Imagine a world — a fresh, bold, beautiful world — where reality television showed a teensy bit of actual reality.
"Love Island" could run a referendum for its own heart-shaped purple passports, "Gogglebox" could have impartial political analysts on the sofa running fact checks over every episode of “Question Time”, and Simon Cowell might admit that, really, he doesn’t give a hoot what version of Purple Rain is hollered by the nation’s darling so long it’s added to a viral Spotify playlist the following morning.
But above all, we might get some real talk on some vital issues.
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"Celebrity Big Brother" is back, but with a feminist rebrand. Every contestant who enters the house as the series launches tonight will be female, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of British women over 30 winning the vote. It then took another decade for all adults, regardless of gender, to be able to vote from the age of 21.
🌟Merry Christmas from #CBB. Here's a little gift from us... 🌟— Big Brother UK (@bbuk) December 25, 2017
Join us for the brand new series on Tuesday 2nd January at 9pm on @Channel5_tvpic.twitter.com/YW2aW0egmx
“Celebrity Big Brother: Year of the Woman” will reportedly be bringing a “classy all-female lineup” to Channel 5, according to journalist and confirmed contestant Rachel Johnson, focusing on “empowerment” over “ritual humiliation”.
"The men will arrive slightly later and "Big Brother" provides the perfect lens through which to explore what it is to be a woman — and a man — in 2018,” said Tamsin Dodgson, "Celebrity Big Brother" executive editor, in an interview with BBC News.
"Gender feels like the perfect concept to explore within Big Brother,” Dodgson continued. “Our celebrities, as you'd expect, come with differing backgrounds, experiences and points of view, so I think you can expect a lively, opinionated, but ultimately entertaining series to kick off the New Year."
Read More: An All-Female ‘Lord of the Flies’ Remake Was Just Announced — And the Internet Isn’t Happy
Rachel Johnson — daughter of “I’m a Celebrity” participant Stanley and sister to Foreign Secretary Boris — is already in. Other rumoured contestants include inspirational transgender newsreader India Willoughby, ex-Tory MP and Brexiteer Charlotte Leslie, and former "Big Brother" winner and successful entrepreneur Katie Price.
Just as 2017 exhaled its last tired hours, Global Citizen predicted that 2018 the Year of the Woman too. Genuinely, we’re stoked to see what Channel 5 have got up their sleeves, highlighting some brilliant women as feminism breaks through to mass-consumption — and, hopefully, mass-practice.
But if it were up to us, these are the women we’d be sending into the house.
Oxford University fresher, global superstar, and followed by "THe Apprentice" host Lord Sugar on Twitter: Malala is the celebrity millennial the world needs right now.
The activist and published author has a few other minor achievements too. The 20-year-old founded a multi-million pound girls education charity after the Taliban shot her in the head just for going to school, was the youngest-ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and is still the youngest United Nations Messenger of Peace — the UN’s highest honour.
Just to name a few. Get her involved before she has to go back to uni!
5 years ago, I was shot in an attempt to stop me from speaking out for girls' education. Today, I attend my first lectures at Oxford. pic.twitter.com/sXGnpU1KWQ— Malala (@Malala) October 9, 2017
2) Helen Pankhurst
Helen Pankhurst knows what a legacy looks like. She’s the great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst — powerful women at the forefront of the movement to achieve women’s suffrage in Britain a century ago.
Now, she fights for gender equality as a senior advisor at Care International UK. Turn off those "Friends" reruns and get that good stuff on the telly! It already sounds like she’s keen too.
"Anything that draws attention to the centenary and allows a discussion and gets that message through to different audiences is a great thing," Pankhurst said of Big Brother to the BBC. "I'll be really interested to hear what the audience have to say about it all and to hear the whole discussion it will promote."
Read More: The DNA of a Suffragette — Emmeline Pankhurst’s Great-Granddaughter on Why the Fight Isn’t Over
Global Citizen caught up with Pankhurst after a gender equality march last year, chatting about community action, the importance of UK aid, and why “feminism is a global issue.”
For #InternationalWomensDay, we spoke to @HelenPankhurst about global solidarity. https://t.co/hiFokjX9zC— Global Citizen UK (@GlblCtznUK) March 8, 2017
3) Camilla Thurlow
"Love Island" star, bomb disposal expert, refugee crisis activist.
The last time such a trinity worked so productively? Probably the last Take That tour. Don’t @ me.
Camilla Thurlow brings reality to television. After finishing as a runner-up in the immensely popular 2017 series, she went on tour — not as a VIP to themed club nights around regional England, but to Greece, to shed light on the plight of refugees.
She then appeared on HuffPost’s documentary series “New Activists” — and has accumulated hundreds of thousands of Instagram “likes” as she’s brought an often ignored problem into the mainstream public eye.
“I think the most important thing we should be doing is making sure the world does not forget or turn away from this huge crisis that is happening,” she told HuffPost. “As soon as you’ve seen that level of trauma, you just can’t close your eyes, you have to do something.”
And when the men arrive, let’s see Jamie Jewitt — Thurlow’s partner in castaway romance and refugee activism — join her to show the nation what a real power couple looks like.
Today we were immensely humbled to join the Soul Food Kitchen team to help with the preparation and distribution of meals to homeless refugees in Thessaloniki. We met the loveliest volunteers who are not only giving their time here, but are acting as powerful advocates back at home. They have made the decision to #chooselove with @HelpRefugeesUK, and their efforts are making an incredible difference to wonderful people trapped in a desperate situation. If you would like to support them please do take a look at the #chooselove t-shirt, which is available on @asos - all proceeds go towards helping refugees across Europe and in the Middle East 💛. The extremely talented @jamiejewitt_ is doing an amazing job of capturing footage of our time here with @indigovolunteers, and we cannot wait to share it all with you when we get home 📽
4) Caitlin Moran
Caitlin Moran is a bestselling writer, avid Glastonbury-goer, and adopts a reality television-friendly method of parenting.
Indeed, she adored "Love Island" so much that she watched it every week with her daughters to teach them about life.
“One of the most underrated ways to be a parent… is watching trashy TV with your teenage kids,” Moran wrote in her Times column last year, citing a show like "Big Brother" as a spectacle that resembles “amateur documentary recreations of what happens to you, over and over, in your teens and 20s.”
"Celebrity Big Brother" is real life in action — and Britain’s children (plus me) need Moran’s wise interjections to make sense of it all. Stop watching reality TV with your kids — and get them to watch you on it instead!
THANKS MATE. It was a rare angry column: https://t.co/CwCKjmKLjZ— Caitlin Moran (@caitlinmoran) November 13, 2017
5) Leyla Hussein
Leyla Hussein is an award- winning activist, psychotherapist, and writer fighting against an undeniably British problem.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the non-medical practice that removes or cuts parts of the female genitalia. A new case is reported in the UK every single hour, according to official NHS data, and an estimated 137,000 women and girls live with it. But despite FGM being illegal in the UK since 1985, there has never been a successful conviction.
So let’s put the problem exactly where everybody can see it.
Read More: A New FGM Case Is Reported in the UK Every Single Hour, Says New Study
Hussein’s CV is sound: she has TV experience with Channel 4 — the original home of "Big Brother" — after presenting BAFTA-nominated FGM documentary “The Cruel Cut” in 2013. You might recognise her from a massive mural portrait in London celebrating powerful black women, she’s been on the “Guilty Feminist” podcast more times than Jedward has had new hairstyles, and she shamelessly adores the escapism of reality shows.
“Just because I watch ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ doesn't mean I'm less clever, or less angry about the inequality and heinous violence women and girls endure on a daily basis,” Hussein wrote once in Cosmopolitan.
Sisterhood moves mountains a great reminder from our @hodoMAli#skimptalkpic.twitter.com/uZ52kavWQi— Leyla Hussein FRSA (@LeylaHussein) December 13, 2017
6) Jane Goodall
Sometimes the "Big Brother" house can feel like a jungle.
So Channel 5 had better get an expert in. And there’s none better than Jane Goodall — the most famous primate scientist in human history.
Read More: Jane Goodall Calls for Climate Change Action to Save Planet at Global Citizen Festival
She’s the second UN Messenger for Peace on our shopping list, a devoted environmentalist, and international green superhero. Here’s the woman herself on stage at the Global Citizen festival in Central Park — briefly speaking to us in her second native tongue, chimpanzee.
The researcher. The scientist. The legend. Jane Goodall! 👩🔬 🐵 @JaneGoodallInstitute pic.twitter.com/qsPwgD6RRW— Global Citizen (@GlblCtzn) September 23, 2017
7) Caroline Criado-Perez
"Big Brother" aren’t the only ones celebrating the centenary of women getting the vote.
Feminist activist Caroline Criado-Perez launched a viral campaign in 2016 to physically commemorate the suffrage movement with Parliament Square’s first female statue — and won. The petition, publicly backed by J.K. Rowling and Emma Watson, received over 85,000 signatures, and London mayor Sadiq Khan has now commissioned a statue of Millicent Fawcett to be erected in time for the anniversary.
Read More: This Suffragist Leader Will Be the First Woman Honoured With a Statue in London's Parliament Square
Win! And remember the Jane Austen £10 bank note? Yep, that was Criado-Perez too. Double-win!
Got the new £10!My heart jumps for joy seeing years of activism coming to fruition!Hats off to Caroline Criado-Perez! #feminism#janeaustenpic.twitter.com/9GAUCl0iyL— PoweredbyLove (@KHadzhinesheva) October 10, 2017
John Lennon once said that “if everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace.”
But maybe what we really need is rapturous televised dialogue — noise, tweets, talk — about issues from women who really know what they’re talking about.
Here come the women. "Celebrity Big Brother" airs tonight (Jan. 2) at 9pm on Channel 5.
Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals, including Goal No. 5 for gender equality. Take action now before your life is taken over by the 24/7 "Big Brother" live stream.
Tonight’s the night! We’ll see you at 9pm on Channel 5 for an ALL FEMALE #CBB launch! @Rylan 🎉 🎉 pic.twitter.com/F3ZxeheP99— Big Brother UK (@bbuk) January 2, 2018