Big Brother is returning to our screens later this year, and although the presenters and broadcaster have changed, one iconic element of the show will remain the show – the narrator.
We’re ecstatic that Marcus Bentley will be back to inform us of the day, time, and house on-goings in his familiar Geordie accent.
Ahead of the reboot, Marcus chatted to Metro.co.uk to discuss the show’s past, present, and future.
The 55-year-old has always had a unique perspective of the popular programme as he was often the first person to view the episode outside of the production staff.
He recalled the team monitoring his reaction to gauge how audiences may also react to the unaired footage.
‘I felt comfortable to be completely honest about my thoughts. Sometimes I’d let them know if something shouldn’t go on TV but that was very rare. They may push back and explain why it’s there, and sometimes they’d take my advice,’ he informed us.
One standout moment was the now-iconic ‘David’s dead’ moment from Celebrity Big Brother 2016.
Angie Bowie was informed by Big Brother that her former husband David Bowie had died. She confided in Tiffany Pollard, who thought she meant their housemate David Gest. The misunderstanding led to chaos.
Marcus recalled seeing the video for the first time, and his original confusion.
‘I initially thought it was fake. My jaw was on the floor. It is one of the most unbelievable bits of reality TV,’ Marcus stated.
‘I think it’s the greatest piece of reality.’ We don’t disagree. ‘It’s ridiculous and gob-smacking.’
Although, even Marcus couldn’t have predicted the life the episode would go on to have. The clip has been viewed over four million times on the official YouTube page and regularly does the rounds on social media.
While the incident is his greatest piece of reality TV, his favourite housemate is Nikki Grahame who tragically died in 2021.
‘She was gorgeous, fun, hilarious and a complete diva. That’s who she was,’ he began.
‘She was outrageously funny and selfish. She was a human, and God love her – she had battles with anorexia and she’s one of the only people that made me cry watching her,’ he admitted.
The moment that left him in tears came during Ultimate Big Brother in 2010 when she was opening up to Vanessa Feltz about her struggles with anorexia.
‘This hilarious, outrageous lady who made us all laugh and wince, had this battle with an illness. We know now it eventually killed her.’
Marcus believes the beauty of the show is finding these unique characters, who the nation takes into their hearts.
We saw this happen with the late Jade Goody, who became a celebrity following her appearance on the show in 2002.
While she created many memorable moments in the Big Brother house, there is some footage that was never released.
‘There was a bit of hanky panky. Jade and PJ [Ellis] got it together supposedly. Apparently, there was a recording of that as obviously they are filming all the time.
‘The film was put in a safe because at the time it was a little bit explicit. I never saw it. I have heard from the horse’s mouth that they put that tape where nobody could have it and eventually, they destroyed it.
‘They may be adults but they are young adults. You can’t just roast them for a few extra views. They have to have a duty of care.’
The duty of care is something Marcus claims the show has always been ‘impeccable’ at upholding. It will likely have an increased spotlight on it in 2023 as reality TV becomes more regulated.
Although we may have witnessed housemates get drunk which could mean they act in a different way than normal, Marcus insists that producers always knew exactly how many units they’d each consumed and it was less than you’d think.
‘They’d have a couple of glasses of wine, and be off their faces,’ he insisted.
Marcus had such a fun time on the show that when it came to the reboot the decision was easy.
‘There was no hesitation. Everything in my career has come from Big Brother from hosting events to adverts.
‘I love Big Brother, so the thought of anyone else doing the narration made me sad,’ Marcus honestly admitted.
‘It’s going to be bigger and better than ever before so I would have been so gutted. I would have done anything to be part of it.
‘I would have even walked miles and miles to a studio, but luckily I’ll actually be recording at home. On live shows, I’ll go to the studio though.’
The show has been off-air for five years, and Marcus thinks that’s a positive thing.
‘It needed a little rest, but I always knew it would come back. It’s refreshing to be so wanted.
‘The show is such a big part of British culture, and especially celebrity culture. It’s been the template for other reality shows, but there’s nothing like Big Brother.
‘I can’t wait to meet the next generation of characters, and see what are the future big moments. I regularly see the clips circulating on social media. We’ll be on TikTok now too which wasn’t around last time.’
Marcus is a particular fan of the show’s diversity, and normal people getting a chance to shine.
‘The show is all about inclusion too which is so important,’ he added.
‘Nadia Almada won in 2004. She was a trans woman, so to me and the viewers, a woman. That was that. We’re all different, and we’re all beautiful. Viewers get to fall in love with a wonderful rainbow of people.’
Marcus is looking forward to getting back into the grind of the Big Brother schedule, where his days usually begin at 1pm. We’re jealous of his lie-ins!
‘I’ll get given a script from the producers and we’d go over it briefly but after so many years I really knew what I was doing so that didn’t take long.
‘We’ll make any necessary amendments if I think something should be said in a slightly different way.
‘It was more formulaic than people may realise. I’ll always go from left to right while listing housemates, and inform you where everybody is in the house in each address.
‘They’ll go away and fit it to the visuals, and I’ll make any adjustments if necessary.’
It doesn’t always go smoothly though. In fact, Marcus revealed that things would sometimes be a little hairy.
‘On occasion, we’d be making changes while it’s airing if there were legal issues. The producers would be trying to get something in while the lawyers were pushing back.
‘There have been times when the audience is watching part one, and we’re still working on part three.
‘There’s a lot of hard work and people working manically behind the scenes.’
Marcus also gave some insight on what might happen in the series due to screen later this year.
‘I think the new series will be around six weeks so a little bit shorter than the usual length, but they’ll still have to come up with a lot of tasks and twists.’
The reality show legend has got full faith in new hosts AJ Odudu and Will Best, who will be taking the helm. He is particularly excited due to something big he has in common with AJ.
‘She’s got an amazing northern accent!’
He continued to shower her with compliments calling her ‘fabulous, beautiful and warm.’
‘I’ve heard her screen test with Will was incredible. They’ve got big shoes to fill. People may be like, “Where’s Emma [Willis]? Where’s Brian [Dowling]? Where’s Rylan [Clark]?” but this is a new era. It’s different but incredible.’
He’s also hopeful we’ll see the return of Big Brother’s celebrity counterpart.
‘Oh yes,’ he enthusiastically responded when asked if he saw it coming back.
‘I love Celebrity Big Brother. I just think it got better and better. It was unbelievable.’
Marcus’ journey on the show began when the production company requested ‘regional accents.’ He was an aspiring actor but decided to give voiceover work a go as he was desperately needing a little bit more money.
‘I left drama school in 1992 and did a few commercials, and even had a small role in a film with Elizabeth Hurley called Mad Dogs and Englishmen. It was a bit of a flop,’ he admitted.
‘I was getting along fine and then suddenly, I was really struggling. It’s a precarious profession.
‘I contacted some agents, and accidentally got in touch with voiceover agents. Back then, you’d post your photograph and CV to them.
‘I got a call pretty quickly offering me a job impersonating Paul Gascoigne for a Science Museum of London advert. I thought, “Why not?” then that began a series of little jobs before Big Brother began casting ahead of its 2000 series.
Marcus later discovered that they selected him for the role of his career partly because they enjoyed the way he pronounced ‘chickens.’
‘I am grateful for chickens,’ he jokes.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who loves the franchise as much as Marcus who recalls Big Brother moments and their corresponding series like he’s on Mastermind and it’s his specialist subject.
‘Brian Belo wetting himself in a caravan in Big Brother eight was hilarious,’ he told us. ‘Verne Troyer on Celebrity Big Brother 6 crashing his scooter sticks out to me,’ he later added.
His joy for the show is infectious, and Marcus informed us his favourite thing is ‘just watching strangers start to care for each other.’
We can’t wait for that either… and maybe a little drama too!
Big Brother will air on ITV later this year
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