“I’d be much happier with a channel that did not have Big Brother on it”

Channel 5 content boss Ben Frow has raised doubts about the future of long-running reality series Big Brother.

Frow, speaking as part of the Edinburgh International TV Festival’s Leaders’ Debate session, gave the clearest indication yet that the Viacom-owned broadcaster may not renew the Endemol Shine format when its contract runs out next year.

“I love the ratings but I want to create our own programmes”
Ben Frow, Channel 5

He highlighted that 18 of C5’s 20 most successful shows were originations with Big Brother and Blind Date the only exceptions.

“I’d be much happier with a channel that did not have Big Brother on it. I love the ratings but I want to create our own programmes,” he said.

The current Big Brother contract has one year to run in the UK; the 18th series averaged 877,000 (6%) viewers in July, down on last year’s 1.2 million (6.6%).

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Frow’s comments come after C5 entertainment chief Steve Regan said that it wanted to see some “innovation” in the 18 year-old show when it airs next year.

Endemol Shine Group chief creative officer Peter Salmon also recently admitted that the John De Mol-created format faced a “few challenges” in the UK.

Speaking at an RTS event, he said: “It’s like painting the Forth Bridge. We’ve just got to get at it creatively again.”

Frow also said that the broadcaster would return to commissioning original drama.

The former C4 and TV3 exec said: “We don’t have any original drama at the moment but we will have next year. I do miss having the odd drama on Channel 5 because it consolidates better than factual programming.”

The last drama that the broadcaster commissioned was Newman Street-produced procedural Suspects, which ran for five series between 2014 and 2016.

Frow also used the session to urge the industry to broaden the people that employs to include more working class people.

“It’s not just about colour or sexuality or London, it’s about people who don’t have degrees, about working class people and they need to be invited in to television. I like to employ people who are talented and passionate and driven and creative not whether they’ve got a regional accent or not or whether they come from a rich middle class family or not.”