celebrity big brother
Celebrity Big Brother will feature only female contestants this year Channel 5

Channel 5 surprised Celebrity Big Brother fans by introducing an all-female line-up for the 2018 season to mark the 100th year since women won the right to vote in 1918. Viewers were also delighted to see 82-year-old Corrie legend Amanda Barrie as a housemate.

Barrie is one of the older housemates, along with controversial ex-Tory MP Ann Widdecombe and Maggie Oliver. Before entering the Big Brother house, the Coronation Street star joked about her latest TV project as an "occupational therapy" that won't allow her to think of dying.

"What keeps me working? I think it's occupational therapy to stop me thinking about death, really," she told the Mirror. Speaking about her stay inside the house, which definitely has its own challenges, Barrie said, "It's a new adventure for me. I mean, what else am I going to do? I'll just be sitting at home, so I thought I might as well have a go."

Barrie left Coronation Street in 2001 after her character Alma died of cervical cancer in the show.

The actress, who immortalised Alma Sedgewick for 20 years in the ITV soap, believes getting into reality TV with Big Brother is fun and it would have been "foolish" on her part to say no to the offer. "I vary between thinking, 'Have I gone entirely mad at my age?' to, 'Is this going to be fun?' The thing is, when you get to 82 and someone asks you to do something, it would be foolish to say no."

Without mincing her words, Barrie admitted that the huge pay cheque she will receive from the show will help her stay independently in a care home in the future. "I had no intention of doing it, but then I thought it could pay for my care home. It would be nice to have that independence," she added.

The Benidorm star, who married crime novelist Hilary Bonner three years back, playfully added that she felt like her wife is sending her to a care home instead of the Big Brother mansion. "Though I did have this moment when my partner, Hilary, put me in the car with two suitcases where I thought, 'Are you sure you're going to Big Brother or has she sent you packing to a care home now?'"

In the candid interview, the veteran actress also opened up about the recent tragedies that her family had endured and how the Big Brother money will help her 'heal'.

"I've had a lot of tragedies in my family recently, young ones and old ones. I think they all need a bit of a holiday together, so that's what I will spend some of the money on. My family has been incredible. They actually did say to me after all the tragedies we've had, 'For God's sake, go in because you'll make such a fool of yourself, it'll take our mind off everything.'"

This year, Celebrity Big Brother introduced only female contestants, which includes Widdecombe, Oliver, Made In Chelsea actress Ashley James, transgender newsreader India Willoughby, former On The Beach reality TV star Jess Impiazzi, Malika Haqq and journalist Rachel Johnson. The show airs on Channel 5 in the UK.