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Friday, 25 August, 2000, 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK
Big Brother 'costs business millions'
Big Brother
Making a splash: The contestants in their tub
Channel 4's TV sensation Big Brother is costing 1.4m a week in lost productivity, according to a survey by a software company.

The programme's website allows internet users to spy on the programme's participants 24 hours a day, and thousands of viewers watched from work last week as "Nasty" Nick Bateman's scheming was discovered by his housemates.

US-based software company Websense estimates that 300,000 a day is wasted by workers eavesdropping on events in the Big Brother house.

With Channel 4 reporting up to 150,000 users each day using the site for an average of 15 minutes each, the company estimates each video stream costs companies 2.91 each.

Nick's eviction for cheating caused a sensation
The company's European chief operating officer, Geoff Haggart, said: "Employees are watching this show at work, where they can use faster corporate bandwidth.

"It means the employer is not only losing out in lost productivity time, but with streaming video being so network intensive, Big Brother has the potential to crash corporate networks."

Nick's eviction also boosted Channel 4's more traditional ratings, with an average of 4.3 million people tuned into the show on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week - 30% of all people watching television.

The previous week saw it attract 3.4 million people, or 23% of viewers. Nick's eviction on Friday evening was seen by 6.9 million people - 42% of the audience.

Darren is favourite to be evicted
Viewers are voting on the latest eviction, which will see one of four housemates thrown out of the Big Brother house.

Six contestants are currently living in the programme's specially-constructed house in east London, which is sealed off from the outside world but is filled with cameras and microphones.

Bookmakers Ladbrokes have made London father-of-three Darren favourite to be thrown out by viewers, at 3-1. Liverpool builder Craig is next, at 6-1.

Former trainee nun Anna and Thomas, a computer design consultant from Northern Ireland, are also up for eviction.

Over a million called to vote last week, with 721,045 people electing to throw out Bolton textile artist Nichola Holt. Just 279,238 opted to evict Craig.

Andy Davidson
Andy being escorted away from the house by Davina McCall
From next week, Channel 4 will capitalise on Big Brother's success by moving the late evening shows on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to 2200 BST.

Producers have also installed a 10,000 hot tub in a bid to stir up passions among the housemates.

Meanwhile, Channel 5 has said it is "delighted" to welcome former contestant Andy Davidson as a guest host for its entertainment news show Exclusive.

The self-styled lothario co-hosted the breakfast show on radio station Atlantic 252 on Friday, and told DJ Tony Wrighton it was "very hard" for him to watch Mel say their on-screen kiss meant nothing to her.

"I sat bolt upright. I couldn't believe it," he said.

He added: "We spent a special three weeks together and I still hope to meet up with her when she come."

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Big Brother
Stories from inside TV's most famous house
See also:

23 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Four face Big Brother vote
24 Aug 00 | Entertainment
US TV's million-dollar Survivor
19 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Claire makes Big Brother debut
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