Shropshire's Big Brother hero Craig Phillips excited for show's return

Big Brother is back and contestants be warned - Shropshire's show legend Craig Phillips will be watching you.

Former Shropshire builder and Big Brother winner Craig Phillips
Former Shropshire builder and Big Brother winner Craig Phillips

ITV has announced the show will be relaunched on ITV2 and ITVX next year, and excitement is brewing among fans of the series, which was a huge hit for several years.

When the news was revealed, the Shropshire Star caught up with series one winner Craig, who is keen for the show's return, but had a few words of warning for potential contestants.

"I certainly do not regret it, but I'm glad was on the first series," he said "It's a lot different now with the pressure of social media.

"A lot of people don't realise the scrutiny you're going to come under."

Craig, a builder from Liverpool who grew up in Newport, won the hearts of the nation when he emerged victorious in 2000, donating his £70,000 winnings to friend Joanne Harris, who had Down's syndrome and needed a heart and lung transplant.

The popularity of the show continued after the roaring success of Craig's series. It ran for 11 seasons on Channel 4, and then another eight on Channel 5, before finishing in 2018. Several celebrity editions of the show also ran as viewers lapped up the rows, romances, tantrums and tears which were the inevitable by-product of house mates being cooped up together for several weeks.

Asked if he was excited about it, Craig, said: "I think I am, I've got to say. When it finished on Channel 4 after that long run I think it was time for a break. It wasn't long before it was back on Channel 5 and I think it needed a bit longer, but I think it's the right time now.

"I'm sure ITV will bring a fresh spark to it. I hope they take it back to basics like it was in the early series', rather than let it be guided too much by producers. I think that would be a bit more appealing for the viewers.

"I know they've got a younger audience from shows like Love Island, so it might look a bit different.

"I hope it goes back to day one. I remember before I went in I was speaking to the psychiatrist and he was saying it doesn't really matter who you go in with. It could be your family, your friends or complete strangers. In that environment you're always going to have these little arguments.

"I think if they do get people on who are 'publicity whores' trying to become famous, it won't do as well. I think people want to see the more normal, ordinary contestants."

On series one, Craig earned plaudits for his straight talking with "Nasty" Nick Bateman, who was caught trying to influence nominations by writing names on notes.

He was kicked out of the show and faced a lot of heat from the tabloid press and the public.

Craig believes the criticism Nick faced should serve as a warning to potential contestants thinking of putting themselves out there.

He said: "Nick was hated for it at the time, and he was only writing down names.

"People shouted names at him in the street, and he was even attacked a few times. He lives in Australia now.

"We went out there about six years ago, me and my wife Laura, and we caught up with him and had dinner. I think he's just had enough of it all."

He added: "After I was on, I would always ring Channel 4 at the end of the series and tell them to get the winner to give me a ring so I could give them advice and warn them about certain things."

However, the show does have the platform to propel contestants into the limelight for all the right reasons.

Craig has carved out a highly successful TV career since being on the show, creating thousands of DIY programmes. Most of his time is taken up nowadays with the Mr and Mrs DIY shows he does with Laura, offering tips on his YouTube channel:

He said: "I remember once I was presenting an award with Barbara Windsor. We were backstage and she was shaking. She was so nervous. She'd been in the industry for 50 years and I'd been in it for about two weeks!

"I always remember her saying TV is fantastic to be in when you don't need it. I always had the peace of mind knowing that if I'm not on TV, I can go back on the tools and get back to building."

A date for the new show has not yet been announced but, much like Big Brother, Craig said: "I'll be watching."

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