Big Brother is a television show in which a group of people live together in a large house, isolated from the outside world but continuously watched by television cameras. Each series lasts for around three months, and there are usually fewer than 16 participants. The housemates try to win a cash prize by avoiding periodic evictions from the house.
The first Big Brother broadcast was in the Netherlands in 1999 on the Veronica TV channel. It was picked up by Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Portugal, the US, the UK, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland and Italy the following year and became a world-wide sensation. Since then it has been a prime-time hit in almost 70 countries.
The show’s name comes from George Orwell’s 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, a dystopia in which Big Brother can always spy on the inhabitants of the dictatorship he heads through their television sets, with the slogan “Big Brother is watching you.”