Big Brother winner Brian Belo. An easy target if ever there was one. The man has a voracious appetite for self-deprecation and mortification and I knew that I could present pretty much anything to his people and would get a positive response. And why shouldn’t I. Like a prizefighter who’s taken a pasting and is looking to get his career back on track, the next fight needs to be an easy one. Something to build the confidence. As with Dyer and Winstone, I had got ahead of myself thinking Peter Andre was stagnating. I needed to ease my way back into the game, so after a few weeks off I targeted Brian.
He is the archetypal Z-lister, but his comic value is unrivalled. If you’re unfamiliar with Brian this example from The Weakest Link may illuminate the kind of character I was targeting. He was given the question ‘In prisoner of war camps during WW2, what ‘T’ was a kind of underground passage that was frequently dug as a means of escape?’ His answer? ‘Herbal tea’.
So after some brainstorming with a colleague of mine I sent this:
I am writing to enquire about the availability of Mr Brian Belo for a feature show I am hoping to put together. The title of the proposed show would be ‘Belo Par’ and would see Brian working with a former golf pro in an attempt to earn a European ProTour playing card. I’m currently in discussions with Nick Faldo’s agent, which would be amazing, but they are being tricky. I have two alternatives lined up in the form of Darren Clarke and a standby PGA Pro who has had moderate international success. I am trying to secure interest from all parties before I begin to pitch this properly to interested production companies. I believe Brian’s infectious nature and camera presence would make him ideal for a show that would have the public rooting for him.
Does Brian have any golfing experience? What is his schedule like for the rest of the year?
I would be grateful for any assistance you could give me with this.
After sending the email I watched a few more videos of Brian’s antics and slowly an awful feeling of shame descended on me. It was like bullying an intellectually disabled man-child. The online equivalent of telling a Down syndrome boy swear words and laughing as he shouts them out on the bus (sort of). Then a serendipitous twist of fate changed everything.
I came down the stairs for the eastbound Circle line train at Liverpool Street station and there he was on the platform, chatting to a young brunette, who looked like a glamour model of some sort. I couldn’t believe it. I positioned myself within ear shot and tuned into their conversation. What I heard surprised me. What had happened to the guy from Big Brother who didn’t know what the universe was? The man who froze when asked which came first, WW1 or WW2? The man who had done this child-like recitation of Shakespeare?
Here was this tall, upright, evidently erudite and eloquent young man, talking with sense and confidence. It was all a f**king ruse. He was playing a character. He had fooled us all. I later found out he had actually been the ‘brains’ behind the original concept for The Only Way is Essex. I concede, this is perhaps not a legitimate source of pride, but it demonstrated the man was switched on, savvy and ambitious. He was definitely not this dimwit he portrayed for the cameras. I passed happily down the platform, my guilt slipping away. This man, this Brian, was far more than I had given him credit for. Initially I sent my email to Brian’s old management and got no reply. Only recently I resent it to his new management, a more professional outfit who got back to me with this response:
Thanks – this sounds like great fun. No Brian doesn’t have any golf experience but I’m guessing that’s the point? By all means feel free to put Brian’s name to the project. He is relatively free the back end of this year- doing some post production but it’s fairly flexible.
Best of luck with getting the project off the ground.
I’ve decided i’m going to try and take this one as far as I can. If possible I will expose him for the smart, charming, polite and excellent conversationalist he is. The British public deserve to know who Brian Belo really is.