Outspoken and controversial British far-right commentator Katie Hopkins skyrocketed from relative obscurity to public enemy No.1 in Australia in just a few days.
It seemed that no sooner had the Australian public learned who Hopkins was than the government announced she would be deported and denied her a stint on Channel Seven reality show Big Brother VIP.
Hopkins, a sacked columnist from south-west England and a vocal Donald Trump supporter, was brought to Australia by Seven and arrived on July 16 for the standard two-week stint in hotel quarantine.
But unlike most of her fellow travellers, she almost immediately began criticising – and then disobeying – safety protocols from the 28th floor of her Sydney CBD apartment.
Married twice, the convent school-educated Hopkins, 46, revealed she wouldn’t wear a mask so she could “scare a staff member”, took her rubbish outside her room naked, and was ready to “streak down the corridor covered in oil”.
“Lockdown is, and remains, the greatest hoax in human history,” the mother of three posted in an Instagram video.
In the 29-minute rant, which can still be viewed on her Katie Hopkins Official YouTube channel, she teased Australian authorities by begging for more rules, just so she could get “naughtier” and “louder”.
Well, it worked. The rule book was thrown at her. The federal government cancelled her visa and her one-way ticket was booked to go home to the UK.
“It is despicable that anyone would behave in such a way that puts our health officials and community at risk,” Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said in a statement on Monday morning.
Britain’s most hated woman
Hopkins had already appeared in the UK’s Celebrity Big Brother in 2015 for a reported $745,000, where she was booed by crowds when she entered the house and was immediately labelled “Britain’s most hated woman”.
She told presenter Emma Willis that she was “not a panto villain”, despite previously describing herself as “a witch with a heart of stone”.
“I don’t like fat people, I’m not a big fan of ginger people, I think that unemployed people are lazy,” she announced in the video introducing her arrival to the show, it was reported at the time.
In the house for 31 days, Hopkins was runner-up behind Katie Price (aka Jordan) and the show attracted a viewing audience of 17 million people.
‘Villain fodder’ for Australia
So what was the villain role she would have played for Channel Seven? One, we presume, where she lets rip on anything, anyone, anytime.
By all accounts, including her own, this agent provocateur isn’t putting it on when she blasts out her litany of racist slurs on whatever social media or print platform is still open to her.
She has previously described migrants crossing the Mediterranean as cockroaches in a 2015 opinion piece for The Sun newspaper and labelled Islam repugnant.
She was sacked from radio station LBC in 2017 after she tweeted that Britain needed a “final solution” after the Manchester bombing.
While the Seven network wouldn’t confirm on July 18 whether she had ever been part of the show, in a statement a spokesperson said the “Seven Network and Endemol Shine Australia confirm that Katie Hopkins is not part of Big Brother VIP.
“Seven and Endemol Shine strongly condemn her irresponsible and reckless comments in hotel quarantine.”
According to New York magazine, a reality TV villain has to be someone who isn’t on the show “to make friends”, be nice or co-operate.
“For all roles, casting directors look for people who “pop” on camera and speak their minds with little self-consciousness, because that makes for engaging conflict on camera,” James Callenberger wrote on entertainment site Vulture.
“But for villains, you need two extra ingredients: Delusions of grandeur and susceptibility to producers’ persuasion.”
Whether her controversial views would ever be edited into, or part of, the Australian format is now academic.
The show must go on
Big Brother VIP will be only the second time a celebrity version of the reality show has aired in 20 years in Australia, after first hitting our screens back in August 2002.
Television and radio presenter Dylan Lewis won that year with Water Rats actor Jay Laga’aia as runner-up.
Seven told TND on Monday that production was due to start soon on Big Brother VIP and the show will air later this year.
Although no official cast list has emerged, reality TV star and California governor candidate Caitlyn Jenner flew into Sydney last week to prepare for the show.
Radio hosts Fitzy & Wippa revealed on NOVA radio that Neil Patrick Harris from How I Met Your Mother is a likely starter, as is Married at First Sight villain Jessika Power.
Endemol Shine Australia chief executive Peter Newman told News Corp back in March: “We now welcome a host of celebrities to a brand-new house, seal them off from society and see who can survive the twists, turns and surprises that Big Brother has waiting inside.
“Who will win? Australia will decide.”
Australia has already decided on one would-be contestant by evicting Hopkins early.