‘Drugs, stalker’: Life after Big Brother win
When Reggie Bird was crowned the Big Brother winner in 2003, she became Australia's unlikely sweetheart and seemed to have it all.
Within three months of appearing on the reality show she captured the hearts of the nation and her life had been transformed. The Tasmanian fish and chip shop worker pocketed $250,000 prize money and was swept up in the whirlwind post-Big Brother publicity circuit. But it disappeared faster than it came.
She told news.com.au's Not Here To Make Friends podcast life after Big Brother brought fame, drugs, stalkers and turmoil. And the money that should have been life-changing evaporated quick after a messy split and an unfortunate scam.
"The money just went," she told podcast hosts James Weir and Carla Bignasca, who also spoke to 2020 Big Brother fan-fave Angela on the episode.
LISTEN TO THE FULL CHAT IN THE PODCAST BELOW
"I left everything to Adrian (her partner) and moved to Sydney. I couldn't get a job for about two years after the show because no one would take me seriously. I spent all the money I had left on rent, and getting ripped off by that a**hole who made out he was a TV producer," she said.
Bird teamed up with a man who claimed to be a television producer and she paid him money to fund the filming of a pilot for a travel show.
"I thought it was legit. He said he didn't have money and asked to borrow five grand and another five grand and then it all snowballed," she said.
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Her new-found fame also brought with it a stalker and access to a party lifestyle she wasn't familiar with.
"(The stalker) Had so many aliases. Nine different names and things," she said, adding the man would come to her house.
"I met him at a movie premiere and he approached me. I didn't know anything - I'm just a little girl from Tasmania who cooks fish and chips. And you get thrown into this crazy world afterwards.
"Even going to events - I got offered so many drugs. And I don't take drugs and I didn't know what they were. I remember in Melbourne someone said, 'Oh, we're going to go pick up Charlie'. And I said, 'Who's Charlie?' And they were all laughing. Then I found out it was stuff you sniff."
A second marriage brought two children, Mia and Lucas. Bird told the podcast about the struggles that have come with raising Lucas, 10, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, as well as dealing with her own degenerative eye condition.
"The kids go, 'Oh, mum, didn't you win all this prize money with Big Brother?' And I do wish in hindsight I didn't do the things I did, but I didn't know. I was living and I lived life. I wish I had more guidance," she said.
And what does she think of the revamped Big Brother in 2020? She said she hasn't missed an episode. And she has a particular fondness for Angela.
"I just think she's f**king awesome," she said.
Listen to the full chat on the Not Here To Make Friends podcast.
Originally published as 'Drugs, stalker': Life after Big Brother win