It was a short and sweet debut for The Celebrity Circle. I wish it had been a touch longer, just to eek out the carnage as Denise Van Outen Sherlock Holmes’d her way through an almost entire cast of fakes and pretenders.
9. SAFFRON. Barker as Saffron Barker BUT SINGLE!
It’s strange, Saffron was actually quite a big player in the competition and yet this was entirely because she was extremely boring – regularly ending up at the top of the leaderboard more for being an afterthought than anything else. The only person to entertain the idea that she was a catfish (because who would pretend to be Saffron Barker of all people?) was Lady Leshurr who REALLY thought she was a catfish and jeopardised her place within the circle during the unanimous vote.
8. Duncan James as Duncan James
Oh poor Duncan James, the human embodiment of a Vanilla Frappuccino – sweet, bland and doing absolutely nothing to quench your thirst. All he wanted to do was go in and have a nice time but it all turned into a bit of a nightmare the moment he dared to use more than 3 emojis which caused everyone to question his masculinity, landing him in the bottom of the first ratings along with best pal Denise van Outen.
From this point on he pulled off some of the most flagrantly obvious clout chasing that I have ever seen on reality TV resulting in him having a fake fallout with fake Big Narstie and getting kicked out, leaving him to forlornly pack his extensive collection of vests – and you would have thought this was the worst part of the experience for him but truly it was the moment he chose to visit “Gemma Collins” upon his elimination and it turned out to be Nadia Sawalha and Kaye Adams
The simmering rage ❤
7. Charlotte Crosby as Peter Andre
A late entry into The Circle and yet within 30 minutes Charlotte Crosby was ready to crack under the pressure of maintaining the beige façade of Peter Andre. Her charade was actually good in that her limp messages were exactly the brand of infuriatingly vague that Peter Andre exudes at all times, which was ultimately an undoing because it drove Pete Wicks up the wall!
Despite her relative backgroundedness she was actually quite an important player and could have been the lynchpin in unmasking Big Narstie due to the fact they did Coach Trip together and yet because of a masterful bluff from Leshurr she managed to convince both Pete and Sam that Big Narstie was real during their face to face blocking.
6. Kaye Adams & Nadia Sawalha as Gemma Collins
The ineptitude of this deception can only be summed up in the fact it took them 3 days to remember the fact Denise van Outen was the narrator of TOWIE and in that time they had managed to give her a nickname Gemma Collins never used, didn’t know they last saw each other in Spain FOR A CHRISTENING and misspelled the name of prominent TOWIE member Amy Childs. From there it was pretty much game over as Denise “Dens” van Outen was on the war path and ambushed “Gemma” with her concerns in the midst of a Ladies’ Coffee Morning Chat in an interrogation the likes of which the Line of Duty writers wish they could script!
Knowing the jig was pretty much up, Nadia truly spiralled out and spent the remaining day and a half cackling like she was planning to take over the world while trying to build the rockiest alliance with Fake Big Narstie and Fake Kim Woodburn
You know the cartoon “Pinky and the Brain”? Nadia was like both Pinky and Brain in the same body.
While Nadia might have turned into a comically bad super villain, everyone needs their straight man and Kaye Adams filled that role perfectly in that Nadia forced her to take part in the more humiliating aspects of activities and didn’t listen to a single one of her concerns and getting mildly furious whenever Nadia’s rushed mistakes came to bite them in the arse – which was frequent and often.
5. Melvin ODoom & Rickie Haywood-Williams as Will.I.Am
The fact this Will.I.Am impersonation convinced anyone for even a fraction of a second is honestly baffling for me – even more so is the fact they won the rap battle against Big Narstie by producing 3 raps that sounded nothing like anything Will.I.Am would do!
They were also very aware that they were on borrowed time and constantly at risk of a blocking if not for the blatant catfishing then the likelihood of someone blocking them so they could come and potentially visit Will.I.Am. This did mean that Melvin dressed up for the occasion every time
Meanwhile Rickie was cleaning the kitchenette.
Their biggest error in the whole thing was following SAFFRON.gate where they outed “Big Narstie’s” private chat messages to the group which is the most delightfully un-Will-I.Am thing to do and it’s no wonder they ended up at the bottom of the ratings board in the final episode.
4. Baga Chipz as Kim Woodburn
This was a fun test to see how long a drag queen could live in drag for – as it turns out Baga’s limit is 1 and a half days as the commitment to drag began and stopped with merely a wig
It was fascinating to watch Baga Chipz method act her way through the Kim Woodburn schtick – I genuinely think she’d have been more convincing in person than via the Circle Chat.
The whole thing came crashing around Baga Chipz’s ears the moment she suggested that Denise clean her stainless steel counter top with dish washing liquid and completely negated vinegar – a Kim Woodburn staple – as a cleaning product.
3. Lady Leshurr as Big Narstie
Lady Leshurr was hands down my favourite celebrity in The Circle – she is an absolute gem of a TV personality who has more charisma and charm in her thumb than almost everyone else and provided us with singlehandedly one of the best moments of TV with her spectacular wipe out
Her game on The Circle was a little hit or miss though – the miss being the time she kept everyone up for several hours because she was convinced that Saffron was a catfish due to some logic that she didn’t seem to realise pointed the arrow straight at her as a catfish.
She definitely took the most risks and didn’t back down from a potential call out and played the most daring bluff anyone played as when asked about Big Narstie’s time on Coach Trip, which she had no knowledge of and yet instead of diverting she took a gamble on who he had been partnered with and what he had done, which ultimately paid off.
There were of course 101 slip ups such as telling Fake Will.I.Am that Narstie speaks Patois, mixing up Prue Leith and Noel Fielding and not knowing that Big Narstie is terrified of fish and then seemingly trying to convince everyone he had since been to therapy for the phobia. Yet despite these slip ups she won the whole damn show because in the last vote everyone decided to vote tactically because they thought nobody else would.
2. Pete Wicks & Sam Thompson as Rachel Riley
You would have thought this would go up in smoke within a matter of seconds and it frequently almost did as Pete and Sam on more than a few occasions nearly sent a message talking about themselves in the plural. It’s a wonder they managed to keep it up seeing as there are so many ways you could catch Rachel out and test her intelligence but I suppose that is asking a lot of from the likes of Charlotte Crosby and Duncan James.
The swiftness in which these two managed to ingratiate themselves with Saffron and have her refer to them as “like my mum” was delightfully sinister. Meanwhile behind the friendly, mumsy persona of Rachel Riley was Peter Wicks on the verge of starting enough celebrity feuds to keep OK magazine well stocked for the next decade.
They could easily have taken the whole competition for themselves had they not played the final episode with such outright war tactics and seemingly completely letting the Rachel Riley-ness momentarily slip.
1. Denise van Outen as Denise van Outen
Denise did have the advantage going into this in that she knew just about every single member of the cast – fake or otherwise – because she herself is a reality TV staple. Quite how she dodged being voted as “the most likely to attend the opening of an envelope” is beyond me.
Denise’s foray into the PI industry started the moment she got a whiff of “Gemma’s” fishiness and turned the gentle Ladies’ Coffee Morning chat into a daylight assassination of Gemma. From there she was like a social media bloodhound as she just about scored a 100% catch rate on the catfish as she clocked Baga’s lack of cleaning knowledge, Rachel Riley’s dodgy feminist conspiracy and even played a blinder of a guess that Melvin and Rickie were playing as Big Narstie – so close!
But before grilling her Circlemates she spent her time weirdly flirting with Fake Peter Andre and Fake Big Narstie while not even for a moment entertaining the idea that it wasn’t him and in fact was Lady Leshurr cringing her little heart out on the other end of the chat
Just put Denise into The Circle every year to be honest.