so much trouble now.
Jade’s comments are wrong and must be condemned. She will now face the consequences, as will others.
As for Channel 4’s role in all this, I believe a lot of the criticism they have faced is misplaced. All TV bosses have done is show both sides of the argument and opened up a public debate.
Tonight’s vote has turned into a referendum on racism with little doubt about the outcome. It will send a welcome message.
But when we look back in a few days, weeks or months about how this story spread from a fake TV house in Hertfordshire all the way to Gordon Brown’s visit to India, won’t the scale of the coverage look just a little bit silly?
10pm Friday update: Jade was duly evicted, receiving 82 per cent of the total votes cast.