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Monday, 11 December, 2000, 17:04 GMT
Big Brother reaches for the sky
Craig Phillips
UK Big Brother's Craig: Involved in charity work
A German television company has bought seven flights to the International Space Station as prizes for its latest Big Brother show.

The show reaches new heights by sending the winner up to the International Space Station - at an estimated cost of 17m.

Ute Krippendorf, the programme's spokeswoman, told BBC News Online that it could be the "most expensive programme" ever conceived.

The contestants would have to pass rigorous tests, and must be "physically sound, intelligent and psychologically well on track", she said.

Big Brother's Mel
Mel: To present reality TV gameshow
The Big Brother format has been used in programmes worldwide, with varying degrees of success - its last episode in the UK was seen by 10 million people.

It involves a group of contestants who must live together in a secure house while watched and eliminated by the public, based on television and internet footage.

Ms Krippendorf said that there would be about 100 prime-time shows in total, but that there would be only one winner in Germany.

"We have bought up seven flights between 2002 and 2008, but that is so we can sell the show on to other countries," she said.

Nick Bateman
Nick Bateman: "Trust me"
The first show will be in September 2001.

But with their feet firmly on the ground, the UK's Channel 4 Big Brother contestants are experiencing a more traditional taste of stardom.

Winner Craig Phillips presented a 40,000 cheque to Formula One champion Damon Hill, patron of the Down's Syndrome Association.

The money from pre-release sales of Craig's new single, At This Time of Year, was handed over after the song went silver before it hit record store shelves.

" It is my dream for the record to be the Christmas number one. That's the best present I could ask for," he said.

The Bowl
Big Brother gets fishy in the aquarium
Craig has already donated his 70,000 winnings towards life-saving surgery for his best friend's cousin, Joanne Harris, who has Down's syndrome.

And Melanie Hill, who lambasted Big Brother for portraying her as a "flirt", has been signed up as the presenter of a new reality TV show.

Chained, to be screened by Channel 4's digital service E4, launches next year, and involves six people who are manacled together day and night, again followed by cameras.

Mel said: "Chained is great fun, uniquely bizarre and definitely addictive but it's good being the presenter this time."

And Nick Bateman, forever remembered as "Nasty Nick" who was caught cheating and was thrown out, has his television show debut on Monday.

Channel 4's show, Trust Me, tests its contestants on honour and betrayal. The group, selected from various professions, will have to solve dilemmas in return for prize money.

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See also:

26 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Space show set for 'lift-off'
23 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Big Brother goes underwater
21 Nov 00 | Northern Ireland
Death threats over Big Brother visit
13 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Craig signs five-album deal
12 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Mel's Big Brother anger
16 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Big Brother: Up close and personal
12 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Reality TV overload
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