Desmond: No humiliation on Celebrity Big Brother
Channel 5 boss puts new series of Celebrity Big Brother at centre of channel’s strategy, promises clean fun
The return to British TV screens of Big Brother - ditched by Channel 4 last year because of its sagging ratings - threatens to be a major disappointment after Channel 5 owner Richard Desmond promised that the celebrity version of the show will not "degrade or humiliate people".
Contrary to what most people might expect from the owner of tabloids such as the Daily Star and a suite of porn channels, Desmond has decreed that the glass around the shower cubicle will be "more frosted" than before, according to the Times.
When Channel 4 first broadcast the non-celebrity version of the show in 2001, it was billed as a social experiment. But according to second series winner Brian Dowling, who will replace Davina McCall as the presenter, those days are long gone. "The walls and the barbed wire have come down," he told the Guardian. "There aren't any chickens. It's a prime-time entertainment show."
The "prime-time" line-up for Celebrity Big Brother, which will be swiftly followed by a gruelling three-month-long regular Big Brother, is still unknown, but possible contestants include recovering drug addict and former Atomic Kitten Kerry Katona, The Only Way is Essex 'star' Amy Childs, and wife of the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sally Bercow.
Channel 4 ditched the programme after its 11th series attracted just half the number of viewers it had during its peak, prompting Desmond to snap it up as a flagship show to boost ratings on Channel 5, which he acquired last year. Channel 5's director of programmes, Jeff Ford, has stuck by the decision, saying that Big Brother is "arguably the best-known TV format in the world". ·