Tourette's 'BB' winner to make £1m from TV and record deals

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The Independent Online

Pete Bennett, the Tourette's syndrome sufferer who cursed his way to victory in the latest series of Big Brother, is set to make at least £1m from a TV series and record deal.

While other winners of the hit reality show have quickly faded from view, the 24-year-old singer is understood to be considering a string of contract offers from record companies.

His Brighton-based psychedelic rock band, Daddy Fantastic, has also been offered a television series, according to the band's management. It would be a "road-trip type show" a spokeswoman said, similar to the show which launched The Monkees in the 1960s.

She said: "He went in the house to raise the profile of the band. He also wanted to raise awareness of Tourette's and pay his mum's mortgage. We've had a load of interest from record companies. We haven't been able to sign anything ... We've been waiting for Pete to come out of the house."

An industry insider added: "The consensus is they have a couple of good songs. It's highly likely they'll get a deal. This is the break they've been looking for."

The winner's mother, Anne Stephenson, also a musician who has played the violin for Marc Almond and Siouxsie and the Banshees, brought up her son as a single parent.

"He always felt he let me down because of how he is," she said. "But he hasn't. He's my hero."

Initially Pete Bennett's inclusion in the programme was criticised, with some arguing Channel 4 was exploiting his condition for the sake of ratings. The president of the Tourette Syndrome Association, Roy Hillard, said the inclusion of Mr Bennett would have "adverse effects" and worsen his condition.

But the association now believes public perception of the condition, which causes involuntary tics and, in a few cases, involuntary swearing, has changed.

A spokeswoman said: "We cannot think of a more deserving winner. Thanks to Pete, millions of people now understand the problems that Tourette's syndrome [TS] can cause. Pete has shown that, apart from our tics, people with TS are just the same as other people - although most of us will never be as talented or as funny as he is."

PR guru Max Clifford said Mr Bennett had a window of "one or two months" in which to make the most of his exposure. He also criticised reality television in this country for failing to produce "real stars" from the programme.

"In America the winner of American Idol becomes a real, bona fide big star," he said. "Here, that doesn't happen. The only one who has had any kind of longevity is Jade Goody."

The real winners of Big Brother remain the TV companies. Initial ratings from Channel 4 said Friday's final attracted a peak audience of 8.2 million, or 45 per cent of the available audience. And with around 12 million phone votes cast the series is estimated to have made around £6m, plus £1.2m for charities.

'Big Brother' stars: Where are they now?

Winners

JADE GOODY: Despite coming only fourth in the third series of Big Brother in 2002, Jade Goody, 25, is the most successful contestant to date. She is reported to have made around £2m from regular appearances in celebrity magazines and other reality TV shows.

BRIAN DOWLING: The former air steward, 28, won the second series in 2001. He has carved out a career in television, hosting the Saturday morning show SM:TV Live for nearly two years. He also presents The Mint, a low-budget late-night quiz show on ITV - an unlikely hit.

KATE LAWLER: Won the third series in 2002 and is still in the public eye. Lawler, 26, hosted the ill-fated RI:SE breakfast TV show for 10 months until it was axed in December 2003. She appeared in Celebrity Wrestling - moved from prime time due to its appalling ratings - and is now in Love Island. She also writes for celebrity magazines and is the current Ann Summers model.

Losers

ANTHONY HUTTON: The former hairdresser and dancer, 24, won last year's series. Despite an initial flurry of media attention, his work-out DVD, based on his 1970s' dance moves, failed to sell, and he is has now reportedly returned to normal life in his home town of Consett in Durham.

NADIA ALMADA: The Portuguese transsexual, 29, won the 2004 series. She released a single which flopped, and made a guest appearance in Hollyoaks. There have been few appearances since, although she did appear in an advert for this year's series.

HELEN ADAMS AND PAUL CLARKE: The couple enthralled viewers during the second series in 2001 as their romance unfolded. Despite coming second and releasing a dance workout DVD, Helen, 28, a hairdresser from Wales, failed in a media career and has reportedly opened a hair salon in Bristol. Paul, 29, is back at his job as car designer for Ford and Jaguar. The couple recently split up after five years.

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