Big Brother UK Controversies: The Reality TV Moments We'll Never Forget

Over the span of 18 years and 253 housemates, the reality show Big Brother became a cultural phenomenon in the United Kingdom, catapulting its contestants into stardom, generating unforgettable moments, and sparking critical conversations on subjects ranging from racism and sexism to sexuality. Debuting on Channel 4 in 2000, it instantaneously etched itself into the annals of television history as a ratings sensation. However it has always been synonymous with controversy. Here are some of the most unforgettable Big Brother (UK) moments.

🍿 Hello! If you're a big fan of TV Shows, Films and Pop Culture, take a moment to browse the January Media Shop where you'll find gifts, t-shirts, totes, candles and more. Click here to browse our collection.

Over the span of 18 years and 253 housemates, the reality show Big Brother became a cultural phenomenon in the United Kingdom, catapulting its contestants into stardom, generating unforgettable moments, and sparking critical conversations on subjects ranging from racism and sexism to sexuality.

Big Brother granted fans the rare privilege of a 24-hour live feed, offering unfiltered access to the house's daily life. Regular diary room visits were a housemate's confessional, providing a platform to voice thoughts, feelings, and strategies.

Debuting on Channel 4 in 2000, it instantaneously etched itself into the annals of television history as a ratings sensation. However it has always been synonymous with controversy. 

With a diverse mix of personalities cooped up together under the unblinking eye of the camera, it's no wonder this iconic show has amassed a huge list of scandals over its 23-year history.

Here are some of the most unforgettable Big Brother (UK) moments.

Denise Welch Exposing Karissa Shannon

One memorable moment comes from Denise Welch, yes Matty Healy's mum and a Loose Women panellist. In 2012, she pulled down the trousers of Playboy employee Karissa Shannon. Karissa threatened legal action against the show, adamant that her exposed derriere would grace the TV screens worldwide. She said, "I'm not cool with that, so I'm going to sue you guys" Glamour model Nicola McLean was quick to join the fray, asserting, "I genuinely believe if a man had done that, he would have been kicked out."

Which David Is Dead?

In one of the most unforgettable moments in Big Brother history, a case of mistaken identity played out in 2016. The world was mourning the loss of the iconic David Bowie, and inside the Big Brother house, contestant Angie, who was David Bowie's ex-wife and the mother of his child, received the heartbreaking news of his passing.

Meanwhile, American producer David Gest was bedridden due to illness, setting the stage for this bizarre incident. Angie returned to the house, her face marked with a mix of grief and shock, and she confided in Tiffany Pollard, sharing the ambiguous news that David had passed away.

However, what followed was nothing short of astonishing. Tiffany, overwhelmed by the news, couldn't contain her emotions. She broke down and, instead of keeping the secret, she shared it with her fellow housemates. The result was an absolute frenzy of confusion and chaos within the Big Brother house. This unforgettable episode serves as a testament to the unpredictable nature of reality television.

Jade Goody’s Racist Comments

In a shocking turn of events in the world of Big Brother, a major controversy erupted during Celebrity Big Brother in 2007. The spotlight fell on one of the show's biggest stars, Jade Goody, alongside fellow contestants Danielle Lloyd, a Miss England model, and Jo O'Meara of S Club fame. The trio faced allegations of racist bullying directed at Bollywood sensation Shilpa Shetty.

The fallout from this explosive saga made headlines worldwide, sparking global news scandals. In India, the situation escalated to such an extent that people took to the streets, burning effigies of Jade in protest.

Amidst the uproar, Jade Goody, a 25-year-old reality TV sensation, was evicted from the Celebrity Big Brother house. However, her departure was far from typical. Channel 4 made the unprecedented decision to forgo the usual crowd cheers or boos, meeting her exit with silence instead. An astounding 82 percent of viewers had cast their votes to remove her from the show.

George Galloway Is A Cat

George Galloway, the former Member of Parliament and founder of the Workers Party of Britain made an appearance on the fourth series of Celebrity Big Brother in 2006. However, it was his rather peculiar antics that caught everyone's attention.

During his time on the show, this seasoned politician engaged in a rather unusual moment. He playfully pretended to be a cat, indulging in a bit of milk by lapping it up from the cupped hands of his fellow contestant, actress Rula Lenska.

Fast forward six years, and he found himself still explaining this quirky incident. In an article for The Independent, he defended his actions, asserting that these antics were simply in the same spirit as those BBC presenters and celebrities often undertake for charitable causes, such as Children in Need. 

Emily Parr Is Removed At 3AM For Racially Offensive Word

Contestant Emily Parr was removed from the Big Brother house in the early hours of this the morning after using a racially offensive word to a fellow housemate. Emily was dancing with fellow contestants Charley and Nicky in the living room of the Big Brother house when she said the N word. Emily was called to the Diary Room at approximately 03.30 am to be informed of the decision and was removed from the house immediately without further contact with other contestants. This incident sparked discussions and debates about racism and offensive language on reality TV shows, highlighting the responsibilities of both contestants and producers in managing such issues.

Cameron Cole Comes Out

Cameron Cole, who was just 19 years old at the time, achieved a significant milestone by emerging as the victor of the last season of the series before its discontinuation. However, his most enduring and heartwarming legacy on the show will forever be tied to the moment he bravely came out as gay. This pivotal revelation was met with an outpouring of warmth and support from both his fellow contestants and the viewers. In a world where reality TV often thrives on drama, Cameron's coming-out became a tender and poignant moment, highlighting the potential for genuine connections and understanding in the midst of the reality TV spectacle. His victory in the final series of "Big Brother" in the UK solidified his place in the show's history.

Pete Burns’ Controversial Monkey Coat

Pete Burns, a member of the English pop band Dead or Alive known for their hit track "You Spin Me Round," caused a stir during his time in the house. He donned a distinctive gorilla fur coat, which unexpectedly caught the attention of the police. In an apprehensive move, they took him into custody, suspecting that the coat might have violated the law.

However, in a fortunate turn of events, the coat was later absolved of all charges. A spokesperson from Hertfordshire police, during that period, stated, "Hertfordshire constabulary will take proactive measures to investigate any allegation of criminal activity." 

Ultimately, it was determined that the coat was made from Colobus monkey fur, which was revealed to be legal to possess but not to import. This clarification led to Pete Burns' joyful reunion with his unique and furry coat.

Vanessa Feltz’s Outburst

A mere three days into her appearance on Celebrity Big Brother back in 2001, the British television personality Vanessa Feltz appeared to be buckling under the pressure. She resorted to scribbling on the dining room table with chalk and letting out a vehement expletive: "F**k off."

Reflecting on her experience at the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival later that year, Feltz candidly shared her revelation, saying, "It was a moment of blinding clarity when I suddenly grasped that there was no actual Big Brother. It was all orchestrated by a researcher." In a light-hearted twist, she humorously recreated the iconic scene during a period of lockdown, bringing a touch of nostalgia and humor to her fans.

Lisa Appleton Gets Engaged

In the ninth season of the show, a heartwarming moment unfolded as Lisa Appleton entered the Big Brother house alongside her boyfriend, Mario Marconi. However, they left the house not just as a couple but as fiancés, thanks to Mario's successful and touching proposal. In a scene reminiscent of the iconic movie "Love Actually," Mario stood on a heart-shaped plinth in the garden, dressed in black tie. He held up signs, expressing his desire to marry Appleton. It was undeniably a very sweet and romantic gesture.

Alison Hammond Started Out In Big Brother

Alison Hammond's success today is so remarkable that many viewers may not recall her earlier appearance in the third series of the show back in 2002. It's worth noting that she was the second housemate to be evicted, a bit of a disappointment considering Hammond's vibrant and captivating personality. However, her journey took an immediate turn for the better as she swiftly transitioned into a career as a presenter and reporter for ITV's "This Morning."

Roxanne Pallet Claims She Was Hit On Purpose

Roxanne Pallett, known for her role in "Emmerdale," created a major controversy when she claimed that Ryan Thomas, a "Coronation Street" actor, had intentionally struck her during a playful fake punch. 

Pallett made headlines by entering the diary room and alleging that Ryan Thomas had punched her "like a boxer would punch a bag." However, upon reviewing the footage, it was evident that there was no such altercation; it appeared to be a playful spar. Thomas received a formal warning, which he accepted, but Pallett didn't cease her accusations. This incident spiraled into a growing drama, sparking national discussions about violence and allegations. Despite the incident, Ryan went on to win that season. 

In 2018, this incident became the second most complained-about interaction by Ofcom, trailing only behind the infamous one involving Jade Goody and Shilpa Shetty.

Nikki Grahame’s Who Is She?

Nikki Grahame, a contestant on the seventh series of Big Brother, and was known for her temper tantrums, dramatic outbursts in the Diary Room (like the unforgettable "Who Is She?!"), and a romance with fellow housemate Pete Bennett that garnered significant support from a large portion of the nation at that time.

Grahame's lifelong battle with anorexia raised questions among some viewers about why she had been allowed to participate in the show, knowing that she would face intense scrutiny. Grahame herself admitted in her autobiography that she intentionally withheld her diagnoses and psychiatric history from the Big Brother team, and only admitted the truth when she was already in the House and struggling

Sadly, she passed away in 2021 due to the effects of the disease.

Christopher Biggins Was Removed Due To Offensive Comments

Christopher Biggins was a contestant on "Celebrity Big Brother" in 2016. During his time on the show, he was removed from the house by producers. The reasons for his removal included inappropriate comments regarding HIV and AIDS, as well as making offensive remarks related to bisexuality. Additionally, he made some anti-Semitic comments directed at fellow housemate Katie Waissel, who was a contestant on "The X Factor."

Biggins' comments were deemed offensive and inappropriate by the show's producers, and they made the decision to remove him from the "Celebrity Big Brother" house as a result. His removal from the show generated significant media attention and discussions regarding the appropriateness of certain comments made by contestants on reality TV shows.

Gemma Collins Chose Hair

Gemma Collins, a reality TV personality best known for her appearances on "The Only Way Is Essex" (TOWIE), participated in "Celebrity Big Brother" in 2016. Her time on the show was marked by a few notable incidents and controversies. Collins faced challenges inside the house, which included her expressing difficulty with the living conditions, such as the lack of makeup, hairstyling tools, and general comforts she was accustomed to. So when she was offered a prize of a professional blow dry in the house, she took it at the cost of the rest of the house having their hot water turned off.

Donny Tourette Escapes

Donny Tourette from the punk band Towers of London decided he was fed up with Big Brother quite quickly. After just two days inside, the musician had had enough. He scaled the fence with the help of H from Steps and left the show.

Introducing Nasty Nick

Nicholas Bateman, a former London broker, entered the first season of the show and quickly gained notoriety as "Nasty Nick" in the British tabloids due to accusations of his duplicitous behavior. His time on the show took a dramatic turn when producers decided to intervene after discovering his two-faced tactics. 

Producers of the show tipped off the contestants about his devious actions, leading to a confrontation with the other housemates. It was revealed that Nick had been attempting to influence the votes by passing notes during the weekly eviction process, a direct violation of Big Brother rules. As a result, he was asked to leave the house by the show's producers, marking the end of his controversial journey on the show.

No Naked Jacuzzi-ness

During the fifth series in 2004, Big Brother introduced a secret plot that added an unexpected twist to the show. Two housemates were selected to relocate to a separate house, commonly referred to as the "bedsit." Meanwhile, the remaining housemates were led to believe that these two individuals had been evicted from the show.

Within the confines of the bedsit, one of the relocated housemates, Michelle, watched in disbelief as her fellow housemates discussed the idea of enjoying a naked soak in the jacuzzi. Fearing that her romantic interest, Stu, might take part in this daring endeavor, Michelle famously exclaimed, "No naked jacuzzi-ness."

Jeremy Jackson Exposed Chloe Goodman

In January 2015, Celebrity Big Brother witnessed the unexpected departure of former Baywatch star Jeremy Jackson. His eviction from the show was swiftly followed by a police caution, and the reason behind this incident was quite disturbing.

While under the influence of alcohol, Jeremy Jackson was involved in a troubling incident. He inappropriately pulled open the dressing gown of glamour model Chloe Goodman. This incident occurred as Chloe had followed Jackson to the restroom, where he had gone to deal with a bout of nausea. However, when Chloe emerged in tears from the restroom, it was evident that the situation had taken an alarming turn.

Ken Morley Made Disrespectful Remarks

Ken Morley was ejected from Celebrity Big Brother in 2015 for making a series of offensive and inappropriate comments during his time on the show. The remarks he made were deemed to be racist and sexist, which led to his removal from the program. His behaviour violated the show's code of conduct, which emphasises the importance of respecting fellow housemates and adhering to appropriate conduct standards. Consequently, Ken Morley's actions were considered unacceptable, and he was asked to leave the Big Brother house.

Kim Woodburn’s Explosive Arguments

Television presenter Kim Woodburn was escorted out of the Celebrity Big Brother house by security following a heated argument with multiple housemates. Woodburn, known as one half of the cleaning duo Kim and Aggie, engaged in a dispute with former professional footballer Jamie O’Hara and glamour model Nicola McLean. During her removal, the host of "How Clean Is Your House?" labelled O’Hara as an “adulterer” and referred to her fellow housemates as "chinless wonders."

Winner Brian Belo Claimed ITV Stole His Idea

In 2007, Brian Belo clinched the victory in the eighth series of the renowned reality show, earning popularity among both housemates and viewers. However, in the years following his appearance on the series, a new reality show called "The Only Way is Essex" was introduced. 

Brian Belo alleged that ITV and Lime Pictures had plagiarized his concept. He contended that they had adapted and reproduced a portion of the format he had initially developed with Sassy Films and Massive TV. Along with his collaborators, they presented the concept to Lime Pictures in March and July 2009 and subsequently sent a tape and treatment to ITV in November 2009. The show then premiered on ITV2 in 2010. 

In 2013, Brian reached a settlement with ITV and Lime Pictures after pursuing legal action against them. Although this incident didn't occur within the confines of the Big Brother house, but it remains an iconic moment in reality TV history.

Makosi Musambasi’s Pregnancy Test

In the somewhat risqué atmosphere that developed between Zimbabwean socialite Musambasi Makosi and Anthony Hutton during the sixth series of Big Brother in 2005, things took an unexpected turn when Musambasi began to worry about a potential pregnancy. This dramatic moment left viewers stunned as she made an unprecedented request. Musambasi entered the Diary Room and asked for a pregnancy test shortly after their intimate encounter.

Kinga Did What With A Wine Bottle?

Kinga Karolczak, a Big Brother housemate from series six, allegedly engaged in a rather surprising act involving a wine bottle that left her fellow contestants from that season absolutely flabbergasted. Kinga shocked viewers in 2005 after getting up close and personal with a bottle of wine. The star entered the Big Brother house halfway through the sixth series and is alleged to have pleasured herself with a bottle of wine in the garden, in front of her house mates. Kinga and fellow housemate Kemal Shahin were in a relationship for six months after the show.

Season 7 Had A Mental Health Crisis

During series seven of Big Brother, a contestant named Shahbaz Chauhdry made a dramatic exit from the Channel 4 television show in under a week. The 37-year-old from Glasgow raised serious concerns as he had reportedly threatened to take his own life during his brief five days in the house. He expressed to his fellow housemates, "I am a dead man walking. This is my last curtain call." The situation prompted the show's psychologists to closely monitor his well-being.

From heated controversies to heartwarming gestures, Big Brother UK has showcased the many facets of human behaviour in the confined space of a house. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, Big Brother does show the power of reality television, leaving an indelible mark on the memories of viewers who tuned in year after year. 

While the heyday of Big Brother ended in the early 2000s, the controversies and memorable moments will forever be etched in the annals of television history.

Big Brother Controversies - Big Brother UK Controversies: The Reality TV Moments We'll Never Forget

Thanks for reading "Big Brother UK Controversies: The Reality TV Moments We'll Never Forget" on January Media.

You'll Like These