Channel 4 is reportedly planning a campaign of "dirty tricks" to ruin the ratings of Big Brother 2011 when it returns to Channel 5 later this month. According to The Independent, Channel 5 think Channel 4 are "running scared" of the hit reality series, despite axing it last summer.
Channel 5's programmes director, Jeff Ford said of the house: "This is the biggest and best set Big Brother has ever had," and suggested that Channel 4 were now regretting their decision to axe the show.
It comes after the channel scheduled the premiere of its Twilight film next Wednesday, in a bid to harm the ratings of the Celebrity Big Brother launch, expected to also air that day.
The exec, who has previously worked as Channel 4 executive, said: "Why would they put a movie premiere on Wednesday night if it wasn't to try and affect our ratings?"
Channel 5 in the end moved the launch night a day later to August 18 to avoid the clash, and Jeff insisted he's not phased by the dirty tactics: "I'm not worried about what they do because I've got Big Brother. We are casting in a different way, looking purely for people who will entertain an audience."
Speaking to the paper, the TV boss also revealed that new Channel 5 owner Richard Desmond was helping to attract bigger names to the series, thanks mainly to his £950 million bank balance: "Richard has always said to me: 'If the channel needs something and you believe in it, come and tell me. And if I believe in it as well, we'll get it.' He's very enthusiastic about the show."
But he also insisted it wasn't all about the names.
"The important thing is how the group interacts," he explained. "No one expected the George Galloway and Rula Lenska cat-licking scene.
"But I do think people will be absolutely delighted with the line-up we've got."
Celebrity Big Brother 2011 starts on August 18 on Channel 5.