With news that Christopher Biggins was removed from the Celebrity Big Brother House for making a joke about the Holocaust and claiming that bisexuals were responsible for spreading the AIDS virus, Celebrity Big Brother has now punched through the exterior crust of the planet and is hurtling towards the spinning iron core.
It's gone past the scraping the barrel. Now it's into actual planetary excavation on a hypothetical scale.
When the first Celebrity Big Brother, back in 2001, was announced, it at least had a modicum of respectability surrounding itself. The contestants, which included comedian Jack Dee, Chris Eubank and our own Keith Duffy, were there with the specific reason of raising funds for charities. The winnings, such as they were, were donated to a nominated charity. If any exposure came from appearing on Celebrity Big Brother, it wasn't addressed and simply considered to be a happy byproduct of the charitable work they did.
As it goes with these things, subsequent years saw 'celebrities' of varying levels appear and disappear and the show became more lurid and invested in reaching tabloid headlines than anything else. The same went for its non-celebrity sister show, which frequently pushed the boundaries of acceptable television. By around 2010, anything remaining vestiges of respectability or dignity around Celebrity Big Brother were gone.
It was Z-list celebrities eking out a pathetic existence and trying to make themselves relevant by making fools of themselves on television for a measly appearance fee. The standard fee, by the way, was rumoured to be around £150,000 to £300,000.
With the proliferation of reality TV shows - such as Geordie Shore, The Only Way Is Essex, Storage Wars and so on - came that most bottom-feeding parasite of modern culture; the reality TV star. People made famous by appearing on a show about how they're essentially not famous. The worm had finally eaten its own tail. With the move to Channel 5, Celebrity Big Brother fully exploited this last barrier to true vacuity and fully embraced its sense of lurid, barrel-scraping celebrity. People from other reality TV shows began to appear on Celebrity Big Brother. How Ofcom hasn't received complaints for false advertising remains a mystery to this day.
Watching the current series of Celebrity Big Brother, it's clear the premise has gone from watching celebrities without their ring of perfectly positioned PR fixers to watching other reality TV show people spit in one another's food or make deeply offensive jokes, only to be laughed off with a spread in a tabloid newspaper.
Trashy TV like Celebrity Big Brother is always going to be around, it's true. For better or worse, it's a part of our landscape and with the success of the Kardashians and E! Network, it's become solidified. However, the issue with Celebrity Big Brother is that it's so forced, so trite and so desperately trying to stay relevant, it's becoming desperate.
It's highly, highly unlikely that researchers on Celebrity Big Brother DIDN'T know that Christopher Biggins was going to make hugely offensive comments when in the house. The same researchers almost definitely knew that Stephen Bear was going to be overly aggressive when challenged. His appearances on other reality TV shows point to this conclusion. Putting these people together and expecting fireworks, sure, that's part of the scheme.
But the truth is that it's gone beyond fireworks to literally trying to outshock the audience at every available turn and that's the lowest kind of television out there.