Big Brother may not have officially been cancelled yet, but Channel 5 is already looking for replacement shows.
The future of the reality format is hanging in the balance after ratings for both the Celebrity and ‘civilian’ versions slid to historic lows.
Reports suggest C5 chiefs are seriously considering dropping Big Brother, and now they’re preparing back-up plans in case they do.
According to Broadcast magazine, the network is now inviting pitches for new shows that could replace BB in the event that it’s axed.
Over 110 hours of primetime slots would open up in C5’s schedules next year if the plug is pulled.
Director of programmes Ben Frow said it was “prudent” to prepare for the worst, noting that he’d want a range of shows to fill the gaps.
However, bosses are still yet to reach a final decision over a Big Brother renewal, with Endemol Shine UK stressing that negotiations are ongoing.
“We continue to be in active discussions with C5 over the price of the next Big Brother deal,” said a spokesperson for the production company.
The Daily Star recently reported that C5 is looking to drive down the amount it pays for Big Brother.
“It brings in viewers, but it's not a cheap show to make,” a source told the newspaper.
“When BB is on there's 600/700 crew who work on this behind the scenes. It costs a lot of time and money.”
The latest Celebrity Big Brother ended earlier this month, with viewers crowning drag superstar Courtney Act the winner.
However, it was the lowest rating winter series ever, averaging just 1.9million viewers - down almost 500,000 on last year.
Two more editions of Big Brother, one ‘civilian’ and one Celebrity, will air on C5 this summer before the current contract for the show expires.