After 18 years on television and eight years on Channel 5, Big Brother is coming to an end on 5 November.
While it may seek a new lease of life on another channel, reality TV fans may have to come to terms with life without the diary room, Marcus Bentley’s voiceover and eviction night.
But don’t despair – in honour of 18 years of tantrums, romances and all-round drama, we have caught up with some of the most memorable housemates in Big Brother history to ask how the show has changed their lives, for better or for worse.
Today, we’re speaking to the winner of Big Brother 8 and the youngest housemate be crowned victorious.
Brian Belo was just 20 years old when he entered the infamous Elstree compound back in June 2007, and on 31 August he left a winner, beating twins Sam and Amanda Merchant to the top spot. Going in as possibly one of the show’s biggest ever fans, he tells Metro.co.uk how his original Big Brother experience was a ‘dream come true’.
‘I always think Big Brother is part of my past,’ he began.
‘When I first walked into the house it was like walking into a cartoon. It feels like a home but it’s a television studio. It was hyper reality, that’s the best way I can remember it now and everyone in there was like a cartoon character as well.’
For Brian, the upside of the whole shebang was getting thrown together with a bunch of people from all walks of life, telling us what he enjoyed the most was ‘meeting new people.’
He added: ‘Getting to know what they’re about, and going off your own senses really. It was like being at university or something. There was a feeling of freshers week or something. Also it was my favourite show, so getting to do that as well.’
But with every upside comes a downside: ‘You’re completely tested all the time. You never know how long you’re going to be in there for, you could start a new week thinking “I wonder if I’m going to get nominated this week” and you spend every single week like “how long am I going to be in here.”
‘Everyone’s got their own thing what they’re worrying about. One minute someone’s your best friend and the next you’re wanting to get them out. It’s just absolutely insane.’
Brian returned to the Borehamwood bunker again in 2016 alongside former housemates Helen Wood and Nikki Grahame, but left the house on Day 43 by climbing over the wall after an explosive argument with Helen.
‘I’ve had two completely different experiences,’ Brian reflected. ‘I always think doing it again was bittersweet, but it was quite nice as well. I had more range to say what I think, not have to tread on eggshells around people as well. I was older too, I had experienced more life. My original Big Brother experience was amazing, it was a dream come true. I can’t fault it really.’
When the series moved from Channel 4 to Channel 5 in 2011 though, Brian fell out of love with the show.
‘I couldn’t watch it on Channel 5. I don’t enjoy the show that they’re currently making and I’m one of the biggest fans. If you’re not going to make it properly then stop making it.’
Some of the show’s former housemates are divided on whether Big Brother should return or not now it’s been axed from Channel 5, but not Brian. In fact, he’s over the moon that the series is ending.
‘I can’t wait for Big Brother to end,’ he told us. ‘No one there realises they’re making such bad television. It’s like, get out the studio and use your brain cells for one second.
‘I’m like “guys come on, let the show go.” People just keep on watching the same thing over and over again and it’s gone on for way too long now.’
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