Big Brother (UK)

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Big Brother
Big Brother UK 14 WhiteBackgnd Eye.jpg

Big Brother is a television reality game show based on an originally Dutch TV series of the same name created by producer John de Mol in 1997.[1] The show follows a number of contestants, known as housemates, who are isolated from the outside world for an extended period of time in a custom built House. Each week, one of the housemates is evicted by a public vote, with the last housemate remaining winning a cash prize. The series takes its name from the character in George Orwell's 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. The series premiered on 18 July 2000 on Channel 4, and immediately became a ratings hit.[2] The series also featured a twenty-four hour live feed, in which fans could view inside the house at any time. The series aired eleven series on Channel 4, with the final series airing on 10 September 2010.[3][4] Following this, Channel 5 acquired the rights to the series, and it was officially relaunched on 18 August 2011.[5] The show is currently slated to air its fifteenth series in Summer of 2014.

The show was initially hosted by Davina McCall from its inception to its cancellation by Channel 4. Despite being offered the position of host following the show's move to Channel 5, McCall chose not to return. Former winner Brian Dowling became the host, a position he held throughout the twelfth and thirteenth series.[6] Emma Willis later replaced Dowling as the host of the series for the fourteenth series, with Willis currently being slated to host the fifteenth series as well.[7] Marcus Bentley has been the narrator of the series since it premiered in 2000. Big Brother has had numerous spin-off series' occur since its premiere, most notably Celebrity Big Brother, which is a shorter version of the main series whereas the cast is comprised solely of celebrities. Numerous other spin-off series that are not competition based have aired, with Dermot O'Leary,[8] Russell Brand,[9] George Lamb,[10] and Emma Willis all hosting spin-offs. Over the course of its run, there have been a total of 31 series of Big Brother; this includes fourteen regular series, thirteen celebrity series, and four special series. Currently, Big Brother UK is the third-longest running version of Big Brother, running slightly shorter than the Spanish and American versions of the show.


Main series[edit]

Davina McCall was the host of the first eleven series'.

The Big Brother reality series was initially created by John de Mol and premiered in the Netherlands.[11][12] Following the success of the series, it was confirmed that editions for both the United Kingdom and the United States were in the works.[13] In March 2000, it was revealed that the series would be broadcast by Channel 4 and E4.[14] Casting for the series began shortly afterwards.[15] Davina McCall was later revealed to be the host for the series.[16] The first series premiered on 18 July 2000, and ended when housemate Craig Phillips was crowned the winner after 64 days in the House.[16][17] The series proved to be a hit early in its run, leading to a second series.[18] Big Brother 2 premiered on 25 May 2001, and continued to have the success of the previous series.[19] The series concluded on 27 July 2001, when Brian Dowling was crowned the winner.[20] The third series premiered on 24 May 2002, and was the first series to feature a live premiere.[21] Much like the previous series', the show lasted for 64 days, and saw Kate Lawler win the prize.[22] With the third series finding even more success than it's predecessors, a fourth series began on 23 May 2003.[23][24] The series was one of the first to feature numerous twists throughout the series, including nominations on the first night and swapping a housemate with a housemate from the African edition of the series.[25] The series concluded after 64 days, with Cameron Stout being crowned the winner.[26] Despite the fourth series seeing a decrease in viewership and voting numbers, a fifth series began on 28 May 2004.[27] The series became one of the most controversial series' at the time, mainly due to events such as "Fight Night" and the expulsion of two housemates.[28][29] The series lasted for 71 days, with Nadia Almada becoming the first transsexual housemate to win the series.[30][31]

Following the success of the fifth series, the sixth series began on 27 May 2005, and lasted for a total of 78 days.[32] The series was met with much controversy surrounding housemates Anthony Hutton and Makosi Musambasi, the former of which went on to win the series.[33][34] The seventh series premiered on 18 May 2006, and became the first series to feature over twenty housemates.[35] It became the first series to last longer than 90 days, and was met with much controversy after allowing previously evicted housemate Nikki Grahame to return to the game with the chance of winning.[36][36][37] Pete Bennett was ultimately crowned the winner of the series.[38] The following series premiered on 30 May 2007, and became the longest series to date at 94 days.[39] The series featured a set of twins in the House, who competed initially as individuals but later became one housemate.[40] Brian Belo was crowned the winner of the series. Belo is currently the youngest winner of the series and the only black housemate to win.[41] The ninth series featured a "Heaven and Hell" theme, and premiered on 5 June 2008.[42] Rachel Rice was the winner of the series after spending 93 days in the House.[43] On 4 June 2009, the tenth series premiered and saw housemates having to complete tasks in order to earn housemate status.[44] Sophie Reade was the winner of the series, which lasted for a total of 93 days.[45] 9 June 2010 saw the premiere of the eleventh series, which was confirmed to be the final series.[46] The series lasted for a total of 77 days, with Josie Gibson being crowned the winner.[47]

After Richard Desmond bought Channel 5 in 2010, he said he was keen to acquire Big Brother.[48] Meanwhile, Endemol had been granted permission to keep the Big Brother House at the Elstree TV Studios until 30 September 2013.[49] On 2 April 2011, The Daily Star, a newspaper owned by Desmond's Northern & Shell company, reported that Big Brother would be returning on Channel 5 in August 2011 with a Celebrity edition, followed by a main edition in September.[50] Four days later, Channel 5 formally confirmed that they had signed a £200 million two-year contract with Endemol to screen Big Brother from 18 August 2011.[51][52] Big Brother 2 winner Brian Dowling was announced as the new host.[53][54][55] McCall declined the offer to host, having said goodbye to the show in 2010.[56] On 3 May 2011, Endemol and Channel 5 officially opened the process for people to apply to be on the show.[57] The twelfth series officially launched on 9 September 2011.[58] Aaron Allard-Morgan was crowned the winner after spending 64 days in the House.[59] The thirteenth series premiered on 5 June 2012, and was won by Luke Anderson.[60] On 2 April 2013, it was confirmed that Dowling would be replaced by Emma Willis, who had previously hosted spin-off series' for the show.[61] The fourteenth series premiered on 13 June 2013, and was won by Sam Evans.[62] The fifteenth series is currently slated to air in the Summer of 2014.[63]


The logo for the thirteenth series of Celebrity Big Brother.

Since its inception, Big Brother has seen numerous spin-offs and tie-in series' launch on both Channel 4 and Channel 5. The most notable spin-off, Celebrity Big Brother, began initially as a one time series and involved six celebrities staying in the House for eight days.[64][65] Following the success of the series, Celebrity Big Brother went on to become an annual occurrence, much like the main series.[66][67] Following widespread media attention involving racism during the fifth series, the show was not broadcast for two following years.[68][69][70] The show returned in 2009, and the final series to air on Channel 4 aired in 2010.[71] Following the show's move to Channel 5, Celebrity Big Brother began airing two series per year.[72] The show has also had various other spin-off series occur since its premiere. The first spin-off, Teen Big Brother: The Experiment, premiered on 13 October 2003 and lasted for a total of ten days.[73] The series was met with much controversy, which was later heightened when two of the cast members had sex in the House.[74] Big Brother Panto, which aired in 2004, saw the return of ten former housemates who re-enacted their rendition of Cinderella.[75] Ultimate Big Brother was the final series to air on Channel 4, and featured fourteen of the most memorable housemates from both the main series and Celebrity Big Brother competing in the series.[76][77] Brian Dowling became the only housemate to win a series twice after winning Ultimate Big Brother.[78] Numerous other spin-offs have occurred throughout the series such as Big Brother's Big Mouth, hosted by Russell Brand, and Big Brother's Little Brother hosted by Dermot O'Leary.[79][80][81] Following the show's move to Channel 5, Big Brother's Bit on the Side and Celebrity Big Brother are the only currently airing spin-off series.[82]


"Big Brother House, this is Davina. You are live on Channel 4; please do not swear. (nominated housemates' names), the lines are closed; the votes have been counted and verified, and I can now reveal that the nth person to be evicted from the Big Brother House is...(evicted housemate's name). You have 30 seconds to say your goodbyes; I'm coming to get you!"

— McCall's speech when announcing the evicted housemate, which was only slightly altered by future hosts.[83]

Big Brother is a game show in which a group of contestants, referred to as housemates, live in isolation from the outside world in a custom built "house", constantly under video surveillance.[84] During their time in the House, the housemates are required to nominate two of their fellow contestants for potential eviction, and the two or more with the most votes would be nominated.[85] This process is mandatory for all housemates, and failure to comply could result in expulsion from the House.[86] During the show's broadcast on Channel 4, the viewers would vote to evict one of the nominated housemates, and the housemate with the most votes would be removed from the House.[87] The twelfth and thirteenth series', the first two to air under Channel 5, saw the public voting to save a housemate, and the housemate with the least amount of votes would be evicted.[88] Beginning with the fourteenth series, the vote to evict format returned to the series.[89] The voting process can be done via telephone or online.[90] When the final week arrives, the viewers vote for which of the remaining housemates should win the series, and the housemate with the most votes becomes the winner.[91] The prize fund has varied throughout the series, ranging from £50,000 to £100,000.[92][92][93]

During their time in the House, housemates are given weekly tasks to perform.[13] The housemates wager a portion of their weekly shopping budget on the task, and either win double their wagered fund or lose the wagered fund depending on their performance in the task.[94] The housemates are required to work as a group to complete their tasks, with the format of the tasks varying based on the amount of remaining housemates. Throughout the series, some housemates have been given secret tasks that must either be completed individually or with a small group; failure to do so can result in the housemate being nominated or punished in the House.[95][96] Should the housemates run out of the food provided for them, an emergency ration was available to them. The housemates are forbidden from discussing nominations, and doing so could result in punishment.[97][98] The format of the series is mainly seen as a social experiment, and requires housemates to interact with others who may have differing ideals, beliefs, and prejudices.[99][100] Housemates are also required to make visits to the Diary Room during their stay in the House, where they are able to share their thoughts and feelings on their fellow housemates and the game.[101]


For the first two series, the House was located in Bow, London near the 3 Mills Studios.[102] After planning permission expired in 2002, Newham London Borough Council ordered the complex to be returned to a natural habitat.[103] The House has been located at Elstree Studios, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire since Big Brother 3 in 2002.[103] Following a break in during the second series,[104] it was reported that security had increased to the point that the House was more secure than Buckingham Palace.[105][106][107] The interior of the House has changed each year, with the theme of the House representing a certain theme or twist in the game.[108] The fifth series, which featured stricter rules and consequences, featured a harsh color scheme and a claustrophobic setting.[109][110] The third series featured a "Rich and Poor" twist, thus a row of bars was placed in the center of the House to divide the housemates.[111][112] The Diary Room features a different design each year, and is frequently the last room of the House to be revealed to the public.[113] Each series has featured a garden in the House, which has included outdoor furniture, a jacuzzi, and on some occasions other luxuries.[114][115] The eighth series featured an "inside out" theme for the House, thus items such as the refrigerator were located in the garden.[116]


Russell Brand (above) hosted the spin-off series Big Brother's Big Mouth.

During the premiere series, the show aired six nights a week, being every night excluding Saturday.[117] The eviction episodes and final aired on Fridays;[17] after series host McCall announced the evictee, they had two hours to pack their belongings and exit the House during a second episode airing that night.[118] The remaining five weekly shows were highlight episodes, which lasted an hour in length; the Sunday episode featured a group of psychologists discussing the events of the House.[99][119] The second series aired six nights a week during the premiere week, though was reduced to only five days afterwards; the series did not air on Saturday or Sunday.[19] This series featured two eviction episodes as well, though only featured a ninety minute gap between the two.[120] Big Brother 3 was the first series to air every night each week, and every series following series featured only thirty minutes between eviction episodes.[19] The third series was the first in the main series to feature a live launch, with all subsequent series featuring a live launch.[121] The series continued to air for seven nights a week until Big Brother 8, which aired every night excluding Saturday.[19] The ninth series re-introduced the seven episodes per week format, which has been continued throughout all future series'.[122][123] When the series premiered, it was aired in a 4:3 aspect ratio instead of the more common 16:9 widescreen format seen by other series at the time.[124] Beginning in 2006 with the seventh series, the show was broadcast in the 16:9 format.[125] Following the show's move to Channel 5, it was broadcast in HD.[126][127] The series can be viewed on Demand 5, a branch of Channel 5, after it airs.[128]

Aside from the main series, the show featured a live feed into the House where viewers could watch the housemates at any time.[129] With the series debut in 2000, the twenty-four hour live feed was introduced which was available at anytime to viewers for free.[130] The live feed featured an estimated ten minute delay to comply with broadcasting standards.[131] Beginning with the second series, the live feed became available on E4 as well.[132] In 2009, it was confirmed that the live feeds would not return for the tenth series due to a "small uptake" of subscriptions in the previous year.[133][134] The feeds did return the following year, though required viewers to pay a fee, for what was at the time slated to be the final series for the show.[135] Following the show's move to Channel 5, the live feeds have not been featured for any subsequent series.[136] In 2013, it was announced that the live feed would return in the form of a two-hour nightly show that featured a live look into the House;[137][138] the show was cancelled in June of that year, reportedly due to low ratings.[139][140][141][142] Despite this, the feed was re-instated onto the official Channel 5 website for the remainder of the fourteenth series.[143]

Numerous spin-off series have aired either immediately after or shortly following both the highlight episodes and the live episodes. Big Brother's Big Mouth, aired following the highlight shows. The show as initially hosted by Russell Brand from 2004 to 2007,[144] though did not return for subsequent series which featured a different host weekly.[145][146] Big Brother's Big Mouth did not return following the show's move to Channel 5.[147] Throughout the third, fourth, and fifth series' there were no weekly tasks, and the housemates instead participated in tasks during the Saturday Night Live weekly show.[148][149][150] Big Brother's Big Brain also aired once per week, and featured a more psychological analysis of the series;[151] it aired for two series, being renamed Big Brother: On the Couch for its second and final series.[152] Currently, Big Brother's Bit on the Side airs seven nights a week on Channel 5 and 5*, either immediately following or an hour after the nightly episode.[153][154] Live from the House, which features a live feed into the House, airs immediately following the live eviction episode.[155][156]

A 17 second audio sample of the series' theme song.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

The opening theme for the series was both written and produced by Elementfour, which is a collaboration between Paul Oakenfold and Andy Gray.[157] Following the success of the first series, the theme was released as a single in September 2000.[158] The single proved to be successful, reaching number 4 on the UK Singles Chart.[159][160] The theme was also featured on the soundtrack for the first series, which was released that same year.[161] Since the series premiered, there have been numerous remixes and changes made to the song. The original theme by Oakenfeld and Gray was used through the first five series, however was later replaced by a revamped version from the sixth series onward.[162] The song was remixed with a Christmas theme to promote Big Brother Panto in 2004, while a carnival themed edition was made to promote the final series to air on Channel 4.[163] The intro to each series, which featured the theme song, was often based on the twist or theme of the House for the year.[164] Each series is promoted with a different eye logo,[165] with the logo also representing the theme of the House.[166][167] The eye logo is meant to symbolize the phrase "Big Brother is watching" taken from the Orwell novel.[168] The logo for the first series was a close-up of housemate Melanie Hill's eye, while the logos for the second through eleventh series' were created by Daniel Eatock.[169] Design team Hello Charlie, who had previously created the series intros, created the eye logo for the twelfth series onward following the show's move to Channel 5.[170][171][172]


Housemates Chanelle Hayes (left) and Jade Goody (right) were among several housemates who enjoyed much media attention after their respective series.

Since its premiere, Big Brother has been the center of much publicity, and has received much media attention.[173] The series often receives coverage from tabloid newspapers, magazines, and online bloggers.[174][175][176] The series has been a ratings success since it premiered, with the first eviction tally receiving 387,000 votes.[177] The eviction episode itself received a total of 3.4 million viewers.[178] The series continued to have successful viewership, with the third series finale reaching over 9.9 million viewers.[179] The vote for the third series finale saw over 8.6 million viewers voting for whom should win the series.[179] A number of books have been written about the series, including Big Brother: The Official Unseen Story by Jean Ritchie (ISBN 978-0-7522-1912-7),[180][181] The Psychology of Big Brother by Dan Jones (ISBN 978-1-4092-2825-7),[182][183] and Visible Thought: The New Psychology of Body Language by Geoffrey Beattie (ISBN 978-0-415-30810-6).[184][185] Narinder Kaur, who had previously appeared as a housemate in the second series, went on to release Big Brother: The Inside Story (ISBN 978-0-7535-1294-4).[186][187]

Following their appearance on the series, numerous former housemates went on to enjoy moderate fame and success in the public eye. Most notably, Big Brother 3 housemate Jade Goody went on to have a successful career in reality television and later went on to appear in the fifth edition of Celebrity Big Brother.[188][189] Goody ultimately passed away in 2009 due to cancer.[190] Following her appearance on the series, Goody has frequently been referred to as one of the most successful former housemates.[191][192] Following the initial conclusion of the series in 2010, a special titled Jade Goody: Ultimate Housemate aired on Channel 4 in memory of Goody.[193][194][195] Housemates such as Alison Hammond, Brian Dowling, and Aisleyne Horgan-Wallace have enjoyed considerate success appearing in television series and reality television following their appearance on Big Brother.[196][197] Housemates Nadia Almada, Craig Phillips, and Nichola Holt all released music following their appearance on the series, with Phillips ultimately having the most success.[198][199][200][201] Nikki Grahame, who rose to fame in the seventh series, had her own television series titled Princess Nikki that ran for six weeks on E4.[202] She later went on to appear in numerous reality television series.[203][204] Chanelle Hayes, who appeared on the eighth series, went on to release a single, work as a model, and receive her own reality television series.[205][206][207]

The series has gone on to be spoofed and parodied by comedians such as Alan Carr,[208][209] Justin Lee Collins,[210][211] and Ricky Gervais.[212][213] The series has been parodied and re-enacted on programs such as The Friday Night Project,[214] an episode of Doctor Who, and Extras.[215] The Ben Elton novel Dead Famous, published in 2001, is a murder-mystery novel in a setting similar to that of Big Brother.[216][217] In October 2008, E4 aired the horror series Dead Set which was set during a fictional series of Big Brother.[218][219] The series featured numerous former housemates, as well as host Davina McCall in various roles throughout the series.[220][220][221]

Series details and viewership[edit]

Channel 4 (2000–2010)[edit]

Series Launch date Finale date Days Housemates Winner Prize money Average viewers
Big Brother 1 18 July 2000 15 September 2000
Craig Phillips £70,000 4.5 52
Big Brother 2 25 May 2001 27 July 2001 Brian Dowling 55
Big Brother 3 24 May 2002 26 July 2002
Kate Lawler 5.8 72
Big Brother 4 23 May 2003 25 July 2003
Cameron Stout 4.6 73
Big Brother 5 28 May 2004 6 August 2004
Nadia Almada £63,500 5.1 82
Big Brother 6 27 May 2005 12 August 2005
Anthony Hutton £50,000 4.6 90
Big Brother 7 18 May 2006 18 August 2006
Pete Bennett £100,000 4.7 107
Big Brother 8 30 May 2007 31 August 2007
Brian Belo 3.9 96
Big Brother 9 5 June 2008 5 September 2008
Rachel Rice 3.6 108
Big Brother 10 4 June 2009 4 September 2009
Sophie Reade £71,320 2.5
Big Brother 11 9 June 2010 24 August 2010
Josie Gibson £100,000 3.0 86

Channel 5 (2011–present)[edit]

Series Launch date Finale date Days Housemates Winner Prize money Average viewers
Big Brother 12 9 September 2011 11 November 2011 64 15 Aaron Allard-Morgan £50,990 1.6 71
Big Brother 13 5 June 2012 13 August 2012 70 17 Luke Anderson £50,000 73
Big Brother 14 13 June 2013 19 August 2013 68 14 Sam Evans £100,000 1.9 69
Big Brother 15 Summer 2014


Series Launch date Finale date Days Housemates Winner Channel Average viewers
Teen Big Brother 13 October 2003 17 October 2003 10 8 Paul Brennan Channel 4 2.6 5
Big Brother Panto 20 December 2004 5 January 2005 11 10 none E4 N/A 12
Ultimate Big Brother 24 August 2010 10 September 2010 18 14 Brian Dowling Channel 4 3.1 22


Channel 4 (2000–2010)[edit]

Series Sponsor Slogan Notes Years
Big Brother 1 Southern Comfort N/A 2000
Big Brother 2 BT Cellnet It's the Buzz 2001
Big Brother 3 O
Get Connected See note 1 2002
Big Brother 4 2003
Teen Big Brother
Big Brother 5 TalkTalk Get Together 2004
Big Brother Panto 2004–05
Big Brother 6 2005
Big Brother 7 The Carphone Warehouse 2006
Big Brother 8 Virgin Media For a Happy House See note 2 2007
Big Brother 9 Virgin Mobile See note 3 2008
Big Brother 10 Lucozade Energy Little Brother vs. Big Brother 2009
Big Brother 11 Freederm Skincare for spot-prone skin 2010
Ultimate Big Brother

Channel 5 (2011–present)[edit]

Series Sponsor Slogan Notes Years
Big Brother 12 Freederm Well worth a closer look 2011
Big Brother 13 Schwarzkopf Live Color XXL[223] If you've got the attitude we've got the colour 2012
Big Brother 14 SuperCasino Feel it for real See note 4 2013
  • ^1 BT Cellnet changed its name to O2, the sponsor is therefore the same as the previous series
  • ^2 The cost of this sponsorship was £2.5 million
  • ^3 Although the change of the name of the sponsor, it is still the same company and the same sponsor adverts were used
  • ^4 This sponsorship is only shown after 9.00pm

Controversy and criticism[edit]

Since its inception, Big Brother has came under fire for reports of bullying,[224][225] racism,[226][227][228][229] rigging,[230][231] and the physical and mental strain of appearing on the series.[232][233][234]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award show Category Nominee(s) Result
2001 British Academy Television Awards Innovation Award Big Brother 1 Won
National Television Awards 2001 Most Popular Factual Programme Big Brother 2 Won
2002 National Television Awards 2002 Big Brother 3 Won
Most Popular Entertainment Presenter Davina McCall Nominated
2003 National Television Awards 2003 Most Popular Factual Programme Big Brother 4 Nominated
Most Popular Entertainment Presenter Davina McCall Nominated
2004 National Television Awards 2004 Most Popular Reality Programme Big Brother 5 Won
Most Popular Entertainment Presenter Davina McCall Nominated
Dermot O'Leary Nominated
2005 National Television Awards 2005 Most Popular Reality Programme Big Brother 6 Won
Most Popular Entertainment Presenter Davina McCall Nominated
2006 National Television Awards 2006 Most Popular Reality Programme Big Brother 7 Won
Celebrity Big Brother 4 Nominated
Most Popular TV Contender Nikki Grahame Won
Pete Bennett Nominated
Chantelle Houghton Nominated
Most Popular Entertainment Presenter Davina McCall Nominated
2007 British Academy Television Awards Pioneer Audience Award Celebrity Big Brother 5 Nominated
National Television Awards 2007 Most Popular Entertainment Programme Big Brother 8 Nominated
2008 National Television Awards 2008 Big Brother 9 Nominated
2009 Digital Spy Reality TV Awards 2009 Sexiest Male Stuart Pilkington Nominated
Dale Howard Won
Love to Hate Award Rex Newmark Won
Best Reality TV Moment Luke Marsden and Rebecca Shiner kiss Nominated
Most Memorable Moment Mohamed and Kathreya's eviction Nominated
Best Host Davina McCall Won
Best Reality Show Big Brother 9 Nominated
Reality TV Legend Award Davina McCall Won
2010 National Television Awards 2010 Most Popular Entertainment Programme Big Brother 10 Nominated
2011 National Television Awards 2011 Most Popular Entertainment Presenter Davina McCall Nominated
Most Popular Entertainment Programme Big Brother 11 Nominated
Big Brother has not been shortlisted for or won an award since 2012.


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See also[edit]

External links[edit]