Page last updated at 15:56 GMT, Wednesday, 26 August 2009 16:56 UK

Big Brother to bow out next year


Big Brother's memorable moments - footage courtesy of Channel 4

Channel 4's final series of reality TV show Big Brother will be broadcast next year, it has been announced.

The station, home of the programme since it began in 2000, will honour its deal to screen series 11 next summer.

Channel 4's director of television Kevin Lygo said the show "had reached a natural end point on Channel 4 and it's time to move on".

Big Brother has suffered from falling ratings in recent years, with the current run the least watched.

Rise and fall of Big Brother graphic

The latest series has picked up about two million viewers per show, compared with an audience high of eight million in 2002.

Speaking at the broadcaster's new schedule launch, Channel 4 head Julian Bellamy said: "Big Brother has been our most influential and popular programme over the last decade."

But he added that "inevitably we're both excited and ever-so-slightly terrified by the prospect of getting by without it".

Mr Bellamy said the loss of Big Brother would leave a "huge hole" in the station's schedules, but would prompt "the most fundamental creative overhaul" in Channel 4 history.

Torin Douglas
Torin Douglas, Media correspondent

Big Brother's ratings may have fallen from their peak - and it no longer fills page after page in the tabloids.

But it still attracts more viewers than most Channel 4 programmes - night after night - and that brings in a lot of advertising.

Dropping the show is a risk - it makes a good profit for Channel 4 and there's no guarantee that the programmes that will replace it will be as successful.

So will Big Brother move to another channel?

Some rivals will be doing their sums and opening talks with the show's producer Endemol.

But it's expensive to produce - some estimates put it at £20m a year.

That rules out most digital channels but it could still make financial sense for Sky or Five.

He stressed that Channel 4 was not seeking a like-for-like replacement for the reality programme, but admitted that fans of the show would be "disappointed" by its demise.

The broadcaster said it had already started to allocate funds which would have been spent on Big Brother into new drama.

The show also spawned Celebrity Big Brother, with one more series of the spin-off to be screened at the beginning of 2010.

Big Brother may not disappear from British TV screens, with the prospect of producers Endemol securing a deal with another broadcaster.

The show's makers said in a statement they are "enormously proud" of their partnership with Channel 4.

"We have every intention of celebrating the show's historic run on Channel 4 with great final series of both Celebrity Big Brother and the summer series in 2010," it continued.

"As for 2011, stay tuned. Big Brother will get back to you…"

The programme thrust contestants including Jade Goody, "Nasty" Nick Bateman and Kate Lawler into the spotlight.

It has also courted controversy, including in 2007 when Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty won Celebrity Big Brother following a series of rows with Goody, who was accused of bullying and racism.

Top marks C4 - I'll be able to start watching you again
Adam, Norwich

Meanwhile, the winner of this year's Big Brother will not receive the original prize money of £100,000, the programme's makers have announced.

The housemates were told the news after some of them attempted to stage a break-out from the compound on Tuesday.

The contestants broke out through a fire exit in the garden after being instructed by Big Brother to do something "entertaining".

The winner of the 10th - and penultimate - series of the show is due to be announced next week.

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