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Last Updated: Friday, 25 May 2007, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
Australian Big Brother under fire
Emma Cornell (courtesy Endemol Southern Star)
Cornell has been living in the Big Brother house for five weeks
The Australian version of the TV programme Big Brother has come under criticism for deciding not to tell a contestant that her father had died.

Emma Cornell has been cut off from the outside world since entering the reality TV show's house a month ago.

She still does not know that her father Raymond died of cancer last week.

But the show's website published a letter from Emma's brother, Matt, saying the issue had been discussed before she went into the house.

He said: "Emma was aware of the possibility that our dad's impending death may occur whilst she was in the Big Brother production.

Big Brother Australia (courtesy Endemol Southern Star)
She might be upset when she comes out and finds out what has happened, but I think she'll understand
Tim Stanton, contestant's boyfriend
"Our dad had been ill for a considerable amount of time and wasn't taken from us suddenly; the family did have time to prepare themselves.

"We reassured Emma that, in the event that this did happen, grieving our dad's death when she was released from Big Brother would be no less meaningful or significant than when he actually passed away."

Mr Cornell also said his family were "stunned" by the reaction of people who "have based their opinions on a total lack of knowledge of our family's internal workings".

Risks considered

The Letter on Big Brother Australia website
The letter says the family is "stunned" by public reaction
Ms Cornell's boyfriend, Tim Stanton, told local media: "Her dad didn't want her to be upset or to feel like she had to leave the house to come to his funeral."

"She might be upset when she comes out and finds out what has happened, but I think she'll understand," he said.

But Chris Hall, a spokesman for the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement, said he did not think that this was in Ms Cornell's best interests.

"I still think that one needs to weigh up the risks in terms of following a course of action that may be well-intentioned but may ultimately not serve the bereaved person well," he said.

Previous controversy

This is not the first time that Australian Big Brother has attracted criticism.

Of course they should tell her. Big Brother is a gameshow it's no where near as important as knowing your father has died
Alison Cox, Northampton

Last year two male participants were withdrawn from the house after appearing to sexually molest a female contestant, and the late night edition aimed at adults has attracted complaints of being too sexually explicit.

In a separate development, a UK version of the programme involving celebrities was severely reprimanded on Thursday for its handling of a racist row involving an Indian contestant in the series broadcast in January this year.

The broadcaster, Channel 4, is being forced to make three on-air apologies.

Footage of Australian Big Brother

Criticism of Australian Big Brother
25 May 07 |  Have Your Say
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24 May 07 |  Entertainment
Big Brother's global controversy
18 Jun 04 |  Entertainment
Nude Big Brother upsets Australia
21 Jun 05 |  Entertainment
Student Sam departs Big Brother
17 Jun 05 |  Entertainment

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