Big Brother, where art thou? Channel 5 drops reality TV show

Final series starts on Friday, although another UK channel may consider buying rights

Big Brother has been dropped by Channel 5 almost two decades after the show first appeared on British television.

The final series will begin on Friday night, although there remains the possibility that the production company Endemol Shine could convince another British channel to buy the rights.

The announcement follows the conclusion of the recent series of Celebrity Big Brother, which was beset with controversy from the start. The theme of the series was built around the planned appearance of Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had an affair with Donald Trump, but was undermined when she quit the show on the day it began.

Other contestants made racist remarks, were criticised over past accusations of sexual misconduct, and the programme prompted thousands of complaints to the regulator Ofcom over the actions of the former Emmerdale star Roxanne Pallett.

“The forthcoming series of Big Brother will be the last, of either celebrity or civilian versions, on Channel 5,” said a spokesperson for the broadcaster. “We’d like to thank Endemol and all of the production team who have worked tirelessly to make the show a success.

“We’d also like to thank our brilliant presenters, Emma [Willis] on Big Brother and Rylan [Clark-Neal] from Bit on the Side, for their consummate professionalism, Marcus [Bentley], the voice of Big Brother, and all of the housemates who have created so many memorable moments.

“Most importantly, we’d like to thank fans of the show for their support over the last seven years. We look forward to giving the final series a brilliant sendoff.”

Endemol Shine said: “While disappointed not to reach an agreement with Channel 5, the decision opens up a new chapter and we are excited about future possibilities for Big Brother in the UK.”

Big Brother was first shown in the UK on Channel 4 in 2000. It was an immediate ratings success and heralded a new era in reality TV, creating a host of stars who were famous for nothing more than appearing on the programme.

Ratings fell towards the end of its Channel 4 run and in 2011 Channel 5, then owned by Richard Desmond, signed a contract with Endemol to acquire the programme. Desmond used his ownership of newspapers, especially the Daily Star, to heavily promote Big Brother and it became a mainstay of the relatively small channel’s programming.

In recent years the show has been overshadowed in both ratings and press coverage by ITV2’s Love Island.

Channel 5’s controller, Ben Frow, said last month that Big Brother was likely to face the chop despite it being one of the channel’s top-rated shows. The decision will free up millions of pounds to commission new programming.

Under Frow’s leadership Channel 5 has increasingly looked towards original commissions and this year it won its first Bafta in its 20-year existence, for Cruising with Jane McDonald.


Jim Waterson Media editor

The GuardianTramp

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