Bigbrother.co.uk used to be a security firm

Now its owner is cashing in

When Scott Brown registered the Internet domain name www.bigbrother.co.uk for £30 three years ago, he could hardly have imagined that a Channel 4 show of that name would make him rich.

When Scott Brown registered the Internet domain name www.bigbrother.co.uk for £30 three years ago, he could hardly have imagined that a Channel 4 show of that name would make him rich.

His site, designed to promote his fledgling security company, attracted fewer than 10 visitors a day and the company folded.

Mr Brown, 28, who lives in Lochwinnoch, near Glasgow, had all but forgotten his site when the Big Brother television phenomenon took off. It began receiving hundreds of visits a day from viewers and has grown to between 70,000 and 250,000 daily.

Mr Brown tried to do a deal with Channel 4 and offered to sell it his domain name for a small fee. Channel 4 refused.

Mr Brown decided to exploit the accidental popularity of the site by revamping it into a hi-tech portal, an information centre where users can receive information including news, clubbing news, music, an e-mail service, addresses and free phone numbers. There is also a link to Channel 4's website for lost surfers.

Advertising fees from such companies as Amazon.com and WH Smith are earning the owner of www.bigbrother.co.uk £10,000 to £20,000 a month. Mr Brown said: "I will be a millionaire by the time I am 30, thanks to the website and Big Brother. I realised that if I provided good content, a good e-mail service, good links and design, other free software and downloads, people would keep coming back even if they stumbled into my site by accident in the first place."

Mr Brown, who operates from a tiny bedroom in his parents' house, said his busiest day was when Nasty Nick got booted out. "The traffic went crazy," he said. "I got around 250,000 hits that night. I also got bombarded with thousands of visitors when Craig and Claire got in bed together."

Mr Brown, who trained as an engineer before taking a computing course, said he spent hundreds of hours developing and improving the site and that he gets only two hours' sleep a night. "The Big Brother shows look like running and running, so I'm on to a real winner." His next development phase involves renting an office and hiring two programmers to share the work.

As for the Big Brother programme, as opposed to the website that preceded it, Mr Brown said: "It's drivel."

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