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Last Updated: Friday, 27 May, 2005, 07:42 GMT 08:42 UK
Voice of Big Brother speaks out
By Chris Leggett
BBC News

Marcus Bentley. Courtesy: Yakety Yak
Big Brother narrator Marcus Bentley has been ever present since 2000
Dozens of contestants have come and gone over the past five series of Big Brother but one man remains - narrator Marcus Bentley.

His distinctive Geordie voice has described events in the household since the first series in 2000.

The 37-year-old trained actor will be back to narrate the sixth series, which begins on Channel 4 on Friday.

His part in Big Brother's success has been as remarkable as the rise of some of the contestants.

"I was on the verge of packing up acting and becoming a teacher just before the first series started in 2000," he says.

Demo tape

"I had a wife and children and was only getting by with voiceover work, theatre roles and TV bit-part acting.

"Reality TV was not so big as there had only been the BBC's Castaway when the Big Brother team contacted agents about potential narrators.

"I did a demo tape on my home stereo, which they liked, so I eventually got the job."

"Nasty" Nick Bateman
Bentley believes "Nasty" Nick helped establish Big Brother

The show's initial success was partly down to one man, says the voice of the show.

"No one knew how big the series was going to be so I should really thank Nasty Nick for being so nasty," says Bentley.

"People really got into it after that. We are all people watchers and a bit nosey. We also like to root for the underdog."

The narrator has no time for some of the usual critics of reality shows.

"If someone of the status of, say, Sir Ian McKellen slagged off reality shows, then fine, but it is always the actresses who burst out of their dresses at showbiz parties who slag off people from Big Brother."

It's nice to be patted on the back for basically reading out loud
Marcus Bentley

During the new series' 11-week run, the narrator will travel for two-and-a-half hours to a London studio each day from his Kent home.

"I get in about 2pm and then run through what is going to be on the show with the producers before recording my narration.

"Sometimes we may record the final version less than an hour before it is broadcast.

Fans' favourite

His narration has made him a favourite with fans of the show.

"In the first series I was told to keep my voice very monotone but I've developed a style and can point out things in an ironic way," he says.

"I was in a shoe shop with my kids and the assistant said that I sounded like 'him off Big Brother'.

Nadia Almada
Nadia Almada's Big Brother 5 victory was seen by 9m viewers

"My daughter said I was him. The assistant got so excited. I went bright red but I felt great. It's nice to be patted on the back for basically reading out loud."

Bentley says his agent initially didn't know how much to request when he was hired to do the narration.

"My money has gone up since then so I do quite nicely."

He believes he has helped to make the Geordie accent more popular on TV.

"I hear a few people taking me off on adverts. My agent had a call recently asking if he had a Marcus Bentley sound-a-like on his books. They didn't know he had the real thing."

No inside gossip

Despite being a key member of the Big Brother production team, Bentley claims he has no inside gossip on the new series.

"Information at Big Brother is on a need-to-know basis, so, like the rest of the audience, I will only find out about the contestants in the first episode when I sit down and watch it with my wife."

Pundits have predicted the death of reality TV for some time yet last year's series of Big Brother had some of the highest ratings.

"It's like a national summer event," he says.

"But the future of the show depends on who they put in.

"I thought Big Brother 5 was the best series ever but they have to keep finding the right mix of people."

The sixth series of Big Brother starts on Friday on Channel 4 at 2100 BST.

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