Eight million watch Nadia win 'Big Brother' by record margin

Anthony Barnes,Arts,Media Correspondent
Sunday 08 August 2004 00:00 BST

She could break the golden rule for Big Brother winners according to her agent. Nadia Almada, the transsexual bank clerk who triumphed in Channel 4's Big Brother with the highest ever winning margin, is not, it is claimed, planning to sell her story to a tabloid newspaper.

The 27-year-old, who collected three times more votes than runner-up Jason Cowan, had been expected to follow the tradition of past contestants by notching up a six-figure sum for their story.

Nadia, a flamboyant chain-smoker who was rarely seen without high heels and a plunging neckline, signed a deal yesterday with showbiz agent John Noel, who will guide her career after leaving the house. Mr Noel has represented several past winners and contestants and also acts for the presenters Davina McCall and Dermot O'Leary.

But his spokeswoman said: "We've decided not to go with a tabloid. We don't want them to sensationalise [her story] and turn her into typical tabloid fodder."

No further decisions about her next steps have yet been made. "We're going to chat about what she wants to do on Monday," said the spokeswoman.

It will be seen as a kick in the teeth to the papers that have supported Nadia - who was born Jorge - from the early stages of the contest and championed her as their preferred winner.

Early estimates show an average of 8.3 million viewers tuned in to see Friday night's finale, in which Nadia collected a prize of £63,500.

Around 6.4 million votes were cast during the final week of the show - two million more than last year's washout but still down on the first three series. In 2002 there were 8.6 million votes as the contest reached its peak and Kate Lawler became the first female winner.

Nadia was the 50-1 outsider when she tottered into the house nine weeks ago, but her odds were soon slashed to position her as favourite for the past six weeks. Betting on the programme was at its highest since Big Brother began in the UK in 2000, with Ladbrokes alone taking more than £5m in bets this year.

Nadia is an unlikely national heroine. She left her native Madeira at the age of 19, a virtual outcast as her community struggled to accept her, and built a new life in Woking, Surrey, completing her sex change just nine months ago.

Her motivation for entering Big Brother was to win public approval, although she kept her past a secret from her housemates.

"I am now accepted by the public as a woman and I feel much more comfortable about myself," she said.

Julian Linley, the deputy editor of Heat magazine whose readers are devoted fans of the show, said: "Over the past couple of series it's been easy to spot the wannabes. Nadia has had a different motivation. She wanted to be accepted by the public as a woman. I think people have responded to that and they have become really interested in her."

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