BIG BROTHER: Best Shows Ever

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22 June 2020

The format was simple, pure and real - take a bunch of very different strangers, put them together in a house, sit back and watch…

This July marks 20 years since 10 people first entered a very special house together for the summer - a summer that would change the face of reality television forever.

As we enter the final week of reminiscing with Davina and Rylan on E4, we thought we'd take a look at 12 reasons why the nation fell in love with Big Brother and why 20 years on it's still the biggest reality show of them all...

1. Davina McCall

The Mutha of Big Brother! Who doesn't love Davina? From her iconic opening lines “Viewers, you have fifteen seconds to say goodbye to the summer…”, her stellar interviews, those outfits, (who else remembers the ‘Big Mutha’ shirt?) and of course her annual house tour on launch night, speaking of launch night...

2. Event Television

In the early 2000s, before the dawn of streaming & binge watching, it was all about ‘water-cooler TV’ - those juicy shows that the whole office would be chatting about the next day and Big Brother certainly led the way. It was must-see TV from the moment each series kicked off, to every nail- biting eviction in between, right up to the big finale night! In July 2002 for example, over 10 Million viewers tuned into Channel 4 to watch Kate Lawler be crowned the winner of Series 3.

3. Ground-breaking

When we say BB changed the face of Reality TV, we mean it. Although it's a staple of the genre now, the sheer level of viewer interaction was entirely new at the time and there was something else new too... live streaming! 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, viewers could tune into E4 to watch the housemates whenever they liked.

4. Little Brother

Live Feed wasn’t the only thing that kept E4 viewers glued to their screens every year, another bold idea for reality TV at the time was spin off shows! We had Big Mouth, Big Brain, Big Ears - even Big Brother on the Couch, but the one that started it all was BBLB. Joining Dermot O’Leary each day (especially T4 Sundays - there’s a throwback!) was always such a treat. Anyone else remember Gnome Cam?

5.  Inspirational Winners

This was a show that allowed the public to embrace diversity and differences, and embrace they did.. In 2001, Brian Dowling became the first gay winner with 58% of the public vote (he's also the only person to win Big Brother twice, impressive!), 3 years later the nation crowned its first trans winner in Nadia Almada. There was also Pete Bennet, who in 2006 raised awareness for Tourette's syndrome when he was crowned winner of BB7, a year later Brian Belo became the first black winner in the show's history and in 2013, Sam Evans who struggled with 70-80% hearing loss, went onto win BB14.

 6. The Housemates

Those lovely winners only scratch the surface too, no other show has a cast as diverse and as extraordinary as Big Brother. Housemates from over the last 19 series (and 22 celeb series!) came from all walks of life, from the everyday to the truly eccentric! Cookie loving Kathreya had the whole house singing, Wolverine look-a-like Marcus fought off eviction after eviction and Chantelle Houghton proved you don’t have to be a Celebrity to win Celebrity Big Brother!

7. Romance

After BB2’s Helen and Paul, there was rarely ever a summer that went by in the house without Cupid making an appearance. Craig fell head over heels for Anthony, Pete just… fell, right down the stairs of the house before meeting Nikki, and Luke and Rebecca proved to be one of the most unlikely but loveable couples in 2008.  Not to mention Grace and Mikey from 2006 - still going strong 14 years later.

8.  Tasks

Each week housemates would take part in a task to win money for their shopping budget, and each series these tasks got better and better. Who could forget Science and Kemal’s arguing during the infamous box task? Or the time Pete and Glynn found a key to a secret hideaway during BB7’s outing in prison, and of course we have to mention BB9’s infamous electric shock task - ouch! Those shiny suits always spelt trouble ahead.

9. Twists

There were fake evictions, secret houses and even a mole at one point - each year it became harder to predict what was going to happen next, as Big Brother certainly knew how to throw a curveball or two!

10. The Big Brother House

Space age, luxury, modern living, even a circus at one point - the BB House has seen many guises over the years, each designed with the housemates in mind - for example, the smaller than usual BB5 house lowered the ceilings & made things very claustrophobic for that summer’s bunch - which brings us onto...

11. The Diary Room

One thing as iconic to BB as it’s catchy theme music and the ever-changing eye, is of course the Diary Room – the only place that housemates could escape to and come to vent to Big Brother. So many memorable moments took place in here that we’d be here all day if we were to list them all, so let’s just sum it up in 3 words... ”Who-Is-She!?”

12.  Marcus Bentley

The one and only voice of Big Brother.  When you heard those dulcet northern tones – it could only mean one thing Big Brother was back!


There you have it, 12 reasons why 20 years ago the nation fell in love with Big Brother - what a show!

We hope you enjoyed Davina & Rylan’s trip through memory lane.

And remember, Big Brother is always watching you.


If you missed any of the series you can catch up on All 4:

BB1: The One With Nasty Nick:  www.channel4.com/programmes/big-brother-best-shows-ever/on-demand/71517-001

CBB4: The One with Chantelle:  www.channel4.com/programmes/big-brother-best-shows-ever/on-demand/71517-002

BB7: The ‘Who Is She’ One:  www.channel4.com/programmes/big-brother-best-shows-ever/on-demand/71517-003

CBB6: The One with Ulrika & Verne: www.channel4.com/programmes/big-brother-best-shows-ever/on-demand/71517-004

CBB3: The ‘Yeah Jackie!’ One: www.channel4.com/programmes/big-brother-best-shows-ever/on-demand/71517-005

CBB4: The 'Would You Like Me to Be the Cat?' One www.channel4.com/programmes/big-brother-best-shows-ever/on-demand/71517-006

BB3: The One with Jade in the Rich Poor Divide www.channel4.com/programmes/big-brother-best-shows-ever/on-demand/71517-007

CBB7: The One with the Tree of Temptation: www.channel4.com/programmes/big-brother-best-shows-ever/on-demand/71517-008

BB6: The One with the Boxes Task: www.channel4.com/programmes/big-brother-best-shows-ever/on-demand/71517-009

BB2: The Blinking Brilliant One: www.channel4.com/programmes/big-brother-best-shows-ever/on-demand/71517-010


Davina McCall