A FORMER Miss Edinburgh who has just returned to the Capital after ten weeks in the Big Brother house has told of her “life-changing experience”.
Sara McLean, from Newington, reached the final night of the Channel Five show, coming fourth overall.
The 22-year-old said she had been on an “emotional rollercoaster” and was weighing up options ahead of her next move.
Last year’s Miss Scotland runner-up said: “It taught me so much and I’ve made friends for life. When I first went in I was very nervous and I was quite quiet. Because everybody had such strong personalities it was hard to get my point across.
“But you have to let go and be yourself. When you’re living in there you don’t really think of the cameras. Then on the Friday nights at the live evictions it hit home and you realise you’re on a TV series.
“I don’t think anybody can really explain what it’s like until you go in. One minute it’s amazing, then you’re down, then you’re upset, then you’re lethargic. Your body gets very tired with all of the emotions, I think we all felt like that.
“But it’s something that I’ll treasure for life. It was the most emotional experience but, at the same time, it was the best experience.”
Sara returned to the city on Wednesday night and has been catching up with friends and relaxing after the shock of being thrust into the spotlight following her daily appearances on the show.
She recently graduated from Edinburgh Napier University with a degree in marketing, and found out she had been awarded a 2:1 while still inside the Big Brother house.
She is still undecided about what the future will hold after the initial flurry of interest which follows the end of the series dies down.
She said: “After I got out of the house, all of the finalists went for something to eat. I went outside to make a phone call and everybody started shouting and taking photos, then the paparazzi turned up – it was surreal.
“I’m just going to enjoy it for as long as possible and take whatever comes. I’m not too sure myself what I’ll end up doing. If something comes along I’ll do it and if not I’ll go into marketing, which I love.”
In 2010, as Sara was crowned Miss Edinburgh, she hid personal heartbreak as her father, Colin, battled terminal lung cancer.
The 58-year-old was given just three months to live back in April 2010, but defied the doctor’s grim prognosis with an inspirational fight for life which ended just before Christmas last year.
Former St Margaret’s schoolgirl Sara said her personal development within the Big Brother house had allowed her to deal with the sadness of her father’s loss in a better way.
“Big Brother helped me hugely and I’ve changed a little bit as a person,” she said. “It’s given me a more positive outlook on everything.
“It’s taught me to be stronger and taught me that dreams can come true.”
• Series nine: Dance teacher Dennis McHugh, who once said he would invite Hitler, Mother Theresa and Judy Garland to his fantasy dinner party, was ejected after spitting in another contestant’s face.
• Series ten: Kenneth Tong, a self-declared “playboy” millionaire who lived in Morningside, scaled the wall of the Big Brother house and ran away. Earlier this month he sent offensive tweets to Gary Barlow after his baby daughter passed away.
• Big Brother Celebrity Hijack: Political campaigner John Loughton, who went to Craigroyston Community High, won this spin-off series.