Merryl has been a freelance celebrity PA for the last 15 years. Clients have included Julian Clary, Anne Robinson, Denise Van Outen and Jonathan Ross. In the past year she has expanded into training with PA Access All Areas. The next course is on 14th November in West London. See website for full details.
It’s been a month or so since Julian emerged blinking into the bright lights and fireworks of the Celebrity Big Brother Final as the winner, and I’ve had a chance to evaluate the experience from the PAs point of view.
It was a very strange three weeks, with highs and lows that belie the length of time he was in there. From the moment he went in I was obsessed, following twitter feeds from the production office to get updates between watching the nightly programme. I did have to draw the line at Big Brother’s Big Mouth though – even I found that a bit too much.
I had thought that I might have a bit of a quiet time once he was in, but not a bit of it. The production office was making requests from day 1 that I had to make executive decisions about. But I didn’t feel completely alone as one of the lovely things was that all the people who support Julian from day to day, his agent and assistant, partner, family etc really pulled together and were in close contact throughout, comparing notes and thoughts, so I would ask their opinions when I wasn’t sure what to do. That being said, some decisions were on the spot and I did feel a different type of pressure there.
I was watching like a hawk, and it was very hard to be able to see him but not speak to him. I could tell when he was feeling low or under pressure, and that is why when they asked if I could arrange for his dogs to visit as a prize for winning a task, I agreed as I thought that might be a good pick me up for him. It was quite an operation, they were being looked after in Kent, so it meant transporting them to London, bearing in mind that Valerie is a mature girl and has never liked being in the car much. I was also aware that they would be coming to a strange place and that the round trip was too long to do in one day. Basically I made more demands on their behalf than I would for Julian.
His partner and I went to meet them at the studio as they arrived with the house-sitter and we all had to sit around for a couple of hours while he completed the task. All this effort for a 15 minute visit in the diary room that was edited down to about 2 minutes on TV! However, he said afterwards that it was just the tonic he needed to get him through the next week and that he could see they were being well cared for, that made it all worthwhile and confirmed we’d made the right decision.
I wasn’t at all sure about Julian doing this but once he decided to go ahead, it was important to support him. Although he found it tough, his winning served as proof that he did the right thing. That being said, I’m not sure I would like to go through it all again.
Would your boss ever consider going into the Big Brother House? What would you do if they did?
Got a question for Merryl? Feel free to leave your questions and comments below.
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