IT'S a fickle business, fame by reality TV. There may be plenty of paparazzi bulbs flashed in the direction of Big Brother contestants in the aftermath of a series, whole pages devoted to them in the tabloids, and gossip mags awash with pictures of them stagg-ering out of nightclubs.
But a few months down the line many simply disappear into everyday obscurity, some fall foul of the press or into debt and others find them-
selves struggling merely to cope with being under the media spotlight. Indeed, of all the previous contestants on the popular Channel 4 show, perhaps only Jade Goody and Brian Dowling can claim to have (almost) shrugged off their reality television beginnings for a pitch at genuine stardom.
Pete Bennett, winner of the seventh series of Big Brother, is another who is adamant his current high profile is not about to diminish.
And while his 15 minutes are still running, the 24-year-old is piggyback riding his BB success, first with his recently released autobiography, Pete: My Story (which brings him to the Capital for a book signing at Waterstone's on Tuesday) and next the planned music career.
Few, though, would grudge Bennett his success - he clearly was not your average BB contestant.
Not because of his Tourette's syndrome and the facial gurns, body spasms and involuntary "w****r!" quacks that punctuated his every sentence, but because he seemed genuine and, unlike many other contest-ants, didn't bitch and backstab his way to the 100,000 prize. Recalling his decision to become a guinea pig for reality TV, Bennett says it was about "regaining sanity, winning to clear my mum's debts and to raise Tourette's awareness".
"It was also to remember who it is that I actually am," adds the reality TV show star, who admitted he has attempted suicide in the recent past.
Asked when we can expect to hear the results of his recent studio time with the song-writing supremo Guy Chambers (who penned Angels for Robbie Williams), Bennett is not so clear. "I don't know. He-he-he! I think that I'll probably have something out quite soon. But I don't really know," he admits.
"I've been recording with Guy and music is definitely what I'd say I'm best at.
"I'd describe my sound as progressive-punk-techo-pop, and I'm pleased with the songs that we have put down so far."
Asked how it feels to be an author, Bennett reveals the side of his personality that endeared him to the public in the first place - honesty and a fondness for telling it straight.
"This posh geezer came over and asked a load of questions. And I had to answer them."
How long did it take? "A whole week."
• Pete Bennett - Pete: My Story - book signing, Waterstone's West End, Princes Street, Tuesday, 1pm, free, 0131-226 2666