REGULAR followers of this weekly rant will know that one of the many aspects of life in the 21st century, guaranteed to give me a serious fit of the vapours, is “reality TV”, a type of “entertainment” for the masses for which the adjective “puerile” was surely intended.

Can anyone explain to me what is remotely interesting about a collection of desperate attention-seekers, incarcerated in a confined space, spouting complete cobblers and behaving like chimpanzees on acid? That seems to be the format for “Big Brother”, and my heart sank on Monday last when this publication revealed that auditions for the next series, thankfully its last, will take place in Manchester, today and tomorrow.

That undoubtedly means we will be shown television and newspaper shots of thousands of wannabes, bursting to prove to audition panels that they can be dafter or more outrageous than the rest. These days it is apparently one of the quickest routes to wealth and fame. That, plus the creepily effective influence of publicity Mogul Max Clifford. Beats the hell out of studying for a profession. Is it any wonder that vast numbers of our young people, who have the IQ of a cheeseburger, spend hours dreaming of making the quantum jump from nobody to somebody, via this execrable show?

I can’t believe that George Orwell had that scenario in mind when he penned the original script for his bleakly futuristic novel “1984”. He must be doing 1,000 revolutions a minute in his grave. However, there are encouraging signs that the TV “Big Brother” has outlived its usefulness. I have already mentioned that the next series, which shamelessly exploits legions of extroverts who would be safer in psychiatric wards, will be the last. And its spin-off, Celebrity Big Brother, currently poisoning Channel 4 schedules, also looks to have run its course, judging by the quality of the “celebrities”.

Of the 11 original inmates, I cheerfully confess that I recognised only the names of Vinnie Jones and Stephanie Beacham. Former footballer turned film actor Jones, who gained notoriety as the defensive hardman in Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang during the 1980s, was best known for his testicle-grabbing of Paul Gascoigne, then with Tottenham Hotspur. The look of anguish on Gazza’s face was famously captured for posterity in a sports photo. Stephanie Beacham has had a hugely successful television career in the UK and America. She and Jones must have had special reasons for exposing themselves to this kind of idiocy. It can’t be for the money, surely?

Of the rest, I know little or nowt about Basshunter, Dane Bowers, Lady Sovereign, Sisqo, Alex Reid, Nicola Tappenden, Stephen Baldwin, Ekaterina Ivanova and Heidi Fleiss, though I recognised the name of the latest inmate, glamorous grannie and four-times wed Ivana Trump, through her hideously rich ex-hubby Donald.

I thought Ekaterina Ivanova was a Russian or Eastern European gymnast, who had defected to the West after a string of perfect tens at the Olympics, but no, she is a former club hostess who slept with Rolling Stone wrinkly Ronnie Wood and overnight became a “celebrity”, possibly with the assistance of the ubiquitous Mr Clifford. God help us all.