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Friday, 24 May, 2002, 18:35 GMT 19:35 UK
The lure of Big Brother
Will the men triumph for a fourth time?

Big Brother fever is set to start again but can it compete with the excitement generated for fans by the previous series?

There were fears that after the initial Big Brother in 2000 there would not be enough interest in following the lives of another group of unknowns for a second summer.

But quite the opposite happened as more and more people tuned in to be up on the goings on inside the house.

The contestants found themselves even more of a goldfish bowl as viewers could spy on them through the night on E4 or on the web.

And then there was Celebrity Big Brother in March 2001 which, although only on for a week, became compulsive viewing for millions.

Big Brother in the UK was pretty much an instant success when it launched in July 2000.

Penny's irrational behaviour was enough to get her kicked out first
No-one knew quite what to expect as reality TV was still in its infancy and the project was being billed as a social experiment rather than pure entertainment.

But it quickly become television at its most addictive.

And the newspapers quickly tapped into the phenomenon, with BB making headlines in tabloids throughout the run, with even the chickens making headlines.


Sada, Nichola, Caroline, Anna, Melanie and their comrades waltzed into viewers' lives looking for fame and stardom - but rarely reaching the dizzy heights they thought awaited them.

Memories from the first series are dominated by the incident with Nasty Nick and his treachery.

At the time it seemed as if his dastardly deed of having a banned pencil was absolutely the worst possible thing he could have done.

The kangaroo court that confronted him seemed to accuse him of letting the house down and he was banished.

On reflection and rewatching old tapes his "crime" was so petty and the reaction so over-the-top it is difficult to believe it actually happened in real life and was not some badly-written script.

Nick Bateman is not giving up his 15 minutes of fame easily
But it kept the viewers entranced and made an anti-hero out of Nick Bateman - one which he is still trading on today.

Stuart Hoskins in series two followed in his footsteps by becoming public enemy number one for his hurtful remarks about fellow contestant Penny.


But if the men have been the baddies of the show they have also triumphed as winners.

In all three series there has been a male winner and a female runner-up.

Craig Phillips won the first series, coming from behind to win the hearts of the nation after he promised to donate the money to his help his sick cousin.

There was flamboyant Brian Dowling who entertained the audience and the house with his over-the-top antics and campness.

And in the celebrity week there was comedian Jack Dee, a favourite from the beginning, whose desperate attempts to escape ensured he would be kept in the house until the bitter end.

But how those few days kept us entertained.

Yes, there are boring bits and on E4 addicts can get their fix 24/7, even while there is absolutely nothing happening - watching paint dry has never been so fascinating.

Big Brother
Will the house have hidden secrets?
It is the characters who get the viewing nation behind Big Brother, without such a diverse mix of weird and wonderful people it really would be a big yawn.

Where else would you find a lesbian ex-nun (Anna) mixing with a shy farmer (Tom) and a man who has lived his life as an "international pop star" (Paul).

World Cup worries

There are few TV shows which can provoke such heated debate and conversation.

The characters develop, the plot thickens and too quickly it is all over for Big Brother fanatics.

With Big Brother and the World Cup set to dominate television for the summer if you hate football and reality TV the best advice would be to leave the country now.

But it's even less lucky for those going into the house if they want to know how their team is progressing in the Far East.

After Bubble's attempts to find out the England score in the last series, Big Brother will no doubt crack down on efforts to make contact with the outside world.

BBC News Online's coverage of Big Brother 2002

A closer look

Contestant profiles




Launch the Gallery

The Big Brother 12

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