In this week's Reunion, Sue MacGregor and guests revisit the show that transformed British television for either good or bad, depending on your point of view, when it first hit our screens in July of 2000.
Big Brother placed participants under 24-hr camera and microphone scrutiny in a "house" where they competed to avoid nomination by housemates, then eviction by public vote. Such was the media interest in this first series, the news that Nasty Nick Bateman had been thrown out featured on the front page of almost every national newspaper in the UK. By the time Series 5 arrived, the then Chancellor Gordon Brown found himself answering questions about racism in an episode of Big Brother, during a visit to India.
Throughout the eight weeks spent inside the house, contestants were not permitted to make any contact with the outside world. There were few home comforts, limitations on food, and weekly tasks and competitions. In the Diary Room, housemates were expected to privately convey their true thoughts and feelings before revealing their nominees for eviction.
The show generated a torrent of media analysis and opinion on both the psychological effects on contestants and what society now considered "entertainment".
Joining Sue MacGregor to recall the first series of Big Brother are:
Sir Peter Bazalgette who developed and produced the UK format of Big Brother and was described by critic Victor Lewis Smith as having "done more to debase television over the past decade than anyone else";
Tim Gardam, then Channel Four's Director of Programmes who commissioned Big Brother;
and some of those whose lives were changed after taking part in the first series in 2000.
Producer: Peter Curran
A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.