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Friday, 6 July, 2001, 01:04 GMT 02:04 UK
Winners bid adieu to Loft Story
Protestors at the Loft Story set
Protests against the show were fought with tear gas
After 70 days locked up in a loft but in the full glare of the cameras, the winning contestants in France's controversial reality TV show have finally been released.

Loft Story hit the headlines in May, when protesters tried to storm their Bastille to release the captives from a game deemed to be an infringement of human rights.

Loft Story contestants
Many of the contestants are now minor celebrities
The winners of France's answer to the international Big Brother phenomenon are Loana, a former go-go dancer and Christophe, a sociology student.

The show started in April with six men and five women, all telegenic 20-something singles sharing a house north of Paris, their steamy encounters broadcast on television and on the internet.

Partner hunt

Every week, viewers ousted one contestant.

The players were encouraged to find a partner, to live in a dream home.

Concerned by complaints about, among other things, the contestants' naked romps, France's broadcasting regulators forced the producers to allow the contestants one hour's off-screen break a day.

After a 10-day break, Loana and Christophe will have to live together in their Cote D'Azur prize house for another 45 days under monitored surveillance before they are finally deemed winners.

Prize

The winning pair will walk away with 1.5 million francs ($200,000) each in prize money.

Since it first began Loft Story has topped the ratings, drawing an average of seven to 10 million viewers for each show.

But the intelligentsia have been less enthusiastic.

In an essay entitled I Loft You, philosophy teacher Vincent Cespedes said the programme "accelerated the withering away of integrity, honesty and culture in millions of adolescents".

"One can only hope the youth will ultimately find it an indigestible object which they are obliged to vomit forth," he wrote.

See also:

15 May 01 | TV and Radio
French watchdog cuts Loft Story
20 May 01 | TV and Radio
Loft Story under siege
30 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
French Big Brother faces censors
14 May 01 | TV and Radio
Protesters raid French Big Brother
24 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
Big Brother contestants muzzled
08 May 01 | TV and Radio
Big Brother goes digital
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