ALMOST 20 years ago 10 strangers first entered the UK Big Brother house, voluntarily stepping into a self-isolation, as people the world over cope with social distancing, former Big Brother housemates share their tips on surviving the coronavirus lockdown.
Nikki Grahame was the first housemate ever to be voted back into the house.
Try to keep busy
“I’ve been doing colour-by-number books, which are really relaxing and therapeutic, and I’m reading The Da Vinci Code, which is a big book to keep me busy. I’ve ordered a couple of jigsaws, which is a good way to tune out, too. I’ve got a very clean flat as well because I’ve been busy cleaning the cupboards out. I’ve got crafty too, and made a hanging bird treat from a loo roll, peanut butter and bird seed.”
Learning new skills
“I’m studying teaching, it felt like a great time to do that. And once this is all over it’s a skill I can use to travel the world.”
Kate Lawler was the first UK female winner.
“In Big Brother we didn’t have phones, we didn’t have books, we didn’t have TV and we couldn’t watch films. But we did have a garden, which made it a hell of a lot easier. We survived by making our own fun, which I guess is similar to now, because we can’t go out at the weekend to the pub, or to a restaurant, or see our mates.
“In Big Brother, I think I remember us playing hide and seek, which was ridiculous because it was just a house and we were hiding in really obvious places.”
Coping with an uncertain future
“In Big Brother, you knew that you had 12 weeks, and it was summer, and ultimately it was a bit of a doss and you were potentially going to win some money at the end of it. But now, we could be in this lockdown for three weeks, or three months, or six months… we just have no idea.
“I’m sure if everybody was being told to lock down and the person who stayed indoors the longest would win £70,000, everybody would be willing to comply a lot more.”
Craig Phillips was the first UK Big Brother winner:
“I keep thinking that, now we’re all self-contained and can’t go out. When we were in the house we just wanted to see our friends, see our family and get out of the four walls. It was really pressurised, certainly, after 64 days locked in there.
“The Big Brother house looked bigger on TV than it actually was and we couldn’t open the front door and had no windows to look out of. We could look in the garden, of course, through the patio doors, but no window to look outside and see what was going on in the real world. At least now we can go out for a walk in the park or to the shops.
“It forced us to make friends because most of the people in there I generally wouldn’t have hung around with. We became friends because of the circumstances of living in the house.”
The first person ever to be ejected from the house was ‘Nasty’ Nick Bateman.
Tips for staying in…
“Step outside and count the stars or clouds, depending on the time of day. Or go for a bath or a shower. You need your own zone, especially with others around.
“Lockdown in the 21st century with the internet is a lot easier… I have a large family and I went to a boarding school, so I am used to having people around.
“We’re in partial lockdown here in Sydney, Australia, so we are allowed out, and can walk and take a drive. Walking twice a day for an hour will clear your head.
“Fall into a routine, and there is always something you can do – cleaning, cooking or playing cards.”