Hundreds of Midlanders queued for hours on a cold drizzly Saturday, all hoping to impress the producers of the UK's biggest reality TV show. By 9am, the queue at Millennium Point for the Birmingham 'auditions' for Big Brother was round the block.
This TV show is hardly new - does anyone still watch it? And why do people still aspire to be on it?! I wrapped up warm and went along to find out.
I'd heard rumours of nudity, outrageous costumes and massive characters. Aside from a few oddballs, the majority of people were Ordinary Joes just doing something different with their Saturday.
Show me the money
The prize money attracts many people. The idea of £70,000 for nine weeks' 'work' does sound rather tasty but there's the small matter of having your every move caught on camera...
Andrew Martin from Acocks Green had come along on his own. "To be honest, I'm from a hard working family and I'm in it for the money."
|Mizz and Markie G|
Markie G from Lichfield wore a big rainbow flag and a T-shirt with sticky letters spelling out "The only gay in the village". So I think we can assume he's firmly out of the closet. "I love a challenge," he says. "I want to win the money - I'd go a big holiday with my mate Mizz".
Shortcut to fame
|Jemma - Mystical Blue|
The £70k means nothing to some auditionees who see past this to the potential earnings they could make as a presenter/actor/whatever. The overwhelming reason people wanted to be on the show? "I wanna be famous!" Have they forgotton how rapidly most housemates disappear into obscurity?
Jemma - aka Mystical Blue - admitted she just wants the fame. "I just want to get my name out there."
|Kirsty and Kim|
Kim and Kirsty from Wolverhampton arrived dressed as angels. Or was it fairies? I'm not sure. Kim wants to be famous and hopes to "pull lots of nice men and sell my story!" Kirsty is less hungry for fame - she's in it for the fun. "I like mischief - I love winding people up!"
Lesley Thompson (originally from South Yardley) fancies nine weeks of playing and being on the TV. "I won't let the other housemates get to sleep. If I won, I'd get a boob job!"
What would you do?
The production team take frequent walks down the line of eager candidates, hoping to spot that special something...
Mark Ashford thought that maybe getting nekkid would show off his talents. He'd arrived on his own and been egged into streaking by a few others in the crowd.
|Mark the streaker|
The security guards didn't see the funny side. ThinkTank is a family venue, so remember folks, no-one likes a [male] flasher.
"I want to be famous," he gushed afterwards. "I want to get my name - and body known!" Just in case his mission is unsuccessful, he's doing graphic design at university.
|Marcus and his third nipple|
Marcus, a Londoner living in Brum, showed me his "special something" - a perky little third nipple! "It's not so much a talent as a mutation..."
|Paul, Chantelle, Marcus and Marti|
Marcus teamed up with Chantelle, Paul and Marti in the queue.
Marti's special something was bursting over the top of her PVC nurse costume, Paul was strumming his banjo and Chantelle rattled her tamborine. "I do hair and nails too so I could make everyone look good in the morning," she said.
|Kayley and Sarah|
Kayley from Great Barr thinks her "natural double F" bosom makes her stand out. Her friend Sarah from Tipton says, "we'd both bring naughtiness to the show! It doesn't matter what colour you are - although there will always be stereotypes."
Crazy right now
Many people in the queue reckon they're different. Shrinking violets need not apply. But how do you prove you're totally ker-ay-zee? People found it hard to put their finger on *why* they're "different".
Pete from Wolverhampton wants to "spice things up" with his "massive personality!"
|Zoe with Louise and Amy|
Zoë from Solihull thinks reality TV features "lots of pretentious people". She promises to "get drunk and take my clothes off". And this is a lady who wants a career with the police!
|Elaine and Wayne|
Old school pals Elaine and Wayne from Cradley in the Black Country will admit they are a little older than the majority of auditionees.
"We think the show wants someone different".
|Marcia and Dave|
Marcia from Wythall (with her partner, Dave) was cryptic about why she's interesting - "I'm 30 years old - I've got a bit of a history. I also want to see behind the scenes..."
Energetic Tasha Douglas is so keen to get onto the show that she snuck back into the queue for a second go.
Escape to reality
If money or fame don't turn you on, how about nine weeks of lounging about?
Ruth Beatty wanted to get out of the rat race, although as a painter and decorator, she's hardly stuck in an office. " I like playing with people," she says with a cheeky glint in her eye.
|Darren and friends|
Darren from Bromsgrove is a fitness instructor but wants "something to do for nine weeks" and hopes to go on holiday if he wins the money.
Emma Woods and Stuart Inglis fancy escaping their jobs at Marks & Spencer.
|Emma and Stuart|
"We've got as good a chance of getting on the show as anyone else. The first series was definitely the most exciting."
Actor Mary-Anne Pepper has some spare time on her hands. She and friend Sharron stood out from the crowd in matching cream fur coats.
|Sharron and Mary-Anne|
"I've been travelling and found myself. I'm mellow... I want to do this now because I haven't settled down yet. If I don't get it I'll not be unhappy because I'll get to stay with my cat, Oscar Blue."
I escaped from the rain and near-zero temperatures to thaw myself out in a nearby café. I wondered - isn't it better to achieve fame by being really great at something? Come on Birmingham - find out what you're good at and work at it. It could be sport, business, the arts, anything. If you work hard enough, the media will be queuing up to talk to you.
Listen to clips
Click the links at the TOP RIGHT of this page.
Big Brother auditionees - listen to executive producer Sharon Powers and some of the auditionees talking about why they want to be on the show.
Black Big Brother - Loyd Williams talks to Robert Beckford on BBC WM and plays clips of auditionees.