Original logo of Big Brother.
|Based on||Big Brother|
by John de Mol
|Presented by||Peter Van de Veire (2021)|
|Country of origin||Belgium (Flemish Region)|
|Original language||Flemish Dutch|
|No. of series||9|
|Original release||3 September 2000 -|
4 June 2007
|Related shows||Big Brother|
Big Brother is the Belgian version of the international reality television franchise Big Brother produced by Endemol. The show aired in Flemish Region of Belgium on Kanaal Twee and has had a total of nine seasons. There have been six regular seasons, two celebrity seasons and one all-stars season. There is an upcoming season for 2020. This will be aired on VIER and will be in cooperation with RTL5.
The first season of the show aired in 2000.
The format of Big Brother has the same format as the international Big Brother franchise. A group of complete strangers lives together in an isolated home. They have to work together to succeed in tasks but next to that they also have to nominate each other. The nominated housemates are up for eviction by the audience. Ultimately, the last housemate who leaves the house is the winner. The program introduced in Flanders as the ultimate social experiment.
The Big Brother House was built next to the buildings of broadcaster VTM at Medialaan 3 in Vilvoorde. It was built in less than 4 months, with a one-month construction vacation. Because the housemates would live in the house, there had to be a lot of administration done and there wasn't enough time. It is said the mayor of Vilvoorde, Jean-Luc Dehaene made it possible the administration was completed in time. The same building plans of the Dutch Big Brother house were used. The house was 212 m² and the garden was 240 m². Central in the house were two hidden walkways which formed a cross where the crew could film the housemates everywhere. There were 26 cameras and 60 microphones everywhere even in the toilet. Although the camera in the toilet was discussed a lot in media, it was never used in the show.
For the second season, a net covered the garden to obstruct messages from the outside thrown into the garden. An isolation room was added to the house. It was 4m² and had a chemical toilet. In the third season, the garden was completely covered with a glass ceiling. It was demolished in 2005.
The second house was built at the same location as the first one, in less than six months. The house was created as one open space surrounded by walkways for the crew and cameras. There were 60 microphones and 34 cameras. In the open space, everything was made out of glass - even the wall and the three showers. The glasshouse meant no privacy for the housemates. There was also a loft which had more luxury. The housemates had no space in the open air but a covered courtyard. The house was build so it could be easily reshaped as a television studio. This happened in July 2007 when Big Brother was scrapped and broadcaster JIMtv moved in.
Since the start of its first season in September 2000, Big Brother Belgium went through numerous changes in its concept. Here are some significant examples of the progress of modifying the rules of the original game:
Some seasons include a theme.
|Season||Name||Season premiere||Season finale|
|1||Back to Basics||September 3, 2000||December 17, 2000|
|2||Evil Big Brother||September 2, 2001||December 16, 2001|
|3||Luxury||September 1, 2002||December 15, 2002|
|4||The Twist||September 21, 2003||December 14, 2003|
|5||House of secrets||February 26, 2006||May 29, 2006|
|6||Zero privacy||March 7, 2007||June 4, 2007|
Despite the start of the first season of Big Brother in the neighbouring Netherlands, it seemed Flanders was not interested in the program. Neither VTM or VT4 wanted the program. Creator John De Mol stated there was political pressure in Flanders that blocked the program. There was a lot of controversy in Flanders about the concept and many experts - psychologists, sociologists and even politicians - shared their view. However things changed when Big Brother in the Netherlands was successful, Germany had bought its own version and other countries showed interest in their own local version. VTM and VT4 both showed interest. It was VTM who bought the format, thanks to director Eric Claeys. Since the program was so controversial and VTM was directed to families, it was decided Big Brother would be broadcast at Kanaal 2, a smaller broadcaster. In may 2000 the show launched and the final aired in September. There were only 4 months to get everything ready. A crew of 106 people was selected.
On 3 June 2000, A special show Big Brother - De Start (Big Brother - the Start) was launched after a match with the Red Devils. The special was 30 minutes and had professors like philosopher Etienne Vermeersch and scientists like astronaut Dirk Frimout discussing social isolation. There were also testimonials of top athletes and ex-prisoners. The special was a call for participants. In two days there were 7500 letters from people who wanted to participate.
Participants were screened thoroughly. They had long questionnaires, conversations with the producers, psychological tests and conversations with a psychologist. Editor-in-chief Bart Verbeelen later stated that even some participants were followed by a private detective. Since the show already made some controversy before it was even aired, the producers wanted to make sure the housemates would be mentally healthy.
On 3 September 2000, the kick-off of the first season aired and it was very successful. The daily episodes had more than 800,000 viewers on average. Every live show reached more than 1 million viewers. Big Brother was in the top 10 ratings weekly. After a call from housemate Steven Spillebeen for wax, more than 140 wax pots were thrown in the garden. Since the concept of this reality show was new, there was a lot of attention for Betty Owczarek who was often shown naked and for Bart Van Opstal & Katrijn Verlinden who were the first couple to have sex on Flanders television. Housemate Jeroen Denaeghel and other housemates experienced Stockholm syndrome where they developed sympathy for Big Brother and its house and were scared to leave the house. Housemates were instant celebrities. More than 5000 people were in the audience when Steven Spillebeen was declared the winner of the first season. The highlight of the finale reached 1,895,000 viewers. Because of the success of the program, Spillebeen had to stay the first 2 weeks undercover. Big Brother was very successful for the first season in Belgium. Not only the program had high ratings but also the official website was visited a lot. Because of the high demand for the 12 free camera's for livestreaming, the site crashed a few times. In total the camera's were more than 9 million times used for free viewing. 70.000 people visited the website daily and 4.2 million people weekly. The website had 75 million hits during the whole season. It was the most visited website in Belgium in 2000.
The first season was the launch of huge success for the Big Brother franchise in Flanders. But every season had less impact. Producers stated that only the first season was real reality television. It was completely new for the makers of the program, the audience and the housemates. Housemates in later seasons knew what to expect and often hoped for a career in entertainment rather than having a good or interesting time in the house. Editor-in-chief Bart Verbeelen also believed the producers started to experiment too quickly from the original concept and focusing more on conflicts.
Beforehand the second season were two spin-offs. The reality documentary Het leven na Big Brother (Life after Big Brother) documented the celebrity life of the housemates of the first season and a celebrity version Big Brother VIPs 1. Although Big Brother was broadcast at Kanaal 2, both spin-offs were broadcast at the bigger channel VTM. Both spin-offs were in the top 20 ratings of 2001, Big Brother VIPs 1 ranking at 9th place and with 1,161,300 viewers and Het leven na Big Brother ranking at 16th place.
13,000 people wanted to be a housemate for Big Brother 2. The second season was launched in September 2001. It started with a twist, 11 male housemates and only 1 female housemate entered the house on the opening night. In every province of Flanders, there was a Big Brother pub. And viewers could watch the housemates all the time on a pay-TV channel. The second season was still successful in the ratings, especially the live shows. The show got more criticisms. Following a party where housemates lost control after drinking alcohol, many viewers complained about the images of the kissing and suggested sex between 3 couples. The producers also censored the view of naked housemate Detlev and fellow housemate Irena who got in a large water tank. Commentators believed that night determined the whole season. It's the one thing viewers remember about the second season and the one housemate who acted properly was voted the winner at the end of the series. The finale was the 8th highest-rated show in 2001. The live shows of the second season still had more than 1 million viewers. Pay television CanalDigitaal which offered a 24/24 livestream had 20% more subscribers during the season. 
Following the criticism of season 2, the producers changed a lot for the thirth season in 2002 and even added new twists, like a mole. Housemates were selected out of 4,500 candidates. Although the producers called the season its best season to date because of its colorful housemates, the audience thought it was the most boring season. The ratings started to slip.
In 2003, Big Brother All Stars launched beforehand the fourth season. The fourth season was built around a huge twist. The original plan was the housemates were "evicted" to a secret place by housemates and the most unpopular housemates would be mass evicted halfway the season. But because without being evicted and unfriendly housemates, the Big Brother house became a hostile place. Five housemates left the house voluntarily after many conflicts and bullying. The twist had no effect because there was eventually only one unpopular housemate left. There was also criticism about animal abuse when housemates Kristof, Mathousca and John had to kill a chicken. The producers apologized and made some tasks about charity and animal welfare by the end of this season. The season was the least popular and the rating continued to drop. Daily episodes got 300,000 viewers. Caused by ongoing criticism and a change of program directors at VTM, Big Brother was axed for an undetermined time in 2004. The house was demolished.
Big Brother returned with the fifth season in 2006. A new house was built and the concept was rethought. The season was well-received. A Big Brother VIPs 2 followed. In the sixth season "Zero privacy" in 2006, the show was introduced a lie detector. During the kick-off show, housemates entered the house in pairs. Viewers complained about the boring housemates. Producers tried to spark interest by changing half of the housemates into new ones and adding two actors in the house. Ratings dropped very fast. The broadcast schedule of the live shows was also changed to reach more viewers. At the final on 4 June 2007, there was no call for future housemates. A few weeks later, the producers stated that Big Brother wouldn't be coming back for an indefinite time.
Big Brother was broadcast by KanaalTwee from season 1 to season 6. During the second season, there was a livestream 24/24 at broadcoaster CanalDigitaal. At the third and fourth seasons there were livestreams at KanaalTwee.
|1||KanaalTwee||Highlights shows (8:25 pm)||Highlights compilation (8:00 pm)||Live show (09:00 pm)|
|2||Highlights shows (8:25 pm)||Highlights compilation (8:00 pm)||Live show (09:10 pm)|
|CanalDigitaal||Live stream (24/24)|
|3||KanaalTwee||Highlights shows (8:30 pm)
Live stream (12:00 pm)
|Live stream (8:00 pm)
Live stream (12:00 pm)
|Live show (09:30 pm) |
Live stream (12:00 pm)
|4||Highlights shows (8:30 pm)
Live stream (12:00 pm)
|Live stream (8:00 pm)
Live stream (12:00 pm)
|Live show (09:30 pm) |
Live stream (12:00 pm)
|5||Live show (09:10 pm)||Highlights shows (8:30 pm)|
|6||Highlights shows (8:35 pm) 1||Live show (08:35 pm) 1||Highlights shows (8:35 pm) 1|
|Live show (08:35 pm) 1||Highlights shows (8:35 pm) 1|
|Season||Originally aired||Days||Housemates||Winner||The prize||Presenter||Co-presenter|
|First aired||Last aired||Network|
|Big Brother 1||3 September 2000||17 December 2000||Kanaal Twee||105||13||Steven Spillebeen||5.000.000||Walter Grootaers||Sandy Blanckaert|
|Big Brother 2||2 September 2001||16 December 2001||20||Ellen Dufour||5.000.000||Gerrit De Cock|
|Big Brother 3||1 September 2002||15 December 2002||14||Kelly Vandevenne||EUR 33.099|
|Big Brother 4||21 September 2003||14 December 2003||85||12||Kristof Van Camp||EUR 60.533|
|Big Brother 5||26 February 2006||29 May 2006||92||15||Kirsten Janssens||EUR 100.000||Sandrine Van Handenhove|
|Big Brother 6||7 March 2007||4 June 2007||20||Diana Ferrante||EUR 81.000||Kelly Pfaff|
|Big Brother 2021||4 January 2021||2021|| VIER
|14|| Peter Van de Veire|
Big Brother VIPs
|First aired||Last aired|
|Big Brother VIPs 1||4 April 2001||14 April 2001||11||12||Sam Gooris||No presenter|
|Big Brother VIPs 2||August 2006||September 2006||10||Pim Symoens|
|Broadcast: 10 weekly episodes starting from 12 October 2006 to 28 December 2006.|
Big Brother All Stars
|First aired||Last aired|
|Big Brother All Stars||31 August 2003||20 September 2003||21||12||Heidi Zutterman||Walter Grootaers||Gerrit De Cock|
|Season||Song (English Translation)||Performer|
|1||Leef (Live)||Mozaïek feat Walter Grootaers|
|2||Gedachten zijn vrij (My thougts are free)||Peter Vanlaet and Walter Grootaers|
|3||Ontdek jezelf (Discover yourself)||Sergio and Walter Grootaers|
|4||I wanna be||Brahim|
|6||Larger than life||Regi & Wout feat Kelly Pfaff|
There was a lot of controversy about how real Big Brother was during the first season. Nathalie Chabas was the first housemate who complained the image shown of her on the show wasn't who she really was. Producers reacted that participants can be surprised when they are confronted with images of their own behavior. Betty Owczarek often said in interviews that she was presented one-dimensional. Owczarek stated that all women were sometimes naked in the Big Brother house, but only she was shown.
Other housemates in the next seasons had the same complaints. Dominique Cardon from the second season believed the fact she did almost all the housekeeping and Kurt Willem being the house psychologist for the other housemates was never shown on purpose by the producers. Esther Blockx from the third season stated that she noticed the cameras never followed her during daily tasks. However, she heard the cameras move and zoom when she cuddled with male housemates. Many housemates believed the producers created a character for everybody and only used the matching recorded images.
Housemates from the second season believed the controversial party was encouraged by Big Brother on purpose by starving the housemates for weeks and treat them afterward with lots of alcohol. Producers admitted they did let some items lying around, making it easier or more difficult for some tasks to succeed.
Housemate Jeroen Denaeghel wrote the book Cel of Hotel: in de klauwen van Big Brother (Cel or Hotel: in Big Brother's claws) about his experiences during and after the program, based on the diary he wrote during his stay in the Big Brother. Production company Endemol was not amused and started a legal battle. Eventually a censored edition of the book was available by the end of 2001.  Housemate Ester Blockx did a guest lecture at the University of KU Leuven about her experiences.
The casting of the housemates of Big Brother was also critized. The first season had 13 housemates with no housemate having an immigrant background. The second season had its first housemate with multicultural background, Bachir Boumaâza. There was a lot of racism towards Boumaâza at the internet and there were mass votes to evict him. The producers of Big Brother reacted. After his eviction Boumaâza appeared at the program Recht van Antwoord (The Right to Defend) to talk about racism and the example he tried to set in Big Brother. In future seasons, the casting was more diverse including a housemate with dwarfism, a transgender housemate, a pregnant housemate and a housemate with HIV. Critics called it an attempt to get more viewers. Other opinions were that Big Brother made taboo's discussable. Housemate Glenn Verhoeven was one of the first openly homosexuals on television in Flanders without homosexuality being stereotyped. Kenny Van Quickelberghe of season 5 was glad he could show during the program that people with HIV can have a normal life. Professor Gust De Mirror wrote a book about it and saw the program as a interesting mirror of modern society.
The housemates of the first season got a lot of attention. They got asked for lots of acts of attendance and were shown in other programs. The effects of this newfound fame were shown in the spin-off program Het leven na Big Brother - Life after Big Brother. During the following seasons, the interest of the corresponding housemates decreased.
Many housemates got offers for posing naked. Betty Owczarek got a deal with Playboy. The edition of Owczarek was sold out everywhere in Flanders. There were talks for a second photoshoot but there wasn't an agreement made. Irena Milano was also photographed in Playboy and was even playmate that month. Also, other housemates such as Catherine Buseyne, Isabelle Bleuzé, Dominique Cardon, Esther Blockx and Jolie M'Polita went naked on the magazine Cover. The only male housemate going naked was Detlev Van den Eynde in a special Black Box of Dennis Black Magic. Liesel Pauwels went into porn with the Big Brother parody "Big House".
Nathalie Chabas, Glenn Verhoeven, Katrijn Verlinden, Bart Van Opstal and Jeroen Denaeghel as Los Papagueros from the first season and Kurt Willem from the second season released singles with divided success. It was especially Betty Owczarek from Big Brother 1 and Big Brother 2 winner Ellen Duffour who were able to start a music career. Hanz Brandt of season 3 was more successful as DJ following his participation.
Steven Spillebeen and Jeroen Denaeghel presented the program Studio Spillonimo at JIM TV. At the same broadcaster, Frank Mornar presented a game show for years. Ellen Duffour was the presenter of "Kids Top 20" at VTM. Kurt Willem was one of the presenters at the launch of digital broadcaster Ment TV. Kirsten Janssens was shown for some seasons in the reality show The Sky is the Limit.
Hannes D'Haese's artwork got more attention and Benjamin Bundervoet was shown more in media as the mascot of KAA Gent.
Big Brother was the first reality-soap in Flanders. Years after the first season it was called the mother of reality television. It would lead into new programs using real people and not only actors. Professor Gust Demeyer called Big Brother a work of art, stating it made the private life for the first time public. He wrote a book about it and saw the program as a interesting mirror of modern society.