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Big Brother: Tourette's contestant gossip

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Crippled Monkey | 10:35 UK time, Thursday, 18 May 2006

With under 10 hours to go, speculation is mounting as to whether the new series of Big Brother will feature a disabled contestant.

Internet discussion forums such as the one at Digital Spy have been kicking around the idea for months that a wheelchair user could well be making it onto the seventh series of the reality game show, which starts tonight.

Then, as we reported earlier this week, 'Perfect' Peter Stephenson of Brighton glam rock band Daddy Fantastic might well be one of the contestants. Pete has Tourette's Syndrome. He also has a pole-dancing girlfriend - but we're focusing in on the disability part of him just at this moment, even though he's so much more than a disability-on-a-stick (that's our little half-hearted disclaimer for people who write in and say we "concentrate too much on people's disabilities". Well, duh, we're a disability website!)

Described by one website as Adam Ant-like with his flamboyant cross-dressing style, The Sun and others seem to be reporting his inclusion in the house as a dead cert ... as well as commenting on the size of his manhood and how much he enjoys sex. But we expect that.

Tourette's is a broad church. Pete, the unconfirmed BB7 contestant, is reported to have Coprolalia. That's the strain where tics involve uncontrollable swearing - the word derives from the Greek meaning 'dung breath'. Less than 20% of people with Tourette's have this, yet it remains the most well-known and talked about aspect of the impairment.

Alison Owens, Tourette Syndrome Association helpline operator and mother of children with the disorder, has previously refused to be part of a fly-on-the-wall TV programme. She has some anxieties about Pete's portrayal and how he'll deal with the other housemates:

"I don't know how he'll cope. If he isn't the first to be voted out then he'll probably be kept in by viewers for the entertainment value. He may well get worked up and walk out anyway.

"I say good for him for putting himself forward, and if he's chosen then brilliant. I just hope he gets the same amount of respect in the coverage that would be given to people with Down's Syndrome, epilepsy or diabetes."

Tune in at 9.00pm tonight on Channel 4 to see if Big Brother really has chosen a disabled housemate.

And if Pete does appear ... come back to the Ouch blog and messageboard to tell us what you think.. The blog is open 24/7, whereas our messageboard closes at midnight.


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