Celebrating Big Brother’s 20th birthday

BIG BROTHER SEASON 21 Logo. Photo: CBS ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
BIG BROTHER SEASON 21 Logo. Photo: CBS ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved /

Big Brother premiered 20 years ago today, September 16, 1999, in the Netherlands. Since then, the show has become a phenomenon and multiple countries worldwide now produce their own version of Big Brother.

Today marks a very special day in Big Brother history. It is the day the first Big Brother show premiered. It all started on September 16, 1999 in the Netherlands as 9 houseguests moved into the Big Brother house to vie for the grand prize.

These houseguests were locked specially constructed house located in Almere, The Netherlands. They would be given no privacy as cameras followed their every move and microphones captured their every word. At regular intervals during the game, housemates voted privately on who to nominate for eviction. Houseguests with the highest number of nominations received would face a public vote. The public would vote on who to evict and the person with the highest percentage of the vote would be evicted from the house.

Houseguests were not allowed to openly discuss nominations. They could be expelled for bad behavior. They could also choose to leave the game at any time. A 32-year-old man named Martin from Spijkenisse, The Netherlands became the first person to be evicted worldwide. 22-year-old Bart Spring in ‘t Veld from Roelofarendsveen, The Netherlands became the first Big Brother winner worldwide. He has been trying to get rid of his image ever since.

The show became an instant hit in the ratings, turning the houseguests into celebrities overnight. It sparked numerous versions of the show worldwide.

Big Brother officially arrived in the United States on July 5, 2000 as hosts Julie Chen (as she was then known) and Ian O’Malley introduced CBS viewers to the 10 men and women who would be living in the house that summer. 27-year-old politician William Collins became the first ever houseguest to be banished from the Big Brother house. 21-year-old Eddie McGee was the crowned the winner. However, the show suffered from low ratings due to poor casting. Despite this, it was renewed for a second season.

However, the Big Brother 2 was brought back with serious changes to the format. Houseguests would compete for the title of Head of Household. The Head of Household then would nominate 2 houseguests for eviction. These nominations could be discussed openly and freely amongst houseguests unlike before. Houseguests also competed for food and luxuries.

At the end of the week, one houseguest would be evicted. However, who would be evicted would be up to the houseguests, not the public. The evicted houseguests would then come back at the end of the season would come back to vote for the winner. 43-year-old mother Sheryl Braxton became the first person to ever be evicted under the new format. 28-year-old physical Will Kirby won the season, becoming a Big Brother legend in the process. The new format proved to be a success as it is still around to this day.

Big Brother 3 introduced the Power of Veto, which allowed its holder to remove one nominee from the chopping block. This would force the Head of Household to name a replacement nominee (the replacement could not be the Power of Veto holder or the person who the Power of Veto recipient). However, it was only the Silver Power of Veto. This meant if a nominee won the Power of Veto, they could not use it to save themselves.

The Golden Power of Veto (which allowed a nominee to save themselves) would be introduced later in the season. The Golden Power of Veto would become a mainstay starting with Big Brother 4. Big Brother 4 marked the first version of the show that has the exact same format as what we see today.

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Cheers to you Big Brother for 20 years! Hopefully the next 20 years are just as good as the past 20!