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EDITIONS
Thursday, 24 May, 2001, 13:53 GMT 14:53 UK
Reality TV around the globe
France's Loft Story
France's Loft Story has provoked the biggest protests
Survivor was first tried out in Sweden and Big Brother became a hit in Holland - since then reality TV shows have taken the world by storm.

Big Brother will have been shown in 18 countries by the end of the year, while Survivor has been sold to 21 countries.


Holland

This is where the Big Brother revolution started - when nine volunteers were filmed 24 hours a day for 100 days.

Dutch Big Brother
Big Brother became a hit in Holland
It became one of the country's top-rated shows within a month, and drew 15 million viewers for its climax on New Year's Eve 1999.

And its success prompted TV stations around the world to buy the idea.

Sweden

The first ever series of Survivor was called Expedition Robinson. it was shown in Sweden in 1997, and was soon a hit.

The finale was watched by half the Swedish population - making it one of the most popular programmes in the country's history. Expedition Robinson is now in its fourth series.

Its success also alerted TV bosses around the world to the potential of watching ordinary people fend for themselves in the wilderness.

USA

TV producers in the States are making their reality TV more and more surreal in the battle to win viewers.

Fear Factor, which starts in June, will feature contestants being dragged along the ground by horses, leaping across moving trucks and letting snakes and rats crawl all over them.

NBC is planning to launch Destination Space, which will see ordinary Americans put through their paces at a cosmonaut training facility, with the winner being blasted into space.

Richard Hatch, US Survivor winner
Richard Hatch won the original $1m US Survivor
Another new show is Amazing Race, where 11 pairs must travel around the world to win $1m. Expect a dramatic spectacle - it is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, the man behind Pearl Harbor, Armageddon and Top Gun.

Big Brother and Survivor seem tame in comparison.

Both were aired last summer - Survivor began first, depositing 16 contestants on a South Pacific island in May.

Two months later, Big Brother's 10 entrants moved into a house built on a California soundstage.

Survivor's prize was $1m, whereas Big Brother contestants could win $500,000 - and Survivor triumphed in the ratings.

Survivor producer Mark Burnett admitted faking scenes using body doubles - but said: "I couldn't care less - I'm making great television."

Survivor returned for a second, less successful series set in the Australian Outback, and a third season from Africa will start this autumn.

Big Brother is also coming back for a new run, which will be more challenging to create more interest, according to the CBS network.

Other similar American shows include Temptation Island, Chains of Love, Boot Camp and The Mole.

France

Protesters besieged the location of the French answer to Big Brother three times in one week.

They complained that Loft Story, where 11 contestants are locked in an apartment in Paris, was crude and sinking to new broadcasting lows.

Guards had to use tear gas to repel hundreds of protesters during one attack, and at another time police had to stop activists from storming the studio.

"With trash TV the people turn into idiots," one placard read.

The protests have fuelled public interest, and the show remains high in the ratings.

Portugal

Portuguese reality TV has caused huge controversy, with two channels threatened with action by watchdogs.

Portuguese Big Brother
Portuguese Big Brother could be prosecuted

Two contestants were thrown out of the Big Brother house after they were seen were seen having sex. They got married soon after.

The second series of the show finishes at the end of May. It keeps the contestants locked up for the longest time of any of the show's versions around the world - four months.

Rival show O Bar da TV (The TV Bar) could be fined for invading the right to privacy.

The competitors live in a Lisbon apartment next to their only source of income - a bar, which is open to the public.

Argentina

Two contestants in the Buenos Aries house are getting engaged just two months after being locked up together.

But a debate is currently raging about whether Gastón and Eleonora are getting engaged because of love, or to boost their chances of winning the show.

Many think this is another way for Gastón to increase his power over rivals in the house.

Australia

Twelve Australians are hoping to win A$250,000 (£91,000) in their version of Big Brother, due to finish in July.

Two men were recently arrested for trying to skydive into their Big Brother house's garden on the Gold Coast.

An uncut episode sparked outrage over scenes of full-frontal nudity, bondage displays and tales of group sex - but it won the ratings battle.

Denmark

Makers of the Danish version of Big Brother won a court case which gagged three participants who walked out of the programme.

Denmark's Pil: One of three to walk out
Denmark's Pil: One of three to walk out
Contestants Pil, Søren and Christian threatened to reveal their experiences to the media after leaving the house in April.

"They just walked out. They told the media outside the house that they are leaving because they want to destroy the programme," Mikkel Faurholdt, a spokesman for TVDanmark, told BBC News Online.

Poland

The show is building up to a climax on 18 June, and "everybody watches it but nobody admits to it", according to one worker at the British Council in Warsaw.

The biggest news has been Karolina and Grzegorz, two contestants who became a couple during their stay.

Grzegorz was voted out - and Karolina decided to follow him out of the house, on the outskirts of Warsaw, of her own accord.

Italy

Italy's Big Brother - called Grande Fratello - has stirred strong feelings after winning an award for its cultural value at a prestigious ceremony.

"What does Grande Fratello have to do with culture?" was the reaction of TV host Alessandro Cecchi Paone, whose show was also nominated for the Telegatt award.

But the Italian take on the show's format - with 10 contestants in a villa - was a ratings hit before it ended in December.

United Kingdom

Survivor was dreamt up by a Brit, Charlie Parsons of production company Channel 24, but was not picked up in his home country until it had been a success in Scandinavia and America.

"I knew it was the biggest thing that could be on TV here, but I couldn't persuade anybody to do it," he said.

UK Big Brother winner Craig Phillips with friend Joanne Harris
Craig Phillips pledged winnings to Joanne Harris
Big Brother beat Survivor to the screens, and looks like it could beat it in the ratings too.

The original Big Brother, which ended in September 2000, soon became compulsory viewing and the eviction of "Nasty" Nick Bateman - who was portrayed as public enemy number one - kept many hooked.

After 64 days - the show's shortest run in the world - Liverpudlian Craig Phillips emerged victorious and immediately pledged to give his £70,000 winnings to a friend who needed a vital operation.

And now two contestants - Claire Strutton and Tom McDermott - have revealed they are expecting a baby after a secret five-month romance.

The country got the Big Brother bug again in March when a week-long celebrity version of the show - won by comedian Jack Dee - raised over £500,000 for charity.



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