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6 January 2017updated 02 Aug 2021 10:23am

Hate Celebrity Big Brother? Well, you should be watching anyway – just for Rylan

In short, Rylan is the most talented person to ever come through The X Factor.

By Anna Leszkiewicz

The capitalist mechanics of the celebrity industry grind on as Celebrity Big Brother creaks into 2017 for another series (its 19th). While its distinct brand of manufactured outrage leaves many scrambling for the remote (the Radio Times’s Sarah Carson suggests a more fun evening might be spent “drinking colonoscopy solution”), it’s also inescapable, possessing as it does several spin off shows per night, constant live updates, and a direct line to every tabloid in Britain.

Yes, Big Brother is awful, a relic from another generation of reality TV, no longer culturally relevant in any meaningful way. Yes, we should hope that it will die out within the next few series. Yes, you like thinking you’re too smart for it, and, yes, the 209th celebrity tantrum just doesn’t have the same pull as the 37th. But Celebrity Big Brother does have one thing going for it – one thing so irresistibly charming, so funny, so good-natured you’d be lying if you pretended you don’t already know where I’m going with this. That one thing is Rylan Clark-Neal.

Rylan currently hosts Celebrity Big Brother’s Bit on the Side, known affectionately as BOTS, the late-night Big Brother discussion show. He brings on celebrity guests, a recurring studio audience of normal folk, performers and “experts” in psychology and body language. He runs regular features and short pre-recorded skits. By all rights, it shouldn’t be good. And yet, thanks to Rylan, it is reliably funny telly.

Here are some things you can expect to see on BOTS. A talk show where Rylan parodies his own This Morning persona. A fake courtroom where Rylan forces friends of the contestants to become witnesses for their defence. Frequent irrelevant, joyful semi-nudity. The launch show of the new series began with Rylan sweeping down the street outside the studio, (while a gospel choir sang “Follow Him”), throwing off his enormous fur coat into the face of X Factor’s Honey G. And where else would you get captioning like this?

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It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Rylan manages to turn something unfunny and unprofessional like running from a spider live on TV into genuine lols. (“WHY IS IT THAT COLOUR?!”)

And, of course, we have BOTS to thank for this iconic moment, which transitions from standard funny gaff to actual delight thanks to Rylan’s gleeful, but still sympathetic, response:

All of the above should be tedious and excruciating. But Rylan Clark-Neal’s presenting powers are truly transcendental, bringing sincerity and humour to Big Brother that hasn’t been seen since Davina left. He has the spikiness of Russell Brand with none of the offence.  

In short, Rylan is the most talented person to ever come through The X Factor (my sincerest apologies to Harry Styles), who deserves even more presenting gigs than he’s already bagged. Long may his sculpted eyebrows reign.