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Big Names, Big Number,
Big Brothers.

BRAD Pitt, Mel Brookes and Shane Ritchie? We know how desperate some of you were to make it into this year's Big Brother house but impersonating major stars? There was even a Stephen Fry and two Sarah Greens among the applications for Big Brother 3.

The fact such names appeared reflects the incredible numbers who applied for this, the biggest and baddest Big Brother so far. A hundred and fifty thousand people requested application forms, almost three times as many as last year. And an incredible 10,000 sent in their application videos. Sadly a famous name just isn't enough to make it through the arduous selection process developed by Big Brother and even blockbuster director James Cameron had to accept defeat and head back to Hollywood. But it wasn't just the stars seeking entrance to this summer's sensation. Some woodland creatures had a pop including a Wolf and a couple of Gibbons. And as for the church - The Pope and his triumvirate of Bishops should have known better.

In the face of several truck loads of mail a day and several postmen seeking treatment for injured backs Big Brother decided to hire extra staff to work on the mountain of applications.

And as they started to work their way through the forms they quickly discovered that while thousands of women applied more than half of the applications were from boys. Age wise the largest number of hopefuls came from the 18 to 24 bracket but the over 35's put in a fair show and there were even 50 applicants from the over 45 age group.

Relationship wise the applications were dominated by singles, perhaps in search of love and romance but that didn't stop those in relationships and marriages from applying. And there was a strong and determined group of divorcees who made their presence felt.

Whittling the 10, 000 applicants down to a long-short list of 2,500 meant producers had to view a staggering 333 hours of videotape. Those short listed were then invited in for the first round of auditions where they were subjected to a rigorous round of games enabling Big Brother to reduce the list to 625.

And that was when things started to get tough. For the second round of auditions the wannabie housemates were filmed as they participated in three-hour group sessions and one to one interviews with producers. This left 120 applicants which was eventually reduced to just 80 people who were brought in for an up close and personal with Big Brother. A psychiatrist and a psychotherapist were also involved in this part of the selection process.

Now, with just days to go, there is a list of 30 people from which the final 12 housemates will be selected. What Big Brother intends to do in order to make this final, crucial selection is anyone's guess but one thing is clear - the toughest test is yet to come.

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