Created by Dutchman John de Mol and taking its name from a character in George Orwell’s novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, Big Brother first hit television screens in the UK back in 2000 and became an instant hit.
British audiences became enthralled with the concept of watching ordinary citizens, isolated from the outside world, put together in a specially-constructed house for multiple weeks, competing in various challenges and being evicted one by one after receiving nominations from one another.
The first series featured the iconic ‘Nasty Nick’ Bateman and was won by Craig Phillips, who has gone on to amass a property empire and grow his personal wealth to a peak of £15 million. Since then, the show has turned plenty of contestants into household names, including Brian Dowling, Alison Hammond and Jade Goody.
Dowling, who won the second series in 2001 as well as ‘Ultimate Big Brother’ in 2010, would go on to host the programme when it moved to Channel 5 in 2011, before being replaced by Emma Willis in 2013.
Meanwhile, Hammond has become very successful despite being the second person evicted in the third series in 2002. It seems that TV producers were a fan of her bubbly personality, as she has since competed in I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Here!, Celebrity MasterChef and Strictly Come Dancing, as well as making regular appearances on This Morning.
Finally, Goody was in the house along with Hammond, and was famous for her one-liners such as “Am I minging?”. She accumulated an impressive wealth after the show through autobiographies, fitness DVDs, her “Shh” perfume range, television, newspaper and magazine deals and property investments. Having appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in 2007, Goody sadly died in March 2009 as a result of cervical cancer.
Big Brother also hugely boosted the career of presenter Davina McCall, who has since become one of the biggest names on television, fronting shows such as The Million Pound Drop, The Jump and Long Lost Family.
At its peak, the programme brought in 10 million viewers for Channel 4, and upon it’s switch to Channel 5 became its most popular show ever.
A celebrity version was introduced in 2001, accumulating 21 series to date including the current one. Over the years, everyone from Jedward to James Jordan and from Katie Price to Katie Hopkins have stepped foot in the house and been under the scrutiny of the British public.
The current celebrity series, branded ‘Year of the Woman’, has featured the likes of former Conservative politician Ann Widdecombe, Love Island star Jonny Mitchell and controversial comedian Daniel O’Reilly, aka Dapper Laughs.
Last night’s episode saw former footballer John Barnes come under fire for his comments on homosexuality made to Shane Jenek, who performs as drag queen Courtney Act. Barnes, 54, suggested that “straight men always assume gay men want to sleep with them”.
He said: “’I know it shouldn’t be that way, but men are comfortable just being in a room with a woman, but with gays they don’t come with a gay man.
“They assume he’s definitely going to want to have sex with me. And that’s why men aren’t comfortable with gay men.
“They think ‘I wonder if he’s thinking about me without my clothes on’. It is an uncomfortable feeling that he is going to pounce on me.”
“Because of the stigmatization concerning the act itself, they’re thinking you’re gonna make a move on me, you’re going to touch me.”
Shane was praised by viewers for keeping his cool and trying to educate John on an issue the former Liverpool FC man was clearly naïve about.
Meanwhile, the whole house came to terms with Friday’s double eviction which saw Maggie Oliver and Rachel Johnson voted out. Following India Willoughby’s exit last week, it means that the first three evictees on this ‘Year of the Woman’ series have all been female.
However, it now seems as though the programme won’t be on our screens for much longer, with Channel 5 bosses considering giving it the axe after failing ratings.
The channel have a contract with Big Brother production company Endemol until the end of the year, which would allow for a summer series followed by a final celebrity version.
A show insider said: “There have been conversations between the execs about not renewing the contract for both Big Brother and Celebrity Big Brother.
“It would be the end of an era, but they feel the time is right for it to end.
“Big Brother is a very expensive format for Channel 5 and it’s getting to the point where it just isn’t worth the hefty price tag.”
It comes after the programme failed to compete with ITV2 hit Love Island last summer, with the Mallorca-based romance show racking in over three times as many viewers. At the time, Channel 5 boss Ben Frow admitted he would like to see Big Brother scrapped, stating: “I would be much happier if the channel did not have Big Brother on it.”
Even Celebrity Big Brother has suffered a drop in audiences, with an episode last weekend watched by just 800,000 viewers after being moved to a later slot. Furthermore, Friday night’s double eviction (usually hugely popular) was split over two episodes, with the second failing to hit the one million viewers mark.
There is a glimmer of hope for fans of the show though, with a Daily Star source suggesting: “There is still time for the bosses at Channel 5 to change their mind, but it is not looking likely.
“Even if they drop it, another channel or a streaming service may decide to pick it up for a future series.”