Sarah Harding crowned Celebrity Big Brother winner, amid controversy and boos

Sarah Harding, winner of Celebrity Big Brother 2017 - PA
Sarah Harding, winner of Celebrity Big Brother 2017 - PA

Amid cheers, boos, confetti (and more boos) ex-Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding has been crowned winner of Celebrity Big Brother. She pipped X Factor graduate Amelia Lily in a nail-biting final, with Made in Chelsea’s Sam Thompson thrilled to place third. 

Harding had been emotional through the broadcast, which brought to a close a 25-day stint inside the Celebrity Big Brother house, and broke down as she was named the victor. 

Sarah Harding reacts to winning Celebrity Big Brother - Credit: Ian West/PA
Sarah Harding reacts to winning Celebrity Big Brother Credit: Ian West/PA

"I just want people to see the real Sarah," she sobbed. "It feels like we’ve been in there six months."

But her triumph was to prove immediately divisive. Her romance with fellow contestant Chad Johnson has been a talking point – largely because she was already in a relationship (though she insisted this was short-term and not serious). However, other participants had also complained through the series that Harding was unpredictable and confrontational – with Lily dubbing her "Cider Sarah". And she was one of Harding’s friends. 

Was this the most controversial winner yet? 

Despite being chosen by public vote, the Girls Aloud warbler was a contentious figure among viewers – with many suspecting her romance with Chad, star of America’s The Bachelor, was played up for the cameras. So it wasn't surprising that jeers erupted on set as it was announced she had clenched the CBB tinsel crown ahead of likeable Amelia Lily.

Sarah Harding with Chad Johnson - Credit: Ian West/PA
Sarah Harding with Chad Johnson Credit: Ian West/PA

The internet didn't seem much impressed either. "I don't usually approve of booing," went one Tweet, "I'm very happy to make an exception this time."

Why are celebrities obsessed  with winning?

Brit Awards, Oscars, Nobel Prizes…all paled compared to the honour up for grabs tonight. Winning CBB would be a "bonkers miracle" said Most Haunted medium Derek Acorah. Chad believed it would allow him to "finally start living his life".

Derek Acorah leaves the house - Credit: Getty
Derek Acorah leaves the house Credit: Getty

Harding described it as a dream come through and froze with elation as she was unveiled as winner – to the point where fellow contestant Shaun Williamson was required to jump out and support her with matey hug. In Harding’s case, especially, the emotion appeared 100 per cent genuine – but why?

Could Big Brother itself face ejection? 

With ratings for the latest series dipping to an all time low of two million (down from a record six million), the franchise is clearly in a slump. Its prospects can’t have been helped by Channel 5 controller Ben Frow’s statement earlier in the week that he would rather go it alone than rely on shows acquired from rivals (as CBB was from Channel 4 in 2010). "I would be much happier with a channel that did not have Big Brother on it," he said – ominous no matter how you spin it. 

Runner-up Amelia Lily - Credit: Getty
Runner-up Amelia Lily Credit: Getty

Can the audience please make up its mind? 

There was a foreshadowing of the reception Sarah would receive as tattoo celeb Jemma Lucy was booed making her way down the exit ramp. But when she entered the adjacent debriefing room for her sit-down with presenter Emma Willis jeers turned to cheers. Big Brother is maddeningly unpredictable  at the best of times circumstances. Whatever about the contestants, a bit of consistency on the part of the studio audience would be appreciated. 

Jemma Lucy - Credit: Ian West/PA
Jemma Lucy Credit: Ian West/PA

After 25 days on CBB Chad still isn't sure what Celebrity Big Brother is.

"I had no clue what I was going into," admitted the American reality star. The Bachelor veteran had watched a 30 second clip of Celebrity Big Brother on YouTube prior to flying to the UK but this deep background research had failed to yield the anticipated insights. "Were people acting? There were so many arguments," he recalled of his early days in the house. A month later he was still visibly baffled as to what he’d signed up for.  

Did Derek Acorah predict his fourth place finish?   

The matey mind-reader was a departure from the usual tattoos and tans. He was also the first CBB contestant to be accompanied into the house by an invisible spirit guide (correct us if we are wrong). In his "exit interview" with Willis he described the experience as "crazy", "bonkers" and "like a bad holiday" – while insisting that he'd enjoyed (almost) every moment. 

A big mouth alone won't win Celebrity Big Brother

"I could have a rucksack full of banter – but it just won't happen," said third place Sam of his chances of victory. You needed to be stroppy, he reckoned, to appeal to the viewers whose votes decided the winner.

Sam Thompson with host Emma Willis - Credit: ian West/PA
Sam Thompson with host Emma Willis Credit: ian West/PA

He went on to reveal an unexpected sensitive side as he explained that he’d struggled following the elimination of best pal Jordan Davies. "Who’s going to watch your back when you take a poo?" he said – a glimpse into the dark side of reality TV we could had done without. 

Didn't all the ejected contestants look pleased to be free?

Shaun Williams leaving the house - Credit:  Karwai Tang/Wireimage
Shaun Williams leaving the house Credit: Karwai Tang/Wireimage

Shaun Williamson was widely deemed to have been unlucky to miss the final. But he didn't seem too crushed to find himself chatting in the studio to Emma Willis rather than chewing finger-nails in the house. He also had some interesting insights regarding the competitive aspect of the show.

The smartest tactic, he reckoned, was to become involved in a relationship or establish yourself as a strong personality unafraid of conflict. As chance would have it, Sarah ticked both boxes. Neither a snogger nor a trouble stirrer, Williamson, by contrast, was probably doomed to a premature exit. 


Celebrity Big Brother 2017 contestants
Celebrity Big Brother 2017 contestants