Big Brother is back to basics but fans accuse it of 'going woke'

Big Brother is back! Returning show goes back to basics as a barman, a butcher and a Muslim make-up artist enter the house – but fans have already accused it of ‘going woke’

Big Brother has returned to British television following a five-year hiatus.

The influential social experiment, in which housemates live together in a custom-built home for weeks without access to the outside world, in a bid to win a cash prize, has re-opened its doors.

New hosts AJ Odudu and Will Best kicked off the launch show on ITV, after the reality show was axed in 2018 by Channel 5, introducing a new batch of 16 contestants in front of a studio audience.

But as a barman, butcher and a Muslim make-up artist entered the house, fans accused the show of ‘going woke’. 

Will said: ‘The OG (original) is back and if you’ve never seen it before, get ready for the greatest reality show on earth, and like all famous faces it’s had a 2023 glow-up ready for a brand new series.’

Back with a bang? Big Brother has returned to British TV following a five-year hiatus ut as a barman, butcher and a Muslim make-up artist entered , fans accused the show of ‘going woke’ (housemate Jenkin pictured)

AJ, wearing a blue catsuit, added: ‘Tonight sees the return of the most famous house in the UK, we’ve got a brand new house, shall we put some new housemates in it?

‘At the end of it there will be one contestant standing and they will win £100,000.’

Jenkin, 25, from Bridgend in Wales was the first housemate to enter.

He said: ‘I’m not the only gay in the village, I am the best one… I am the barman, cleaner, I am the bingo caller and 69 is my favourite number.’

He added: ‘I can’t help myself to be a bit of an instigator. I’ll bring the drama.’

On why he applied for the show, he said: ‘I was bored and I thought I’d do something different, give it a whirl.’

And on what he’s looking forward to most by taking part, he said: ‘I think meeting new people. I’m looking forward to it but I’m also dreading it as well because I’m like, “Oh, how is this gonna go…” but it will be fine.’

On why he’s most likely to get nominated, he said: ‘Just talking about people, I’m not gonna lie. I can’t keep secrets, I really struggle.’ 

Make-up artist Farida, 50, from Wolverhampton, was the next to enter the house.

On why she applied to be a housemate, she said: ‘I’m very proud of who I am and I feel like Asian women and Asian culture is underrepresented on TV. 

‘A lot of people think that wearing a headscarf might stop you from having opportunities, whereas for me, it’s been completely the opposite. I embrace it with confidence and it’s actually given me lots of opportunities. 

‘I want to let people know that us Muslims, we really aren’t suppressed. I’m far from suppressed – I used to be a holiday rep!’

On what she’s looking for from the experience, she continued: ‘I’m looking forward to everything honestly, I’m just going to embrace it. I believe in living for the moment and I want to remember that I’m one of thousands of applicants who made it inside the house.’

And on why she may get booted from the house by her housemates, she said: ‘People will nominate me because they feel intimidated by the fact that I’ve got potential to win this, it’s as simple as that.’ 

The influential social experiment show has opened its doors on ITV for the first time in five years after it was axed by Channel 5 in 2018 amid a ratings slump.

The launch episode saw a new cast of ‘carefully selected housemates from all walks of life’ arrive at the brand-new house in front of a studio audience.

A total of 30,000 people applied to take part in the show and just 16 were selected to enter the house.

The winner will scoop a whopping £100,000 when the series reaches its end. 

Big Brother hosts AJ Odudu and Will Best reminded fans to be kind online to the new batch of contestants ahead of the series returning to British TV screens this week.

Ahead of the launch show on Sunday evening, 35-year-old Odudu said in a video posted in Instagram: ‘Please do remember that all of our housemates are real people with their real lives.

‘If you wouldn’t say anything to them in person, please watch out what you say to them online.’

TV presenter Will, 38, said: ‘We all just want to be fair and kind to everybody, and that way we can all enjoy this series together and we can support our housemates on the show and beyond.’

AJ added: ‘Let’s make this the most positive series yet and give all of the housemates the respect that you would wish for if you were a housemate too. Is that a deal?’

The new batch of housemates have received respect and inclusion training to set out the ‘expectation for appropriate behaviour and language’ before they take part in the show, ITV has said.

As part of the broadcaster’s duty of care protocols, all housemates will be given the training to prepare them for life within the house – as well as undergoing psychological and medical assessments, background checks and a social media review.

Similar to recent series of ITV’s Love Island, housemates and their family and friends have also been asked to not post any content about the show on their individual social media accounts while they are in the house.

It comes as broadcasters’ duty of care policies have faced scrutiny following a number of controversies involving on-screen talent.

Big Brother has experienced its own fair share of controversy over the years including contestants being accused of making racist and sexist comments.

ITV has said the famous house will see the return of tasks, nominations and live evictions with the voting public playing a ‘crucial role’ through the series – before voting for the winner of the show.

AJ and Will will host Big Brother: Late & Live each night in front of a live studio audience after the show has aired, which will feature the evictees’ first live interview, as well as celebrity guest commentary and weekly nomination results.

Big Brother: Live Stream also makes its return to screens, showing footage from the all-new house into the small hours every night on ITVX after Big Brother: Late & Live.

The social experiment programme, which sees housemates live together in a custom-built home for weeks without access to the outside world in a bid to win a cash prize, started in 2000 on Channel 4 before Channel 5 took over in 2011.

Big Brother 2023: Duty of care protocols in full

Housemates must undergo a social media blackout, take part in ‘respect and inclusion training’ and will have access to one-on-one mental health support sessions before, during and after the show. 

The respect and inclusion training will set out expectations around use of language and acceptable behaviour in the House.

Before filming all Housemates have undergone psychological and medical assessments including assessments by an independent doctor, mental health professionals and information reports from each Housemate’s GP.

Housemates were also required to disclose in confidence any medical history or other information that would be relevant to their participation in Big Brother.

In addition their family and friends will be asked not to post any content on their individual social accounts for the duration of their time in the House in a social media blackout.

ITV also said that the Housemates have received information about the experience of taking part in Big Brother including the possible positive and negative implications.

The contestants also undergo a series of background checks including checks of their social media by an independent specialised service.

The show’s welfare team and other members of the editorial and production team received training in Mental Health First Aid and ‘respect and inclusion’.

ITV say the team have set out Big Brother’s expectation for appropriate behaviour and language.

Housemates are also provided with and talked through the Housemate rules which set out expectations and explain key aspects of life in the Big Brother House.

Whilst in the House mental health professionals are available to Housemates for ongoing support throughout their time in the House.

The Big Brother welfare team also support friends and family with regular contact and updates.

After leaving the Big Brother House bespoke training on dealing with social media and press will be given.

A mandatory session with mental health professional immediately after a Housemate leaves the House will also be provided.    

Further support sessions will be provided specific to a Housemate’s individual needs and support will remain in place until the mental health professional(s) have agreed an end date for each individual Housemate.

Ongoing contact by the head of welfare will continue for a period of 14 months after the series has ended, and additional help where needed will also be on offer.

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