Celebrity Big Brother Made A Mistake When They Cast Dan Osborne

Dan Osborne was fired from TOWIE after he was heard on tape threatening to hospitalise his ex. So why are Channel 5 bosses giving him a platform to redeem himself on Celebrity Big Brother?

Dan Osborne

by Sophie Wilkinson |
Updated on

While the most interesting story of this year’s Celebrity Big Brother (CBB) - Stormy Daniels’ refusal to go on the show - happens outside of CBB, another one is so obvious viewers can barely see it.

That’s the story that its third favourite to win and most telegenic, Love Island-adjacent guy, ex-TOWIE star Dan Osborne, is a nasty piece of work, who can be heard on tape threatening to hospitalise his ex.

CBB’s current theme is ‘eye of the storm’, a nod to both Daniels and the guiding principle of its casting, because each housemate has been embroiled in a scandal.

One of Osborne’s scandals revolves around the fact that, in 2015, two leaked tapes appeared to show him saying the following to Megan Tomlin, the mother of his eldest son, who he’d left for now-wife Jacqueline Jossa when Tomlin was four months pregnant. Jossa was pregnant with their first child at the time of the recording:

‘That’s not a threat, that’s a promise’

‘It won’t be funny when you’re in hospital’

‘If another man’s penis goes inside you, I will stick a knife up your c***’

'You’re making [Teddy, their son, who is audible in the recording] cry because you’re a fucking slut.’

‘Shut your fucking mouth you fucking slut,’ after which a loud crash can be heard, and Megan begins crying.

CBB referenced this event in Osborne’s VT to viewers ahead of his entrance, and in the video, which culminates in him grinning and insisting he’ll win CBB, he admits: "Most people say things when they’re angry that they never mean. I said something that I never ever meant, I’m embarrassed by it."

He’s not the only one embarrassed, though. In a 2015 open letter, Tomlin writes about why she didn’t press charges against Osborne at the time, despite his “controlling and abusive” behaviour which “did become physical”. She wrote in OK! “I was in love with Daniel and I was embarrassed to speak out.

“I didn’t want to press charges, but I wanted the security of knowing Daniel’s behaviour was on record. Afterwards I felt so guilty that I’d gone against him.”

This guilt is why it takes victims multiple attempts to leave an abusive partner. This guilt is what abusers foster in their victims so they can get away with their crimes.

Making threats to kill of this sort is a crime punishable with 12 weeks’ custody. Yet, Osborne was never charged.

That’s bad enough. However even if Osborne had gone to trial and served his time, the court of public opinion (which has access to the tapes) is still firmly in his favour. In the time since TOWIE dropped him, Instagram and Dream Boys - the all-male strip troupe - provided Osborne the space and income to build his celebrity. The man can’t be separated from his art, because he is, like most influencers, a brand in himself. In the past three years, unchecked by any higher authority he’s grown a dedicated following of close to a million followers, making ‘Dan Osborne’ a big enough name for the CBB billing.

Reality TV has already, to different degrees for certain high-profile figures like Ed Balls, Caroline Flack and Katie Price, transformed public opinion of them. And it’s pretty clear Osborne agreed to CBB to launder his soul, and upgrade him into a household name. Once firmly established to a huge audience as the good guy he purports to be, he’ll be ready for more lucrative TV work, and gain bigger Instagram clout so he can charge more to, say, post a photo of him outside a kebab shop. Should this easy redemption really be this available?

In fairness, Osborne apologised at the time, in that 'sorry if you’re upset way’, releasing a statement beginning: ‘I am truly sorry to anyone who was offended by what they heard’ adding he was ‘ashamed and embarrassed that I allowed myself to reach such a dark place’. And perhaps CBB is an opportunity, away from the friendly filters and the children he so cynically weaponises in his bid to frame himself as all-round cute-dad-man, for the public to see Osborne for all his flaws. But as Stormy Daniels has put it, and our hunches go, CBB drafts its cast to play certain roles, and Osborne isn’t there to be the bad guy.

That role goes to Hardeep Kohli Singh, who was suspended from the One Show in 2005 after a complaint of inappropriate behaviour from a female colleague. He’s favourite to leave CBB first but has done, from what the public can see, less harm to a woman. The difference is, Singh is a 49-year-old Sikh man with tinted spectacles and three-piece suits, while Osborne looks like a beige smiley potato with an Excel spreadsheet for an abdomen. Somehow, society can’t compute that such a pretty, white man could be so ugly - even though good looks are part of the armoury abusers will deploy to keep their victims by their side.

Plus, Osborne’s storyline, the second part of his scandal, involves that precious commodity: sex. He’s currently in a will-they-won’t-they storyline with fellow housemate ex-Love Island star Gabby Allen, who he is rumoured to have previously cheated with while his current wife, ex-Eastenders actress Jossa, was seven months pregnant with their second child. On top of this, he’s entered the CBB house just seven weeks after Jossa gave birth to his youngest child.

Cheating isn’t a gender-specific crime, but even if Osborne never did cheat, and has broken up with Jossa, it’s all a pretty terrible look. Can we really trust that he has abandoned the misogyny which led to his threats to kill the mother of his child for having the sexual autonomy he’d long helped himself to? If it was a ‘dark place’ where Osborne did those horrible things, how can we be sure he’s left it? That he’s invited on because of this scandal is testament to how much Channel 5 appear to care right now.

Grazia asked Solace Women’s Aid, a charity which supports survivors of domestic violence, what they thought, and they gave us this statement: “We are disappointed that Celebrity Big Brother have taken this stance particularly when TOWIE removed (Dan Osborne) from the show. ITV took a strong position that domestic violence is never acceptable and you have to make a stand against it, otherwise this kind of behaviour is normalised and women’s lives are at stake.

“A threat to kill will have a devastating impact, it’s frightening and never okay, and the trauma will stay with the victim for years after.

"We look to channels like 5 to move on from this decision and become amazing and strong advocates for women. We invite them to come and meet some of the women and children affected by domestic violence and come behind the scenes at Solace to gain insight into women’s lived experience of abuse.”

It’s crystal clear how CBB will be used by Dan Osborne to redeem himself, and Channel 5 bosses will thrive off of the drama he will provide to a show so often lacking in the juicy young sexuality that its biggest rival, Love Island, brims with. He’ll also have an opportunity to justify and explain his actions, or to frame them as just a hiccup, rather than another piece of the slice of misogyny pie he’s been baking and serving up to the women around him for years. What’s hazier, though, is how much duty of care has been given to his ex, Tomlin, the real victim of the scandal set to make Osborne a star again.

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