This series caused worldwide controversy due to the actions of housemates Jade, Jo, and Danielle, who were accused of bullying and displaying racist behavior towards fellow housemate Shilpa Shetty. The public outcry caused as a result of this led to UK broadcasting committee Ofcom receiving the largest number of public complaints caused by a television show.
Celebrity Big Brother 5 was the recipient of a large amount of controversy and public complaints due do a number of incidents of racist behavior by several housemates towards Indian actress and fellow housemate Shilpa Shetty. The majority of these complaints were directed towards Jade Goody, Jo O'Meara, and Danielle Lloyd, though Jack Tweed and Jackiey Budden also received fire from the public. Among other instances were Jade referring to Shilpa as "Shilpa Fuckawallah" and "Shilpa Daroopa" and Danielle calling Shilpa a "dog" and claiming that she should "fuck off home".
By January 20 Ofcom had received 44,500 complaints from viewers about the incidents, while Channel 4 had received an additional 3000 complaints. Channel 4, which had initially referred to the events as "girlish rivalry" later admitted that bullying and racism were definitely present within the house. However, they continued to air instances of racism on the show, stating that the social dynamics of the house were a part of its narrative and viewers had the right to see events aired as accurately as possible.
In response to the controversy, a number of British political officials such as Leicester East MP Keith Vaz, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, and London mayor Ken Livingstone made statements condemning the racist behavior in the house. The Indian government stated they would take "action as required" in regards to the events. Former Chairman of Channel 4 Vanni Treves called for the station to cancel the show, despite the fact that Big Brother was Channel 4's most financially successful program. Further, several of Big Brother's sponsors and advertisers either pulled their sponsorships or cancelled their advertisement deals with the show.
Jade Goody, seen as the "frontrunner" of the racist incidents in the house, received the majority of backlash from the public. Her brand of perfume, Shh..., was pulled from store shelves and book publisher HarperCollins cancelled plans to publish the paperback version of Goody's autobiography. Jade also received a number of death threats, and no audience was present at her eviction to prevent any attacks against her.
Following the incidents Jade publicly apologized both to Shilpa and to the public for her behavior in the house. Shilpa, who had been voted the winner of that season, stated that she accepted Jade's apology and forgave her. As a result of the controversy, Channel 4 did not air another season of Celebrity Big Brother until 2009, running Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack in its place in 2008.
- Additional Housemates: On Day 3 Big Brother 3 (UK) housemate Jade Goody as well as her boyfriend Jack and mother Jackiey entered the house.
|1||3-6||The main house was transformed into the Big Brother Manor while the House Next Door was transformed into the Servant's Quarters. The housemates were told they would be split up into two groups: the Masters and the Servants. Everyone except for Jermaine, Shilpa, and Ken moved into the House Next Door to be servants, while the three masters were joined by Jade, Jack, and Jackiey. For 3 days the servants had to take it in shifts to wait hand-and-foot on the masters. If more than 3 servants failed to perform their duties the house would fail the task.||Luxury shopping budget.||Passed|
|2||11||The housemates took part in a Battle of the Tribute Bands: Jackson 5 vs. Steps. Jermaine and Ian as band leaders had to select their band members from the remaining housemates. Both bands would then have to sing and dance to a song chosen by Big Brother, with the winner being decided by the public in an online poll. The entire house would also be thrown a party themed after the winner.||Platinum discs.||Jackson 5 Won|
|A Jackson 5-themed party.||Passed|
|3||13||Housemates were required to complete a red carpet-themed assault course. If all housemates managed to complete the course in under 9 minutes they would pass the task.||Luxury shopping budget.||Failed|
|4||15||The housemates were divided into 3 groups and had 90 minutes to create a piece of modern art representing an emotion they felt while in the house.||Champagne.||Passed|
|5||17||The housemates had to use various parts of their bodies to perform a section of the William Tell Overture.||A take-out meal.||Passed|
|6||19||Housemates were instructed to prepare to make Big Brother laugh. Later on in the day each housemate was called into the Diary Room individually and given 5 minutes to make Big Brother laugh. If 5 of the 8 housemates successfully made Big Brother laugh the group would pass the challenge.||A party & highlights from the day's task.||Passed|
|7||20||The housemates were required to learn, choreograph, and perform a showgirl dance routine. If the group made more than 5 mistakes during their routine they would fail the task.||Luxury shopping budget.||Passed|
|8||21||Each housemate chose something worth £10 or less that they wanted. Each housemate would then choose another housemate to answer 5 questions about. If they answered 3 of the 5 questions correctly they would win that housemate's gift.||8 gifts for the housemates||5 Gifts Earned|
|9||22||Each housemate was given a large ice cube with a token inside. Using only their mouth and tongue they had to melt the ice cube enough to retrieve the token with their hands. If all 8 housemates retrieved their token withing 90 minutes, they would pass the task.||An après-ski party.||Passed|
|10||25||The remaining six housemates had to plan and put on four performances, each one based around one of the four weeks in the Big Brother house as well as around a different genre of film. Housemates were required to play the part of both previous and current housemates and could not play themselves.||A three-course dinner||Passed|
|Week 1||Week 2||Week 3|
|Day 3||Day 9||Day 15||Day 21||Finale|
|United Kingdom Seasons|
|Civilian||1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · Teen · 5 · Panto · 6 · 7 · 8 · 9 · 10 · 11 · Ultimate · 12 · 13 · 14 · 15 · 16 · 17 · 18 · 19|
|Celebrity||1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · Hijack · 6 · 7 · 8 · 9 · 10 · 11 · 12 · 13 · 14 · 15 · 16 · 17 · 18 · 19 · 20 · 21 · 22|
|Big Brother Seasons|