In a rare interview Camilla Severi talks about the incident that created national headlines and had everyone from the Prime Minister down talking about BIG BROTHER
It was just 15 seconds that was never shown on television, yet that 15 seconds would start a national conversation and reshape the way reality television is made in this country.
In the early hours of July 1 2006 Michael “Ashley” Cox and Michael “John” Bric asked fellow Big Brother housemate Camilla Severi to join them in bed. She was suspicious, but she bowed to peer pressure.
And that’s when it happened.
It was an event that would never have been seen under normal circumstances, but at the time Channel 10 was streaming the house live on the internet. It was cutting edge stuff. Big Brother was the first show to allow audiences to connect with the program even when it wasn’t on air.
Unfortunately for everyone involved, that footage was recorded and distributed online.
And that is when Australia learnt what a ‘turkey slap’ was.
“It was scary the amount of attention
that it received” – Camilla Severi
The incident led to then Prime Minister John Howard to demand the show be axed, when he told Macquarie Radio:
“Well here’s a great opportunity for Channel Ten to do a bit of self-regulation and get this stupid program off the air.”
*Watch EYE ON BIG BROTHER at 9.30pm after every episode of BIG BROTHER at facebook.com/BRRshow
The network was under enormous pressure at the time from Federal politicians, who had the upper hand because the network was pushing for media reforms regarding foreign ownership of TV stations (10 was owned by CanWest at the time, a Canadian media company).
This led to the three people involved in the ‘turkey slap’ becoming pawns in a much bigger game.
When the incident started making headlines, Cox and Bric were axed from the show. Severi would ultimately become runner up despite 14 nominations for eviction.
While appearing on The Ben, Rob & Robbo Show EYE ON BIG BROTHER recap show, Severi was asked about the incident:
“I was on the show for a hundred days, it was about 15 seconds of my time in the house and yet people do like to talk about it a lot.”
The topic is not something Severi likes to talk about. In fact she has turned down many requests for interviews on the subject, but she did allow us to ask about it during her appearance on The Ben, Rob & Robbo Show:
“A lot of people got hurt in that process, the boys were taken out of the show, it followed us all around.”
When asked about her feeling about the incident, Severi gives a surprising answer:
“My feelings have changed about this subject a few times. At the time there was an enormous amount of hype, we had helicopters flying over the house with telephoto lenses and taking photos of me the day after the boys got taken off the show. That was scary, it was uncomfortable.”
Severi says it was early in the morning and everyone was very sleep deprived and the housemates had been drinking:
“It’s one of those things where it was really a moment in time.”
“We were all mucking around and I’ve said this before, if it happened at a party and someone did that to me I’d probably say to them ‘hey that wasn’t cool’ and then we’d move on but because it happened on live TV and it’s been dissected so, so many times from different angles it was quite a confusing experience and I don’t know how the boys feel about it now but where I’m at now with it is I feel like yes, it was, the boys didn’t mean any harm to me, they didn’t mean to hurt me and I actually didn’t mean to hurt them if I was upset the day afterwards.”
There’s no doubt Severi’s silence on the subject has been to protect the boys involved as she has tried to move on with her life, but the question remains: was it a sexual assault?
“Look, I didn’t ask for that to happen and sometimes when people ask me about it I say ‘well, it’s really interesting this keeps following me around because I didn’t do it’. But am I scarred by it, no. What I’m scarred by is the constant attention, you know, and the fact that I went on to do eight years of breakfast radio, I have three beautiful children, I’m married, like I’ve got a really full life, I’m studying, there’s so much other stuff that’s going on in my life and this was like such a blip on the radar.”
You can see the full interview with Camilla below;