Entertainment & Arts

Big Brother relaunch on Channel 5 attracts 5.1m viewers

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Media captionThe former Channel 4 show relaunched on Thursday with the wife of the House of Commons' speaker Sally Bercow as one of the contestants

The opening night of Channel 5's Celebrity Big Brother attracted 5.1m viewers, according to unofficial overnight figures.

But the show failed to top the network's record audience of 5.6m for an England vs Albania World Cup qualifier in 2001.

Last year 5.8m people tuned in for the series launch on Channel 4.

The new show, featuring Kerry Katona and pop duo Jedward, was met with negative reviews by British newspapers.

Included among the housemates are US actress Tara Reid and Sally Bercow - wife of the House of Commons speaker John Bercow.

The Telegraph's Michael Hogan described the line-up as "barrel-scraping".

Adam Sherwin wrote in The Independent that Channel 5 owner Richard Desmond had "failed to lure A-listers".

'Deluded and desperate'

The media mogul, who owns the Daily Star, The Express and OK! magazine, told reporters at Monday's press launch he was hoping to generate huge ratings of at least 20 million viewers.

There had been reports that US actor Charlie Sheen would be participating in the show, along with Pamela Anderson and retired boxer Mike Tyson.

"After weeks of speculation, there were a few big surprises. Mostly that there were no big stars," Jan Moir wrote in the Daily Mail.

"In a parade of increasingly inappropriate footwear, on trooped the usual torrid brew of former starlets, somebody who was married to somebody who was once a somebody, the deluded and the desperate, the nobodies and the two-headed creature known as Jedward," she added.

Jedward - otherwise known as John and Edward Grimes - became known after appearing on the X Factor. They came sixth in the competition in 2009.

Another reality TV star Amy Childs has also entered the house, along with model Bobby Sabel, picture agency boss Darryn Lyons and David Hasselhoff's ex-wife Pamela Bach Hasselhoff.

Waterloo Road actor Lucien Laviscount and Paddy Doherty, who appeared in Channel 4 show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding completed the line-up.

A Channel 5 spokesperson said Big Brother was the fourth highest rated programme in the network's history.

They added that at 2200 BST, the show had dominated Twitter with Big Brother trending eight of the top 10 topics.

The Guardian live blog, which was reacting to the show as it went out, summarised the programme by calling the housemates a "sorry bunch".

Referring to George Galloway's appearance on the show in 2006, the blogger, however, added: "I'm sure we didn't get very excited about George Galloway back in the day, but he turned out to be comedy gold.

"Surely Jedward have to be an early tip to win? They're the only ones most people will have heard of, which is tragic in itself."

Rumour mill

Mr Hogan commented in his Telegraph article that the word celebrity was often stretched to "breaking point".

He added: "Rumours of famous names had been rife in the build-up, often disseminated by Desmond's own tabloids.

"None came to fruition. The barrel-scraping cast of ten contestants had a definite whiff of last minute pull-outs and parachuted-in reserves.

"The majority are notable only for who they married or for taking part in other reality shows."

New Big Brother presenter Brian Dowling told the BBC earlier this week that Endemol and Channel Five had spent £220m on the programme.

Channel 5 bosses had said they were hopeful the show would boost ratings across the network.

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