British director Ken Russell has a style all his own -- his films are immediately recognizable, usually due to their portrayals of lavish decadence. (Scotsman.com recently published a good profile about the director.) I watched a bunch of his earlier films in college: The Devils, Women in Love, The Music Lovers, Gothic. The last one I saw was the campy yet barely coherent Lair of the White Worm ("slither in!"); none of Russell's later films have grabbed my attention. Still, it was fun to see him last year playing himself in the faux-documentary Brothers of the Head, which even contains some scenes from a pretend Russell film about the twins. I wondered what he was up to these days.

What Russell has been up to in the last month, however, is reminding us that the man also has a personal style all his own. No, he's not wandering around with a farm animal to promote his latest film (that would be David Lynch). Instead, he decided to take a turn on the BBC's Channel Four's hit reality show, Celebrity Big Brother. He was the show's oldest contestant -- and one of the few I recognized on the list of the show's housemates, along with Leo Sayer and Jermaine Jackson. The level of "celebrity" seems pretty low, although perhaps the contestants are better known to Brit audiences. At any rate, Russell only lasted two days in the Big Brother house, during which time he managed to drop his pants in mixed company, drive others crazy with his snoring, and get into an argument about cheese with Jade Goody, whom I presume is the UK's answer to Paris Hilton. He left the show over the weekend with the excuse that "I am a big old fuddy-duddy and some of the surprises were a little too much to take for someone of my sensibility." This from the guy who directed that nasty grate scene in The Music Lovers?

I'm hoping Russell will now return to working on something fabulously overwrought -- IMDb lists him as having an adaptation of Moll Flanders in pre-production, with Barry Humphries and playwright Steven Berkoff in the cast. I've no idea how accurate the IMDb listing is, but I hope Russell will direct something that will tempt me to the theater to watch. Something completely un-fuddy-duddy, please. He's nearly 80 years-old, but I hope he hasn't mellowed.