New experiences, bad behaviour and career boosts - why Jews do reality TV shows


X Factor singer Katie Waissel is back on television screens as one of the contestants in Celebrity Big Brother.
The 30-year-old Jewish performer is vying with the likes of Sam Fox, Christopher Biggins, Grant Bovey and Frankie Grande to win the Channel 5 reality show, which started last week.

Ms Waissel, from Harefield in west London, had an eventful time in The X Factor in 2010. She made mistakes during her first audition and stumbled during a performance in front of the judges, and regularly faced the bottom two sing-off before being booted off during the eighth live show.

And while her dream of becoming a singing star was thwarted she has managed to establish a career as a TV personality.
Ms Waissel is not the only Jewish celebrity to experience the highs and lows of reality TV. Here’s our top seven

Vanessa Feltz
The broadcaster famously appeared to have a meltdown in the 2001 Celebrity Big Brother series shortly before viewers voted to evict her from the Big Brother house.

Mrs Feltz's unpredictable behaviour in front of the cameras started after she heard she was up for eviction.

Dressed in a silk leopardskin dressing gown and sunglasses, she took a piece of chalk meant for a shopping task, and began covering a table in words including "incarcerated, diffident, disparate, frustrated".

Following her stint on the show, the BBC Radio London presenter said producers had made her look like "Jack Nicholson out of The Shining".

But she described her behaviour as simply a way of amusing herself.

She said: "It was a blinding moment when I suddenly realised that there was no Big Brother. It was just a researcher. I suddenly thought I'm not going to give back the chalk we had for the shopping list.

"I thought I had suffered enough. I have lost my husband and there was sod all to do anyway except watch Anthea [Turner, a fellow contestant] wash up and clean.”

Stacey Solomon
In December 2010, X Factory singer Stacey Solomon, was crowned queen of the jungle in that year’s series of I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here.

The Jewish singer from Dagenham, who reached the final three in the 2009 series of The X Factor, said she never expected to win the reality show because she thought she was annoying.

But the former King Solomon High School pupil triumphed after she sailed through a live bush tucker trial, where she had beetles, spiders and cockroaches poured over her head.

She revealed after the series that she spent her first day back from the Australian jungle scrubbing her teeth after having to eat kangaroo private parts in one of tasks.

She said: “My breath couldn’t be any worse. I think I need acid to get rid of everything that’s been in my mouth.”

Esther Rantzen
Proof, if proof were needed, that reality TV can be emotional.

After Ms Rantzen appeared in the 2008 series of I’m a Celebrity, she confessed: “It made me feel very vulnerable and emotional because you are cut off from the distractions of everyday life and everything that you had been holding back came to the fore.”

Uri Geller
The Israeli spoon-bender was a I'm a Celebrity contestant in the first-ever series of the show in 2002.

The illusionist, who attempted to telepathically communicate with Michael Jackson while in the jungle, said his time on the show was “the experience of my life. I learnt a lot about myself.

“But life in there was hard, very hard...every day rice and beans, rice and beans. There were many social pressures … the arguments and you cannot wash properly.”

He added on his website that during the show, it became clear that “some people also have a problem with my accent and my manner. Israeli brashness is often mistaken for rudeness.”

Jewish celebrities have also taken to dancefloor in the hope they might cha cha cha into the limelight.

Natasha Kaplinsky
Perhaps the most reluctant of reality TV contestants.

The presenter won the first series of Strictly Come Dancing in 2004, but nine years after winning the BBC competition with dancer Brendan Cole, she revealed she never wanted to take part.

“I got completely forced and put into a corner at the BBC.

“I’d just started at BBC Breakfast and obviously the bosses at Strictly had a shopping list and a newsreader was on it and I was their easiest target.

“I honestly tried every single excuse not to do it, but I was cajoled and in the end I ran out of excuses. I was absolutely petrified.”

She said she “felt really concerned that Strictly Come Dancing was going to change how people would perceive me and to a certain degree it did.

"My job wasn’t about me, it was about the news, so to suddenly put myself in the middle of the dance floor on a Saturday night was insane – I was the most nervous I have ever been in my life.”

Rachel Stevens
Former S Club 7 singer came second on the sixth series of Strictly Come Dancing after surviving being in the bottom two twice during the 2008 edition of the show.

She fell at the last hurdle, losing out to Holby City actor Tom Chambers.

Speaking after the final, she said: “Everything was too much. I bawled - I was a blubbering wreck.”

But her family was supportive. “My mum said: ‘You're a winner to me, I can't tell you how well you've done, you've inspired me.’

“Alex (Bourne, her fiancé at the time) was the same. He took me away and gave me a hug.

“I was so elated to get through to the final two. But I did stand there just thinking, ‘Please say Rachel and Vincent!’

“To win would have been the icing on the cake. I'd have been so proud.”

Antony Costa
The singer, who had three number-one albums as a member of British boy band Blue, appeared on the fifth series of I'm a Celebrity, finishing sixth.

In an eventful spell on the show, he spoke out about receiving antisemitic abuse on Twitter andtook part in two trials including “Scaryoke”, which saw him sing as insects swarmed all over him.

After the series in 2005, which was won by Margaret Thatcher’s daughter Carol, he said: “The hardest things were the boredom and the hunger. I loved being with all those people.”

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