'Big Brother' Penny is not so bad, says profession

8th June 2001 at 01:00
AS the nation awaits the result of the vote that really counts this week - who will be kicked out of the Big Brother house - teacher housemate Penny has won the backing of TES readers.

The 33-year-old English teacher, whose real name is Lisa Ellis, faces two types of eviction. She may be sacked after appearing nude on the fly-on-the-wall game show and could also be booted out of the house tonight alongside Helen, the 23-year-old hairdresser with a penchant for fluff and glitter .

On The TES website this week, almost 90 per cent of teachers backed Ms Ellis, whose towel slipped as millions of Internet and television viewers watched her leaving the shower.

However, as Andrea Babbington said on our "Have Your Say" slot: "At least she won't have to face a class of adolescent boys who've all downloaded photos of her naked."

Cauthar Tooley, head of Sarah Bonnell, the girls' comprehensive in Stratford, east London where Ms Ellis works, warned her that she would be sacked if the school's reputation was tarnished.

Heather Penny-Larter could not believe that the conduct of Ms Ellis, who has also been shown kissing housemate Paul, 25, and massaging male and female contestants, was an issue. "The school must have given her leave to appear. Why doesn't it sack her for being annoyingor being laughed at by the other contestants? Dismissing her for lewdness would be as facile and as reprehensible."

Zoe from London, meanwhile, said it was time to shake off the idea that teachers , like vicars, should be role models for the wider society.

"Would we have a problem with Penny's conduct if she was a doctor, optician, an architect?" she asked.

Ms Ellis is fighting eviction from the Big Brother house along with Helen, the hairdresser who describes her perfect day as a long bath, blow-drying her hair and covering herself in glitter and fluff.

Kirsten Timbrell from London believes Ms Ellis, a self-confessed eccentric teacher, is a credit rather than an embarrassment to the profession. "We teachers are forever being viewed as boring androids whose life is our work. Penny is simply a normal woman expressing herself as an individual in the way that we all do in our private lives."

Just four out of the 36 teachers contacting The TES website believed Ms Ellis should be sacked. "The very fact that she went on this show at all, a show which is a vehicle for self-serving, greedy, egotistical, fame-hungry turnip-heads, means she is not a good role model for any young person," said Hugh Mooney from Oxford.


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