'Penny' lands a new job in soap

15th June 2001 at 01:00
Fresh from the 'Big Brother' house, teacher Lisa 'Penny' Ellis bared all bar a few soap suds for a tabloid newspaper while considering her next career move. Sharon Breen reports Big Brother evictee Lisa Ellis, known as Penny to millions of television viewers, signed a five-figure newspaper deal this week and is now looking for a "more creative" career than teaching.

The deal with Express newspapers, which includes the Daily Star and OK magazine, is estimated to be worth pound;50,000 - twice what she has been earning as an English teacher.

Lisa, who became infamous for her inability to keep her towel in place on the C4 show, posed for the Daily Star this week naked, bar strategically-placed soap suds.

Her representative at PR company Outside, the organisation entrusted with helping contestants adjust to life outside the Big Brother house, refused to confirm the size of the newspaper deal but described it as substantially more than a teacher's salary.

The 33-year old east London teacher has made no secret of her desire to extend her 15 minutes of fame, and this week told radio stations that she is still undecided about her future. Rachel ilver, at Outside, said she believed participants in reality TV programmes are usually looking to make changes in their life.

She said: "Lisa has not ruled out teaching, it's always there as an option of course, but she is also interested in doing something more creative like presenting children's TV."

As Education Secretary Estelle Morris said this week, teaching is not always a career for life.

Lisa's headteacher, Ms Cauthar Tooley, issued a statement this week saying that no decision on her future at Sarah Bonnell girls' school in Stratford had yet been made, nor would it, until she had met Lisa to discuss the situation with her. She was expected to contact her employers to arrange a meeting as The TES went to press.

Meanwhile, the General Teaching Council said Lisa's behaviour was just the sort of issue it was considering in its Professional Code for Teachers.

A spokesperson for Newham education authority said there was no pressure on Lisa to get in touch with her employers but that the LEA and the school both hoped to hear from her soon.

Lisa is currently on unpaid leave until the end of term.

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