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Saturday, 30 September, 2000, 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
Eddie wins big in US Big Brother
Eddie McGee, Big Brother winner
Many viewers said the US version of Big Brother was dull
A New Yorker who lost a leg to cancer has won the first US version of Big Brother, the reality game show which acquired a huge following when it was broadcast in Britain.

Eddie McGee won $500,000, after viewers of the programme - broadcast on the CBS network - chose him over the other two remaining contestants, New York lawyer Curtis Kin and Californian Josh Souza.


My heart is pumping so hard. I have to remind myself to breathe

Eddie McGee, Big Brother winner

As in the British version, cameras and microphones in the house followed their every move and CBS transmitted updates on their progress as many as six times a week.

However, with an average audience of 9.1 million viewers, the US Big Brother has not proved as successful as it did in Britain. Many US viewers were simply bored with the lives of the contestants, TV critics said.

By contrast, the final episode of Big Brother in the UK - broadcast on Channel 4 - was watched by more than 10 million people, a much larger audience in comparison to the population.

Young viewers

Despite the lower-than-expected viewing figures, CBS says it has been financially successful because the programme attracted more young viewers, a problem for the network in the past.

Josh Souza
Josh Souza won second place and $100,000

"We do see tremendous potential in the concept," a CBS spokesman said. "But there's no official word regarding another edition."

"It's wild," said Mr McGee, after hearing that he had won. "My heart is pumping so hard. I have to remind myself to breathe."

He beat nine other contestants who entered the specially built house in California in early July.

Josh Souza won $100,000 as the second-place finisher, while Curtis Kin won $50,000.

Desperate

Mr McGee, a wheelchair basketball star, had annoyed some of his fellow contestants with his blunt talk and determination. But TV critics say the most interesting contestants were voted out early on.

At one point, the programme producers became so desperate to liven up the house with romance or conflict that they tried to bribe someone to leave the house with $50,000.

The plan was to replace one of the contestants with an attractive and outspoken blonde woman, but none of the occupants took the bait.

US televison networks have broadcast a run of reality shows in recent months, most of them based on ideas imported from Europe. Shows like Survivor - also broadcast on CBS - have been huge hits.

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See also:

07 Sep 00 | Entertainment
US Big Brother bribe fails
05 Sep 00 | Entertainment
American Big Brother sued
24 Aug 00 | Entertainment
US TV's million-dollar Survivor
12 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Reality TV overload
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