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‘I forgot normal people existed’: Big Brother fans relieved after ‘brilliant’ UK cast unveiled

ITV2 relaunch of classic reality show has been praised for its choice of 16 contestants

Nicole Vassell
Monday 09 October 2023 11:57 BST
Big Brother housemates participate in first challenge of 2023

Viewers have praised the Big Brother production team for its casting of the housemates in its new season.

The iconic reality show returned to UK screens on Sunday (8 October) on its new home, ITV2, and with AJ Odudu and Will Best taking on hosting duties. The programme was last broadcast on British TV in 2018, after its run on Channel 5 came to a close.

So far, 16 people have entered the house to compete for the £100,000 cash prize, and have already been subjected to Big Brother’s tricks and games. (You can read The Independent’s three-star review of the launch episode here.)

On this new season, contestants come from all over the United Kingdom and represent a breadth of identities. They include Dylan, an amputee DJ from Coventry; Henry, a 25-year-old Boris Johnson fan from the Cotswolds; Farida, a 50-year-old hijab-wearing makeup artist, and Noky, a banker and former Miss Great Britain pageant queen.

Many fans of the show have praised the inclusivity of the contestants as “normal”, relatable people, with a range of occupations and backgrounds.

“I’d forgotten normal people existed thanks to Love Island, Love is Blind, Mafs [Married at First Sight], Made in Chelsea etc,” wrote one viewer on Twitter/X. “I feel like I could meet all these in a Spoons and have a vape in the smoking area w nothing but vibes [sic].”

Similarly, presenter Ellie Phillips praised the range of people on the programme, writing: “This cast is giving real world *representation* and I see no influencers.”

“A brilliant mix of backgrounds and ages!” wrote one fan. “Well done the casting team!”

People also commented on how it seemed as if the Big Brother housemates were keen to enjoy the experience, rather than taking part in the hopes of acquiring lucrative sponsorship deals after the show concludes.

“Icl [I can’t lie], it’s so refreshing seeing normal people on reality tv not thirsting for a [Pretty Little Thing] contract,” wrote one Twitter/X user.

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Big Brother contestants (ITV)

Big Brother’s diversity was also cheered for its difference to the participants often featured on Love Island, another ITV2 programme.

“I definitely think ITV has succeeded in not making the Housemates too sexy or Love Island coded!” wrote one satisfied viewer. “There’s a good, diverse mix of people from all backgrounds.”

However, there were some viewers who claimed that the programme, in its range of identities, had “gone woke”.

In response, others argued that inclusivity had always been a signature part of Big Brother’s casting process.

“People here talking about a ‘box ticking exercise’... the original show had people of all races and nationalities,” one viewer wrote. “Someone with Tourette’s. Someone blind. A trans WINNER. Whether the gammons like it or not, this is the society we live in, and always have! It’s great!”

Another person echoed this sentiment, writing: “You clearly know who is new to Big Brother by those accusing the casting of being ‘woke’.

Big Brother has always been diverse ever since it started in 2000. The British public voted four LGBTQ+ people, a Black man, a neurodivergent person, and a deaf person as winners.”

Big Brother airs nightly (excluding Saturdays) on ITV2 at 9pm.

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