Big Brother – the original and the best reality show on the planet! Where did it begin? And what has happened throughout the last 20 years?


Big Brother sees a group of Housemates move into a purpose built house, where they are watched by a number of cameras around the clock, for around three months. During their stay in the Big Brother House, the Housemates compete to win a cash prize, nominating their fellow Housemates for eviction. At the end of a week, Housemates nominated face a public vote and are evicted from the House, with the last Housemate standing becoming the winner.

The Big Brother House features all basic needs, including a lounge, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and garden. One staple in every house is The Diary Room – the only room in the house that the Housemates can communicate directly with Big Brother.

“Big Brother House, this is Davina…”

Big Brother first burst onto our screens on July 18th 2000 with the first ever series of Big Brother UK on Channel 4. Over 40,000 people applied to be a Housemate in the first ever series, 11 of who were selected to enter the house – a purpose built compound on the outskirts of Three Mills Studios in Bow, London. Viewers were able to watch 24 hour action from the Big Brother House live online throughout the series, something that would stay a staple during its run on Channel 4.

Big Brother’s first series was hit with controversy as Nick Bateman, later dubbed Nasty Nick, was caught trying to manipulate his fellow Housemates during the nominations process.

Nick, during the first series of Big Brother.

Hosted by Davina McCall, the series lasted 64 days in total, becoming popular across the country with an estimated 10 million people watching the live final, which saw Craig become the first winner.

Following the success of the first Big Brother, Channel 4 quickly commissioned a second series, leading to a yearly edition of the programme. The first ever Celebrity Big Brother aired in March 2001 in collaboration with Comic Relief, meaning this was the first and only edition to air on two channels – Channel 4 and BBC One.

Big Brother later moved to Elstree Studios, Borehamwood, for its third series, following a two year run in Bow.

Big Brother Gets Evil

Big Brother’s success continued throughout the early 2000’s and a fifth series of the format was ordered for the summer of 2004. Big Brother’s new series saw the game change and Big Brother got “Evil”. The Big Brother House was made a third smaller to the series before, with higher floors and lower ceilings. The prize fund for the series was raised to £100,000 – but Housemates were subject to fines, meaning money could be deducted from the pot.

Emma and Michelle in the bedsit, Big Brother 2004

Big Brother 5 became notoriously known due to the fight during Day 20 – known as Fight Night. Big Brother had previously fake evicted Housemates, Michelle and Emma, into a bedsit on Day 15, where they watched their fellow Housemates in secret around the clock. Emma and Michelle later re-entered the House on Day 20, which caused the infamous fight night which resulted in Emma being removed from the Big Brother House.

Big Brother continued the trend of surprises and twists in the following two series, with a secret garden in Big Brother 6 and an entire second house during Big Brother 7.

Big Brother’s Controversy

Big Brother’s seventh series launched in May 2006, later becoming known as the public’s favourite series. This series was extended to 93 days, and included more twists and surprises. Watched by 7.1 Million viewers, the launch introduced some of the most iconic housemates in Big Brother History.

Initial cast of Big Brother 2006

Big Brother 7 introduced a second House on Day 45, involving Aisleyne, a brand new group of Housemates. Later in the series, Channel 4 caused controversy when a group of ex-Housemates were voted back into the House Next Door, despite having been evicted earlier in the series. Grace, Mikey, Lea and Nikki were moved in – with Nikki being chosen by the remaining Housemates to return to the main House, making her eligible to win the prize fund.

In 2007, Celebrity Big Brother returned for its fifth series. On Wednesday 5th January, the first eleven celebrity Housemates entered the Big Brother House. On Friday 7th, a live twist which involved former Big Brother Housemate Jade Goody and her family moving into the House as Housemates, started.

Tensions between housemates Shilpa Shetty, Jade Goody, Jackie Budden, Danielle Lloyd and Jo O’Meara rose throughout the series, coming to ahead in a large argument on Day 14. The argument caused global headlines and mass controversy pursued, resulting in Jade being evicted from the Big Brother House without a live crowd, an unusual step for the series.

Celebrity Big Brother was rested in 2008 and did not return.

“Big Brother, you have been evicted…”

Following a rocky eighth and ninth series, Big Brother made it to its milestone 10th Anniversary in 2009. Big Brother kicked off on June 5th with a live launch, starting the 93 day series.

Eye logo for Big Brother 2009

Viewing figures for the tenth series of Big Brother struggled, and on August 26th 2009, Channel 4 confirmed that the reality giant would come to an end the following summer.

A final edition of Celebrity Big Brother aired in January 2010 before Big Brother’s final series on Channel 4 kicked off. In a change to the usual launch, Big Brother 11 saw 81 hopeful Housemates wait outside the house to discover if they would enter, live. The 77 day series was followed later by Ultimate Big Brother, an 18 day all star series where some of the best Big Brother Housemates re-entered the House to become the Ultimate Housemate.

On September 10th 2010, Big Brother 2 Winner, Brian Dowling, was crowned the Ultimate Housemate and was the final Housemate to leave the Big Brother House.

“When Bruv Takes Over”

In April 2011, Channel 5 announced that Big Brother would be making a comeback that summer, less than a year after its final series aired on Channel 4, starting with a celebrity edition in August, followed by a civilian run in September.