The race row surrounding the last series of 'Celebrity Big Brother' will not lead to the show being “sanitised” this year, Channel 4 said today.
The show will return on Friday, after the treatment of Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty by Jade Goody and other housemates on the programme caused a furore in 2007.
“There’s never been a case of sanitising Big Brother,” David Williams, Channel 4 commissioning editor, said.
There are, however, plans for preventing scandals like the last one, which led to around 45,000 complaints.
“We’ve got procedures in place so we can cope with any eventuality,” Mr Williams said.
“If things are getting out of hand, we’ll deal with them,” added Phil Edgar Jones, creative director of Brighter Pictures, the Endemol-owned production company behind the programme.
“We have so many checks and balances we’ve imposed upon ourselves.”
The absence of comedian Russell Brand from Big Brother’s spin-off show, 'Big Mouth', may also reduce the potential for controversy.
'Big Mouth' will be presented instead by comedian Jack Whitehall, who admitted to feeling a little nervous about following in Brand’s footsteps.
“He was very good at doing it,” he said.
“But I want to make it my own, so hopefully I can do that – and there will be no prank calls,” he added, referring to the recent furore surrounding a prank call made by Brand and Jonathan Ross to actor Andrew Sachs.
Whitehall said that even he had not been told who will be in the house.
The 11 stars lined up for this series are under strict orders to avoid excessive New Year’s Eve partying before they enter the house.
The creative minds behind the reality TV show hope they will conserve their energies for the programme instead.
“They’ve been told to have rather low-key New Year celebrations,” Mr Edgar Jones said.
This year’s series aims to shine a spotlight on the world of the stars.
Big Brother creative director Sharon Powers said: “We are going to try and explore the world of celebrity a bit.
“There will be tasks that will be about life as a celebrity.”
Silly costumes have also been promised, although producers said they did not set out to humiliate the contestants.
They remained cagey about the identities of the six female and five male housemates in waiting.
Names appearing in reports of those tipped to be poised to enter the house have included presenter Ulrika Jonsson, Liberty X’s Michelle Heaton and former Sugababe Mutya Buena.
But Ms Powers said: “Not all the rumours about who is going in the house are true.”
The house remains almost the same as it was in the non-celebrity version of 'Big Brother' in the summer, with only the garden having received a makeover.
The outdoor area has been transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with carousel horses and a heated seating area.
There is also a smoking area resembling a giant ashtray.
For the more health-conscious celebrities, gym equipment has been provided in the lounge following requests from some of the housemates-in-waiting.
But they will not be given much of a special treatment, the producers said.
Their food budget will be the same as that of the non-celebrity housemates, and they will still need to earn tokens to obtain privileges such as use of the house’s hair-straighteners.
The first eviction from the house is expected to take place on January 9.