Big Brother will return next year on ITV2 and online

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Rylan ClarkImage source, Getty Images
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Rylan - a former host of Big Brother's Bit On The Side - has been tipped as a possible presenter

Big Brother, one of the original UK reality TV shows, will return to screens in 2023, years after being axed by both Channel 4 and later Channel 5.

The show, which launched careers of ITV presenter Alison Hammond and Radio 1 DJ Adele Roberts, will be revived by ITV2 and new streaming platform ITVX.

A promotional video aired during the Love Island series finale on Monday evening.

Officials said the famous house will return with a "contemporary new look".

The returning programme - which was originally on for 18 years - will see a cast of "carefully selected housemates from all walks of life" live together under strict surveillance for up to six weeks.

Similar to previous editions, the public will regularly vote contestants off in live evictions, as well as deciding on an overall cash prize winner.

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ITV presenter Josie Gibson won the show in 2010

"This refreshed, contemporary new series of Big Brother will contain all the familiar format points that kept viewers engaged and entertained the first time round, but with a brand new look and some additional twists that speak to today's audience," said Paul Mortimer, ITV2's reality TV chief.

"We're beyond excited to bring this iconic series to ITV2 and ITVX where it should especially engage with our younger viewers."

The series, which takes its name from the all-seeing ruler in George Orwell's novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, first appeared on Channel 4 in 2000, and was won by Liverpudlian builder Craig Phillips.

It was influential, both as a public social experiment and also in creating a new form of celebrity, with normal people prepared to have their every waking (and sleeping) moment caught on camera and broadcast to the world.

Celebrity editions aired, featuring the likes of Katie Price, Gemma Collins and Mark Owen.

Despite its early success and influence, the National TV Award-winning programme soon found itself embroiled in controversy over reports of bullying, racism, fixing, and general toxic behaviour in the house, with complaints being made to both the police and Ofcom.

The show moved to Channel 5 in 2011 but was axed in 2018 amid a ratings slump. Channel 5 controller Ben Frow later said he had no regrets over the decision and that the media landscape had become "very crowded with reality shows".

'Jumping the shark'

Speaking on the BBC Sounds Podcast, Unreal: A Critical History of Reality TV, this summer, Big Brother's creative director Philip Edgar-Jones said audiences "very clearly hated it" when producers intervened in the programme too much.

"We call it 'jumping the shark' in television, when you the hand of the producer is too overt and you feel like the show has therefore lost that sense of authenticity - that's when the audience gets more angry.

"Being authentic to the show, you create this world with its own internal logic, and you can't break that internal logic, otherwise you break the magic and you lose the trust of the audience."

At the time, Big Brother producers said they were open to "future possibilities", apparently leaving the door open for a return one day.

Irish singing duo Jedward, the identical twin brothers who twice appeared on the celebrity version of the show, have made an early bid online to host the returning series, once helmed by Davina McCall.

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'The world we live in has changed'

Speaking to ITV's This Morning on Tuesday, Big Brother's first female winner in 2002, Kate Lawler, said it was "great" news the show was set for a comeback.

"Everyone knows that music, it's iconic," she said, referring to the theme tune. "It's been away for long enough for people to remember it with real nostalgia and fondness."

She said for contestants now, an appearance on Big Brother would be an entirely different proposition - because of the dominance of social media.

"The world we live in has changed," she explained. "There was only newspapers and everybody got their reality TV gossip from newspapers and Heat magazine.

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Image caption,
Kate Lawler (right) alongside Jade Goody

"You'd go work the next day, you'd hear people talking about Big Brother on the train to work or you'd get to work and you'd all discuss it, now everyone's on WhatsApp groups talking about it there and then."

Chantelle Houghton, who appeared as a fake celebrity in the fourth series of Celebrity Big Brother in 2006, agreed, noting: "I think I was just on the cusp of it, soon after that social media really came about so I feel quite lucky in that sense."

Another former winner Anthony Hutton said he would like to see Big Brother go "back to basics".

"You don't want loads of like almost famous people," he said, "[with] loads of Instagram followers - I want to see Frank from Wigan!"

He also took the chance to suggest a tweak to the format of another reality TV show. "I would love a middle-aged Love Island," he said. "Where people aren't in shape... and everyone's not got six packs."

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