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Last Updated: Monday, 31 May, 2004, 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK
Big Brother contestants unveiled
Jay, Big Brother 5
Jason, an air steward, turned up in a thong, bow tie and sandals
The 12 contestants in the fifth series of TV reality show Big Brother are spending their first day in the house.

Contenders battling for 100,000 prize money include a former asylum seeker and a gay hairdresser who says he only sleeps with straight men.

Channel 4 said at least 6.7 million viewers tuned in to watch this year's launch show at 2200 BST on Friday.

Producers have assembled a group of clashing personalities and introduced a tougher regime, including too few beds.

Although the prize money has been upped from 70,000, Big Brother has the power to knock money off for failed tasks.

Housemates include Marco, a former Samaritan who describes himself as "the biggest bitch on the planet", big-headed student Stuart, and legal administrator Emma.

No suitcase

Vanessa, a South African archery champion, and Nadia, a Portuguese bank clerk who's had a sex change are also among the six female housemates.

Programme bosses expect clashes between Michelle, a 23-year-old mortgage adviser whose ambition is to become a glamour model, and Kitten, a political activist and vegetarian who campaigns against sexism and pornography.

Jason, an air steward who turned up in his underwear, claims he has slept with more than 250 people.

The Big Brother housemates make their big entrance

The show's producers have promised tougher challenges this year.

Executive producer Shirley Jones said the new house would be less welcoming, with only one bedroom, with not enough beds, and no morning lie-ins.

Ms Jones outlined the new way prize money would be distributed.

"If they fail a task they get penalised in cash, at least 10,000 a week. It'll be interesting to see people's motivations once they realise that the money is at stake," said Ms Jones.

At the end of Friday's show presenter Davina McCall revealed one housemate would not be given the suitcases they were told to pack for the show.

Channel 4 said more than a third of the viewing public tuned in to see the new contestants - a figure up more than 15% on last year's launch show.

The programme, and the hour-long Friends finale that preceded it, have become the network's most-watched shows of the year so far.

Send us your reaction to Big Brother 5 using the form below.


Your comments

Quite a mixed bag, but probably chosen for all the wrong reasons. Dermot and Davina make a great double act - they could rival Ant and Dec if someone would only please give them a decent platform to work from!
Duncan MacIver, Aberdeen, UK

Whilst Big Brother has captured a niche in the TV market, it says very little for what our British values really are.
Reg Joseph, Stafford, UK

There is excitement and hostility in the airwaves this summer
Kobe, London
There is excitement and hostility in the airwaves this summer, wow. It can't get any better than this.
Kobe, London

What a fantastic start to BB5!! Let's hope that the housemates fall out with each other and get on everyone's nerves!
Rob Francis, Basingstoke, UK

The BB Producers must be desperate for ratings after picking the current lot. We have a gay drama-queen, a homophobic, a PC lesbian activist and a self-confessed womaniser. Is Britain really that sad that the only excitement over the summer months is watching a bunch of over-indulged & self-loving 'wannbees' catfight with each other? Truly Fantastic! Reality television gets a bad rap for being base and voyeuristic. Entertainment is what we want, and Big Brother guarantees to provide it.
Megan Page, Regent's Park, London

The usual boring, predicable, exhibitionist morons who just want their five minutes of fame before (hopefully) fading away.
Matthew, Norwich

If last year's gang were a bunch of bores, this time round it's a freak show. These latest contestants could be just too annoying to watch.
Jez, London

A bunch of stereotypical, offensive and pathetic attempts to get ratings
David Nicholl, Dunfermline, Scotland
I thought the 12 contestants are a bunch of stereotypical, offensive and pathetic attempts to get ratings. I will not be watching this year.
David Nicholl, Dunfermline, Scotland

Well, what a bunch! From first to last they certainly picked an interesting lot this time. It looks as though they have thrown the traditional contestant picking manual out of the window.
Phil Gauden, Bury, Lancashire

Once again, this travesty contains no "older" people and no disabled people. I wrote and complained about this last year but I got a waffled letter that rambled on and on and eventually lost the point!
Paul Lee, Woking

Everything is so blatantly designed towards conflict between housemates they may as well send the housemates on a military camp. Let's punish this kind of cynical ratings manipulation the right way - by collectively switching off our television sets.
Michael Zeigermann, London

I love Dermot, Davina, and the new open air stage, however not sure about the contestants! We will have to wait and see if BB5 can live up to expectation!!!
Louise Caine, Warwickshire, UK

Can't we have a token normal person these days?
Phil Harvey, Newport, Shropshire
I found it a real disappointment I'm afraid. With the normal BB mix you tend to find people you can relate to but this time I see no one there that would draw me to watching. I'm afraid the producers have lost the plot. Can't we have a `token' normal person these days?
Phil Harvey, Newport, Shropshire

With a combination of housemates like those, Big Brother 5 is bound to be explosive!
Andrew Boyce, Northern Ireland

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SEE ALSO:
Big Brother house shows ugly side
23 May 04  |  Entertainment
Camped out for Big Brother bid
08 Mar 04  |  Northern Ireland
Big Brother for Schroeder sibling
19 Apr 04  |  Entertainment
Big Brother 'changed our world'
05 Jan 04  |  Entertainment


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