Big Brother to return to UK screens on Channel 5

Wed Apr 6, 2011 6:48am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - Reality TV series Big Brother will return to screens in Britain this year after Channel 5 signed a two-year deal with the hit show's production company Endemol UK.

The return of the show, which was ditched by Channel 4 last year amid falling ratings, will be marked with a celebrity version in the summer followed by a regular series.

Big Brother launched in Britain in 2000 and made celebrities out of the likes of Jade Goody and "Nasty" Nick Bateman.

It was at the center of a major broadcasting scandal in 2007, when contestant Goody was accused of racist bullying of Indian housemate Shilpa Shetty, prompting tens of thousands of complaints and dominating media headlines.

Goody was evicted in a public vote and Bollywood actress Shetty went on to win the series.

Some commentators argued Big Brother never fully recovered from the race row, after which they said it was watered down.

Others believed the show had grown stale and failed to win over the "Facebook generation" of young viewers more likely to find their entertainment on the Internet. But Tim Hincks, chief executive officer of Endemol UK, said the show, which has become a hit across the globe, remained "as potent and cutting edge as ever.

"Big Brother has a passionate and loyal fan base in the UK and I'm delighted it has found a new home on Channel 5."

Endemol UK is part of Endemol, the Dutch TV production company behind the Big Brother franchise.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)