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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 May, 2004, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Big Brother house shows ugly side
Inside the new house

Channel 4 has opened the doors of its fifth Big Brother House - which is designed to be as small and unwelcoming as possible.

The house has shrunk and been daubed with uninviting green decor as producers aim to raise tensions among housemates, as well as viewer ratings.

Producers are also promising tougher challenges in Friday's new series of the surveillance gameshow.

A witch, a male stripper and an ex-prostitute are said to be contestants.

It is hoped a harsh environment and interesting characters will lead to more fireworks in the house, and better ratings, after last year's fourth series fared poorly compared with its predecessors.

'Evil' designs

Green walls, stark fluorescent lighting and a beige carpet have replaced the stylish interior designs of previous series.

Casts of green hands are mounted on the wall by the kitchen while green splodges and puddles feature on the wall in the living area.

Designer Markus Blee was told to create "evil" for the housemates. He also designed Gordon Ramsay's new kitchen for ITV1's Hell's Kitchen, which begins on Sunday.

The space has also been reduced, with lower ceilings and raised floors.

Confined space

As it is smaller, designers made a dining table which can be folded and put away.

Producers hope the confined living conditions will prompt the explosion of any tensions within the group.

Executive producer Shirley Jones said: "This year we want to challenge the housemates' preconceptions.

"The house is smaller. It's a lot more oppressive. The ceiling has been lowered in places and the floor has been raised.

"We especially designed the house to make it difficult for people."

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