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Channel 5 is a British terrestrial television channel, and the second broadcaster of Big Brother UK.

In 2011, Channel 5 picked up the rights to Big Brother and Celebrity Big Brother from Channel 4, who had previously dropped the show in 2010.

In early 2018, rumours began to circulate that Channel 5 was considering pulling the plug on Big Brother after low ratings for Celebrity Big Brother 21 (UK)[1]. On September 14th, 2018, Channel 5 announced that it had cancelled Big Brother after an eight-year run[2]; its final episode aired on November 5th, 2018.

Association with Big Brother[]

Big Brother UK[]

In July 2010, Channel 5 was acquired by Northern & Shell, the media business owned by publishing mogul Richard Desmond. Desmond quickly named Big Brother as one of the programmes he wanted to commission[3]. Negotiations between the broadcaster and production company Endemol began shortly before Big Brother ended on Channel 4[4] and lasted several months, reportedly breaking down on at least one occasion[5].

On April 6th, 2011, Channel 5 finally announced that it had signed a two-year deal to become the new home of Big Brother UK (BBUK)[6]. On July 22nd, 2011, it was announced that Brian Dowling would replace Davina McCall as the face of the show[7], hosting the live launch, eviction and final episodes. Emma Willis was later confirmed as the presenter of a new spin-off show, Big Brother's Bit On The Side, with Alice Levine and Jamie East as her co-hosts.

One of Channel 5's major changes to BBUK saw it sideline the live feeds, which are considered a core feature of the format. The broadcaster permanently discontinued 24-hour feeds, and has also used feeds to a lesser extent on its main channels; streaming only tends to be shown in hour or half-hour long slots after live shows.

Big Brother UK 2011 Eye

Channel 5's Big Brother UK eye logo and template

Another change saw bosses replace Daniel Eatock's famous eye logo template with a new, simpler design, which has since been copied by several other versions of Big Brother around the world, most notably the Australian version.

Big Brother 12, Channel 5's first regular series of BBUK, began airing in September 2011. The following year, the show returned to its traditional summer schedule, with launches taking place in early June.

On April 3rd, 2012, Channel 5 announced that it had renewed its deal with Endemol for a further two years, keeping Big Brother on air until the end of 2014[8].

In late 2012, Channel 5 hired a new director of programming, Ben Frow. One of his first major decisions was to promote Willis, who in April 2013 was confirmed as BBUK's new main presenter[9]. She also continued to host Bit On The Side, with Rylan Clark-Neal and AJ Odudu replacing Levine and East. Brian left the show, although his exit came as a surprise, as he was thought to have had a year left on his contract. According to reports, he was paid £100,000 in compensation[10].

In May 2014, it was announced that American media giant Viacom would take over Channel 5. Following scrutiny from competition authorities, the acquisition was finalised in September 2014[11]. This created a period of uncertainty for BBUK, as Viacom conducted a review of Channel 5's business when negotiations to renew the show were supposed to be taking place.

Despite the expiry of the previous deal, BBUK returned the next year as normal. The three series broadcast in 2015 were not part of any publicly announced deal; it is unclear when an agreement was reached to produce them.

On March 19th, 2015, Channel 5 finally announced that it had renewed its deal with Endemol for a further three years[12], beginning in 2016 with Celebrity Big Brother 17.

BBUK suffered a severe ratings drop in 2017, when Big Brother 18 became the first series ever to average below a million viewers in overnight ratings. This triggered speculation that Channel 5 could drop the show.

On April 26th, 2018, Frow publicly stated that Big Brother would not continue on Channel 5 "in its current form"[13].

Speaking at the annual Edinburgh Television Festival on August 24th, 2018, Frow admitted he was planning "a year without Big Brother" for 2019[14], but insisted he'd "never say never" to recommissioning the show.

On September 14th, 2018, Channel 5 finally confirmed its decision to cancel both the normal and Celebrity versions of BBUK[2]. The news was announced just hours before the launch night of Big Brother 19, which as a result became the broadcaster's final series.

A statement read: "The forthcoming series of Big Brother will be the last – of either celebrity or civilian versions – on Channel 5. We’d like to thank Endemol and all of the production team who have worked tirelessly to make the show a success."

Channel 5's last episode of Big Brother, the BB19 final, aired on November 5th, 2018.

Celebrity Big Brother UK[]

Channel 5 secured the rights to Celebrity Big Brother alongside the normal version. Celebrity Big Brother 8 was the very first series of BBUK to air on Channel 5, in August 2011. Its launch episode attracted a consolidated average of 5.27million viewers, making it the channel's most watched commissioned programme of all time, and its fourth most-watched broadcast overall.

Since 2012, Channel 5 has aired two series of Celebrity Big Brother annually; one in January, and the other in summer. As a result of this, in 2017, the amount of Celebrity series of BBUK overtook the amount of regular series for the first time.

The summer series of CBB usually begins shortly after the normal version; the gap between the two usually lasts just a few days, but in 2015, it lasted over a month. The only exceptions came in 2011 and 2018, when the summer CBB aired before the normal version.


  • Shortly before BBUK launched on Channel 5 in 2011, the broadcaster aired 'There's Something About Josie', a three-part reality show staring Big Brother 11 housemates Josie Gibson and John James Parton.
  • In 2016, Bit On The Side presenter Rylan Clark-Neal landed his own Channel 5 late-night chat show, 'Up Late With Rylan', made by the same production company as Big Brother. The show ran for one series.



  1. Big Brother and Celebrity Big Brother fans are horrified at the thought of the show being cancelled this year. Digital Spy (21 January 2018). Retrieved on 15 May 2018.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Big Brother and Celebrity Big Brother axed by Channel 5. Sky News (14 September 2018). Retrieved on 15 November 2018.
  3. Richard Desmond wants X Factor and Big Brother for channel Five. Telegraph (24 July 2010). Retrieved on 15 May 2018.
  4. Richard Desmond in talks to buy Big Brother for Channel 5. The Guardian (25 August 2010). Retrieved on 15 May 2018.
  5. Big Brother talks stall between Channel 5 and Endemol UK. The Guardian (29 September 2010). Retrieved on 15 May 2018.
  6. Big Brother to return to UK screens on Channel 5. Reuters (6 April 2011). Retrieved on 15 May 2018.
  7. Brian Dowling is to host the new series of Big Brother. BBC (22 July 2011). Retrieved on 15 May 2018.
  8. Big Brother to stay on Channel 5 for two more years. Digital Spy (3 April 2012). Retrieved on 15 May 2018.
  9. 'Big Brother': Emma Willis Replaces Brian Dowling As Host. Huffington Post UK (2 April 2013). Retrieved on 13 May 2018.
  10. Big Brother 2013: Brian Dowling furious over axe (but he will get £100k pay off). Tellymix (3 April 2013). Retrieved on 13 May 2018.
  11. Viacom Closes $725 Million Acquisition of U.K.'s Channel 5. The Hollywood Reporter (10 September 2014). Retrieved on 15 May 2018.
  12. U.K.’s Channel 5 Extends ‘Big Brother’ Deal for Three Years. Variety (19 March 2015). Retrieved on 15 May 2018.
  13. Big Brother will not return 'in it's current form' if show stays on Channel 5. Evening Standard (27 April 2018). Retrieved on 15 May 2018.
  14. Channel 5 'planning for a year without Big Brother' as series flops. The Guardian (24 August 2018). Retrieved on 15 November 2018.

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