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Thursday, 20 April, 2000, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Geldof's Big Brother battle
Big Brother
German contestants arriving last month
The producers of the international TV hit Big Brother stole the idea from a company part-owned by musician Bob Geldof, a Dutch court has heard.

Independent production company Castaway is suing the Dutch firm Endemol for theft of format in a court in Amsterdam, saying the programme is a rip-off of its own Survive! show, where contestants are filmed fending for themselves on a desert island.

Big Brother features nine people in a surburban house for 100 days, filmed 24 hours a day by hidden cameras.

The programme has been a hit in the Netherlands and Germany, and has been sold to Channel 4 in the UK and CBS in the US, who will both broadcast it during the summer.

In both shows, contestants are voted out until one remains, who wins a large prize.

Bob Geldof
Bob Geldof: Was in court for the hearing

Geldof attended court to hear lawyer Otto van Klinken tell the court that "the unique combination of elements that form Survive! were adopted by Big Brother without the permission of its creators".

He listed 12 points where Big Brother bore uncanny similarities to Survive!

But Joris van Manen, counsel for Endemol, said: "We are dealing with two totally different television programmes."

Survive! was created by the British company Planet 24 - formed by Geldof, Waheed Alli and the show's creator Charlie Parsons. It is best known for shows like The Word and The Big Breakfast.

The trio sold Planet 24 to UK media giant Carlton last year, but retained the rights to Survive!, and subsequently set up Castaway.

Zlatko Trpovski
The German show's star - Zlatko Trpovski

Outside the court, Geldof said: "Win a lose, it's a point of principle, we're just fed up, you know. It shouldn't be allowed that a huge overweening company takes something you've done.

"If someone ripped off one of my songs I'd do the same thing."

Endemol spokesman Thomas Notermans rejected the allegations, saying: "The genre may be the same, but the programmes are completely different and they evolved separately.

"There are 20 or 30 game shows on TV and many different talk shows, but there are the same genre, not the same programme."

In the UK, Channel 4's version, hosted by Davina McCall, starts in July. In Germany, where the series is still running, one contestant - Zlatko Trpovksi - has already gained his own programme.

A verdict is expected on 7 June.

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