Why was Big Brother cancelled? Everything to know ahead of the reality show's return

Big Brother last aired in 2018 after the show was axed

Big Brother 2023 presenters AJ Odudu and Will Best
(Image credit: ITV)

As Big Brother returns to screens after a five-year hiatus, viewers are wondering why was Big Brother cancelled? 

The long-standing reality show which features a batch of carefully selected strangers become housemates when they make the TV set their home for up to six weeks.

It's like a mix of Love Island  and I'm A Celebrity - minus the exotic holiday villa, the critters and the jungle. if you're wondering when is Big Brother coming back - it's starting very soon with the launch show confirmed for 8th October at 9pm on ITV2 and ITVX.

But while fans wonder where is the Big Brother house? It's not a regular home - contestants are under constant surveillance and the footage is broadcast to millions of viewers at home. The housemates have to take part in a variety of clever tasks, nail-biting nominations and live evictions, with the public deciding who to keep in and who to send home, and the ultimate winner walking away with a cash prize.

The series is back with a brand new look, leaving viewers reminiscing about Big Brother winners of years gone by. two new hosts AJ Odudu and Will Best and we look at all you need to know about why it was axed from screens...

Why was Big Brother cancelled?

Big Brother was cancelled in 2018 by its broadcasters at the time, Channel 5, amid a ratings slump after failing to reach a deal with production company Endemol Shine. At the time, the production company considered moving channels and a statement at the time read, "Whilst disappointed not to reach an agreement with Channel 5, the decision opens up a new chapter and we are excited about future possibilities for Big Brother in the UK.”

Despite being Channel 5's biggest show, the last series was only watched by 1.2 million viewers on average - compared to its 1.9 million peak in 2013.

The company added, "The latest series of Celebrity Big Brother [was] the channel’s highest-rating show of the year, growing its audience year-on-year by 17 per cent and tripling the channel’s slot average for 16-24s."

Big Brother continues to be a global phenomenon.

“The UK is one of 20 countries where the show will air in 2018, including…last month’s Celebrity Big Brother in Germany, which saw a rise of 85 per cent series on series.”

Prior to moving to Channel 5 in 2011, the show first aired on Channel 4 on 14th July 2000. 

Former host Emma Willis made an emotional statement on Twitter at the time news broke that the show was being axed.

When was the last Big Brother UK?

The last Big Brother UK aired in November 2018 and saw Cameron Cole become winner of the final series - of which he was the programmes youngest winner aged 19. Channel 5 announced on 14th September 2018 that the 19th series would be the last on the channel, and it went on to be the last ever one until news of its 2023 reboot.

The final Celebrity series of Big Brother was on by Ryan Thomas on 10th September 2018.

When did Big Brother start in the UK?

Big Brother first started in the UK on 18th July 2000 and was broadcast on channel 4 and E4 with Davina McCall as the presenter. The winner of the first series was Craig Phillips who survived 64 days in the house. 

Meanwhile, outside of the UK, the first-ever show was broadcast in the Netherlands in 1999 before the Dutch reality competition TV franchise, created by John de Mol Jr. was syndicated internationally.

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Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)