Big Brother is the British version of the international reality television franchise Big Brother created by producer John de Mol in 1997. The show follows a number of contestants, known as housemates, who are isolated from the outside world for an extended period of time in a custom built House. Each week, one of the housemates is evicted by a public vote, with the last housemate remaining winning a cash prize. The series takes its name from the character in George Orwell’s 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. The series premiered on 18 July 2000 on Channel 4, and immediately became a ratings hit. The series also featured a 24-hour live feed, in which fans could view inside the house at any time. Big Brother aired for eleven series on Channel 4, followed by one final special edition, Ultimate Big Brother, which ended on 10 September 2010. Following this, Channel 5 acquired the rights to the series, and it was officially relaunched on 18 August 2011. The show aired its fifteenth series in 2014, and following the finale on 15 August 2014, Willis announced that the show would be back for a sixteenth series in 2015.
The show was initially hosted by Davina McCall from its inception to its cancellation by Channel 4. Despite being offered the position of host following the show’s move to Channel 5, McCall chose not to return. Former winner Brian Dowling became the host, a position he held throughout the twelfth and thirteenth series. Emma Willis later replaced Dowling as the host of the series for the fourteenth series, then returned to host the fifteenth series also. Marcus Bentley has been the narrator of the series since it premiered in 2000. Big Brother has had numerous spin-off series occur since its premiere, most notably Celebrity Big Brother, which is a shorter version of the main series whereas the cast is composed solely of celebrities. Numerous other spin-off series that are not competition based have aired, with Dermot O’Leary, Russell Brand, George Lamb, and Emma Willis all hosting spin-offs. Over the course of its run, there have been a total of 33 series of Big Brother: 16 regular series, 15 celebrity series, and four special series.