Ann Widdecombe becomes first to enter all-female Celebrity Big Brother house

Ann Widdecombe pictured in Lowestoft last month with Marina Theatre panto stars in a Christmas parad

Ann Widdecombe pictured in Lowestoft last month with Marina Theatre panto stars in a Christmas parade through the town centre. Picture: Nick Butcher. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Former MP Ann Widdecombe has become the first contestant to enter the Celebrity Big Brother house in 2018.

She leads a line-up of eight all-female housemates kicking off this year's series on Channel 5.

Known for her controversial opinions, the former minister for prisons has just finished a stint in the Lowestoft Marina Theatre's production of Aladdin in which she played the Empress of China.

Ahead of the four-week run, she said: 'For four solid weeks all you hear is them laughing and there's no better sound in the world. That's the main attraction.

'You don't need a great deal of subtlety and cleverness to make them laugh. It's just wonderful. We get families in the evening and you tend to get pensioners' outings and such like, so it's great fun, that's what it's about.'

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Marking 100 years since women won the right to vote in the UK, the show's first eight contestants this year include:

:: Amanda Barrie

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At 81 years old, the Benidorm star is the oldest celebrity to enter the house so far this year. Best known by some as Coronation Street's Alma, following her 20-year stint on the show, she sealed her acting career back in the 1960s with roles in two of the famous Carry On films: Carry On Cabby and Carry On Cleo.

:: Ann Widdecombe

The former Conservative MP, 70, has become a familiar face on screens, appearing in a number of shows, including last year's Sugar Free Farm. She demonstrated her artistic side when she took part in the 2010 series of Strictly Come Dancing and is a popular novelist, penning titles such as 2014 murder mystery, The Dancing Detective.

:: Ashley James

James is best known by television fans for her role in hit Channel 4 reality show, Made In Chelsea, but she has amassed thousands of social media followers with both her work as a DJ and her regular fashion updates.

:: India Willoughby

The newsreader made headlines in 2015 after undergoing a gender reassignment operation. Formerly known as Jonathan Willoughby, she has previously spoken about stepping down from her ITV job in 2010 and choosing to end a double life she had led for five years.

:: Jess Impiazzi

The MTV presenter is no stranger to reality television after rising to fame on both The Only Way Is Essex and, more recently, Ex On The Beach. She is also known by followers for running her own women's fitness brand and her work as a glamour model.

:: Maggie Oliver

The former detective constable was a key figure involved in the Rochdale abuse scandal. After encouraging young victims of sexual abuse to speak to police, she famously resigned from her position over the way authorities handled the case. She was recently portrayed by Lesley Sharp in the BBC dramatisation of the case, Three Girls.

:: Malika Haqq

A series regular on US reality show Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Haqq claims some small acting roles, including Penny in Sky High (2005), Shay in Definitely Divorcing (2016) and Video Ho £3 in an episode of Entourage. She will be entering the house just days after her close friend Khloe Kardashian announced her pregnancy.

:: Rachel Johnson

The only housemate to be previously confirmed by Channel 5, the 52-year-old's stint on the show follows her father Stanley's recent experience in last month's series of I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! A novelist and journalist, she is also sister to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

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