Yesterday former housemate Gillian Taylforth - a woman who really should have learned to keep her mouth shut after her annus horribilis of 1994 - nonchalantly revealed on live TV that Rylan Clark had been sneaking out of the compound to rehearse for the upcoming X Factor tour. Apparently she didn't get the memo about it being a secret.
Channel 5 were quick to reel out the excuses, claiming that Rylan had been practicing on site with a single choreographer (sidebar - no mention of a vocal coach), was forbidden from discussing details of the outside world and was kept on a tight leash by a member of the production team.
But fans were still outraged - and rightly so. The problem with Rylan stepping out of the house willy nilly is that it entirely undermines the premise of Big Brother. It disregards the very thing that first attracted fans to the show almost 13 years ago, the hook of watching how people cope in complete isolation.
No matter how extreme the characters got or how many silly twists were implemented over the years, there was still that core element of living in a bubble. That is what made people stay with the show during its darkest, most disappointing years. That is what made Big Brother, Big Brother.
Would you still watch I'm a Celebrity if you discovered that the campers were being taken for steaks in a posh hotel every night? What about if X Factor had allowed James Arthur to mime for two weeks? It's just insulting and unfair to the viewers as well as the other contestants (all those complaints about Speidi getting preferential treatment look kind of insignificant now, don't they?)
Of course, the Big Brother format has been tweaked and changed since those early days, and yes, people have left the house before and come back in. It happened as early as the fourth series in 2003, when Cameron Stout was taken to the South African Big Brother for a week. And don't forget that even in the last Celebrity series Jasmine Lennard and Rhian Sugden got to pop out for a supermarket shopping spree.
Big Brother viewers have come to accept change, and these little trips to the outside world passed without incident because even though they weren't strictly in keeping with the premise, we at least felt comfortable that everything was above board. We watched the contestants being blindfolded, bundled into empty cars and escorted to their location.
And we probably would have forgiven BB for letting Rylan out of the house a few times if we had a guarantee that there was no funny business. After all, he's an entertaining and popular contestant, the current favourite to win, and if made to choose between not having him on the show or letting him occasionally duck out to fulfil his X Factor obligations, most would plump for the latter.
But the crux of the matter is that we weren't told about this, and we're willing to bet this would never have come out if it weren't for Gillian's blabbing. Channel 5 have come across as very sneaky in this whole thing, exploiting the lack of live feed - already a sore point for devout fans - to do whatever they want. This goes beyond unfortunate reality TV conventions like creative editing and heavily stacked twists - it's out-and-out deception.
The confirmation by BB producers that Rylan's X Factor rehearsals were agreed to before the series even started haven't helped matters. That only shows how much planning went in to misleading us. These weren't emergency measures taken under pressure from worried X Factor bosses, for example. Channel 5 could have been upfront and honest about what was going on, but they decided against it. They had plenty of opportunity after that to update us on the situation, but they didn't.
That raises bigger questions about Channel 5's attitude to Big Brother and Big Brother viewers. How can we be sure that Rylan's rehearsals were as tightly monitored as they say? What else have they been hiding from us this series? What have they hid in previous series? Was the decision to axe the live feed before a single series aired a premeditated attempt to control everything?
Who knows? There is no transparency, no trust. With the live feed gone, we put faith in Channel 5 to provide us with a relatively accurate portrayal of house life, and instead they did this.
To make things worse, it seems like Channel 5 are kind of indifferent to the whole situation. They didn't care enough to inform us what was going on, they didn't care that what they were doing might be pulling apart the fabric of a TV institution, and judging by how little it's been addressed by anyone outside of the BB press team, they don't care that we're upset.
Sure, Channel 4 mishandled and damaged the show plenty during its 11 years there, but there was never anything as bad as this. You could argue that allowing Nikki Grahame to skip about in the outside world for three weeks before putting her back and making her eligible to win was a far worse offence, but at least that can be categorised as an oversight, a desperate, misjudged grab for ratings. Channel 5's actions feel cold. They have inherited this prized format and treated it, and us, with indifference.
Some may accuse us of going over the top with this comparison, but heck, we're going to make it anyway - the whole Rylan thing is not that dissimilar to the Tesco burger scandal from last week.
Not everyone is outraged by the idea of eating horse meat. Not everyone is outraged by the idea of Rylan getting in some essential rehearsals. But what we can't accept are the stories about what we were being presented with. Big Brother go on all the time about housemates breaking fundamental rules of the show, and yet that's exactly what they've done. And like the housemates who commit those offences, it's only right they be punished somehow.
What are your thoughts about Rylan leaving the Celebrity Big Brother house? Leave your comments below!