'Celebrity Big Brother' hits TV screens

'Celebrity Big Brother' returns to screens tonight, with Ulrika Jonsson among those tipped to enter the house.

'Celebrity Big Brother' returns to screens tonight, with Ulrika Jonsson among those tipped to enter the house.

The Channel 4 reality show is back following the race row in 2007, although bosses have declared that the programme will not be “sanitised”.

The treatment of Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty by Jade Goody and other housemates on the programme caused a furore two years ago.

The official celebrity contestant line-up is yet to be revealed, although unconfirmed rumours of who will take part have been rife.

Names appearing of those thought to be appearing have included Liberty X’s Michelle Heaton, former Sugababe Mutya Buena, broadcaster and former presenter of 'The Word' Terry Christian, 'Austin Powers' actor Verne Troyer and soul singer La Toya Jackson.

But those behind the programme have said not all the rumours going around are accurate.

Jonsson’s eventful love life includes links to former England head coach Sven Goran Eriksson, whose previous fling Faria Alam was on the show in 2006.

The race row in 2007 attracted 45,000 complaints to Ofcom – the most in the regulator’s history.

“There’s never been a case of sanitising Big Brother,” David Williams, Channel 4 commissioning editor, said on Tuesday.

There are, however, plans for preventing scandals like the last one.

“We’ve got procedures in place so we can cope with any eventuality,” Mr Williams said.

Phil Edgar Jones – creative director of Brighter Pictures, the Endemol-owned production company behind the programme -added: “We have so many checks and balances we’ve imposed upon ourselves.”

Last year, 'Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack', was screened, but the new format, screened on digital channel E4, only attracted an average 600,000 viewers.

Former 'Celebrity Big Brother' housemate Michael Barrymore will turn roving reporter for the new series.

Barrymore will appear on the fanzine show 'Celebrity Big Brother’s Little Brother', offering his thoughts on the celebrities, as well as becoming an on-the-street reporter.

He was beaten into second place in the contest in 2006 by “fake” celebrity Chantelle Houghton.

The 11 stars lined up for this series were under strict orders to avoid excessive New Year’s Eve partying.

The creative minds behind the reality TV show hope they have conserved their energies for the programme.

Organisers have said this year’s tasks will be about life as a celebrity.

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.

:: Celebrity Big Brother launches live at 9pm tonight on Channel 4.

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