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Reality TV Interview

Big Brother Emma Willis interview: 'I'd make the tea just to work on BB'

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Big Brother: Emma Willis

© Channel 5

Emma Willis was many fans' pick to land the main Big Brother hosting job on Channel 5. An "out of the closet" obsessed supporter of the show, she knows her Kingas from her Kemals and impressed on Little Brother last year.

So there was huge relief when it was confirmed that she'd be helming new spinoff series Bit On The Side when the show returns next week. We caught up with Emma to get her views on the programme's return and ask why she reads her critics on Digital Spy.

You did Little Brother last year, so this should be a walk in the park, right?
"It will be a lot more frightening for me. That's one big difference. There's nobody to fall back on for me, because I'm the main host now without George. I think that's the beauty of doing live television, though. If something goes wrong, I quite like it. It shows that it's natural, organic and not everything's perfect."

What's the format of Bit On The Side?
"It will have similarities to Big Mouth and Little Brother, but be completely new at the same time. There will be exclusives, debates and all the behind-the-scenes things you'd expect. Some of the people will be from the old shows working on them again, some will be new. I'll have an audience for the first time, it will be an hour long, we'll have lots of guests. But at the moment, that's all I know... honestly. There will be fresh blood and fresh ideas, that's the main thing."

You are genuinely a Big Brother fanatic, aren't you?
"I am obsessed. I'm pretty out the closet with my obsession. I'm out there and proud. Every single episode pretty much. When I'm free, I watch the live feed as well. I've loved pretty much every series, apart from four, and even that I watched."

What's the appeal of the show?
"I think I'm really nosy. People interest me and I do it if I'm in a cab or in a restaurant or whether I'm watching Big Brother at home. That's the bare bottom of it."

Do you think your knowledge stands up against other super fans?
"I do brush on it every now and then. Last year when I started it - and this is really sad - I got one of the runners to print out copies of all the housemates from every year, so I had the pictures and names of everyone. My dressing room was just covered in the faces of contestants. The people who love this show are fanatics and they want someone who truly loves it as well."



Who are your favourite contestants from previous series?
"I loved Brian from the first time I saw him, right through to Ultimate. Jade was like a breath of fresh air in Big Brother 3. Kate Lawler was great, Alex Sibley was great. I loved Victor. Victor was Mr Nasty the first time, but I really saw a different side to him last year. I hated him in Big Brother 5, he got under my skin and drove me mad. But he was a great character and meeting him, he was a really nice guy. I've never really hated anyone. I wasn't keen on Charley from Big Brother 8. But I don't think anyone was."

Does your opinion often change when you meet the housemates outside the show?
"Yes they do. You have this perception from watching these people and then they come out and are totally different. Or they are the same, like with Charley! But the biggest change in my mind was John McCririck. I was really quite scared about interviewing him and I met him and he was so charming. He has this TV persona and I love how he tries to wind people up. He was someone I totally changed my mind about. When I see him, he'll be like, 'you're ruining my image!'"

What would you do that would annoy people if you were in the house?
"Me? Nothing. No. Nothing. I think I'd be quite quiet. Would that wind people up? People would be like, 'what does she do?' I think I'd be quiet. Quiet and nosy."

Do you think the show's quality dipped in later years on Channel 4?
"I think through the middle it got quite controversial. As if it was trying to shock. I don't know if that was intentional, it may have just happened. People got more savvy and knew the more outrageous they were, the more press coverage they would get. Hopefully it can go back to its original glory days now on Channel 5."

Brian says he doesn't want sex in the house. Are you a fan of 'BB sexploits'?
"No, I totally agree with Brian, I don't want sex in there. I think people believe that because it's being relaunched they'll get more shocks and more wackiness than ever before. I really hope that's not the case. I don't want to see that. Didn't we see sex on the Teen one anyway? It's a bit wrong. It cheapens it a little bit."

Big Brother: Emma Willis

© Channel 5



What do you think to the rumour Charlie Sheen is going in the Celeb version?
"He was the rumour, he is the best rumour, but if we keep talking about him and he doesn't go in, we're all going to be gutted. I know I will be. He would have been just amazing. Pam would be incredible as well. Pamela Anderson. We feel like we know so much about her, but that's all very much for show and through the media. Pam would be great."

What would you think if on the opening night, the celeb contestants are unveiled and suddenly Matt Willis appears on the walkway?
"I'd love it. I'd be so excited. I seriously think I'd love it. But I don't know what I'd do if people didn't like him. I'd get quite defensive and angry. 'He's amazing!' But he won the jungle, so hopefully he'd do OK. He is quite a nice guy... honest! I think he'd get on quite well in there in terms of perception. But personally, himself, I don't think he'd do great. He struggles with boredom and there's a lot of downtime in there."

Is this a sink or swim year for Big Brother?
"People will be very quick to judge the show on a couple of episodes and they'll be quick to judge Brian on his first show. And they'll be very quick to judge how crap I am at debating. I think critics are too quick to put the pressure on. It is an existing show, but it's a new age of a show and it needs time to settle. We all need time to settle. People need to give it some breathing space. So don't give us a hard time... especially you and your forums!"

Do you read people's opinions on the show?
"I read Twitter every day and I read Digital Spy occasionally as well."

That was your first mistake!
"I know [laughs]. That's what everyone told me, Don't read it! But you need to listen to criticism. Some people are personal and downright rude. Those things you don't need to read. But there are things you can learn. There are things I've learned from the people that don't like me on Digital Spy. I think you can always learn from a little bit of negativity. I just hope you guys can give it a bit of space to find its feet and let us all get settled. But I know that won't happen. I'm a realist."

Were you ever in the frame to be the main host?
"Yes, I believe I was. I believe there were many people in the frame. I'm just glad I got a job on it. I don't really care where it is. I'll go make the tea around the back as long as I can watch the feed. And I'm pleased I'm not Brian on the opening night. I think I'll be crapping it."

Celebrity Big Brother launches on August 18 at 9pm on Channel 5.

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