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Wednesday, 8 March, 2000, 13:09 GMT
Big Brother comes to Channel 4
Big Brother's German show on RTL2
Residents arriving for the German version last week
A British version of the fly-on-the-wall show which has been a hit across Europe is the highlight of Channel 4's spring schedule.

Described as a real-life version of The Truman Show, Big Brother features 10 recruits who will spend 70 days in a house which is cut off from the rest of the world.

The residents are under permanent surveillance by cameras recording their activities for television and the internet.

RTL2 Big Brother web page
The residents can also be viewed online
Viewers are privy to their rows and frustrations - and can vote to expel residents, with the last one remaining taking a cash prize.

The Dutch original, broadcast on the Veronica channel, turned its participants into national heroes.

But the German channel RTL2 ran into trouble with its version - set in a house near Cologne - which started last week. The country's interior minister, Otto Schily, called on viewers to boycott the show if they "still cherish feeling for human dignity".

Producers had to change the rules of the programme to allow its residents one hour each day off-camera to avoid falling foul of German broadcasting laws.

Ali G
Ali G: Long-awaited new series
Other shows being lined up for the spring include spoof character Ali G's own series, and a spin-off series from the film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Gail Porter will also host a new show about the internet.

Comedian Dylan Moran stars as an eccentric bookshop owner in the sitcom Black Books, while Trainspotting star Ewen Bremner stars in a new drama, The Secret Life of Michael Fry, about sex, blackmail and corruption in a Welsh town.

The ongoing libel case brought by historian David Irving against author Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books will be dramatised in The Holocaust On Trial. He is contesting claims he is a "Holocaust denier".

Channel 4 will also present a four-part adaptation of Tolstoy's book Anna Karenina.

Net gain: Gail Porter with Chris Addison on That Internet Show
A Caribbean Summer season of programmes and live events across the country will mark the West Indies cricket team's visit to England, while the Generation Sex campaign will examine young people's attitudes to sex.

A series of documentaries will also follow the dark side to family relationships, including a Cutting Edge film by Paul Watson on the state of marriage in the UK.

Channel 4 director of programmes Tim Gardam said the line-up proved the network was "thriving" in the face of intense competition.

"This rich schedule of high quality programming is demonstrating, yet again, that original and ambitious TV will always be in demand, regardless of where technology takes us."

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See also:

12 Oct 99 |  Entertainment
Watching Big Brother
03 Dec 99 |  Entertainment
Ali G's festive cheer
16 Dec 99 |  Entertainment
Channel 4's 100m Friends deal
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