When 25-year-old Kate Gladman signed up to appear on Big Brother in 2007, she did so while painfully holding on to what she thought was a secret.
Just 18 months earlier, Kate had given birth to a stillborn baby. She had nearly died. Participating in Big Brother was a distraction – an attempt to forget about the trauma of losing her child.
But on Wednesday night’s episode of ABC’s You Can’t Ask That, Kate spoke candidly about the cruel stunt producers pulled to manipulate her into telling her story on national television. Eleven years later, Kate’s voice still quivers as she says she “didn’t want people to know” about her baby when she appeared on Big Brother.
“I sort of felt it was too deep and too real a trauma to be discussed on something as frivolous as a reality TV show,” she says. “But the producers knew about it [and] they obviously wanted to get the story out of me.”
Kate recalls all the contestants being called to the lounge room, and one man and one woman going to the diary room.
“The first couple went in and came out, and they were carrying, um, a plastic, like, robot baby,” she says. “It was sort of making crying noises and stuff, and I just… like the blood drained from my face.
Watch: Rob Mills discusses the toll of reality TV on You Can’t Ask That. Post continues after video.
“I said, ‘you’ve done this deliberately, and I want to leave the house’. And they said, ‘you can’t leave. You have to stay, and you have to tell your story’.”
“That’s how they manipulated me,” she says. “By asking me to look after a plastic baby in circumstances where I had lost my own baby, 18 months before.”
At the time, Ten released a statement saying Kate had told production she had dealt with her baby’s death. Her mother, however, described the stunt as ‘sadistic,’ and Jill Singer fittingly wrote for the Herald Sun that “You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know women don’t get over a baby’s death, ever”.
Now, Kate Gladman is a barrister. After Big Brother, she started going by her birth name, Katherine, in an attempt to remove any footprint of her time on the show.
Recently, however, Kate learned her colleagues talk about her stint on reality TV all the time.
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