The series saw the return of Jade Goody, who became a celebrity after appearing on the third regular series of Big Brother in 2002, arriving with her boyfriend and mother, it was the first series where family members could enter the house together.
On 16 January 2007, this series had attracted the largest ever number of public complaints to the UK broadcasting watchdog Ofcom about a Big Brother series. The complaints received detailed concerns that housemate Shilpa Shetty had been subjected to bullying. Jade Goody, Danielle Lloyd and Jo O'Meara's behaviour towards Shetty sparked widespread anger and demonstrations in India, where the alleged racism was reported on the news, and led Big Brother's main sponsor Carphone Warehouse to suspend its sponsorship of the show. As of 19 January 2007, a Channel 4 spokesman agreed that participants should be made aware of the controversy, which would probably explain the subsequent statements and apologies tendered by the housemates and their complete lack of surprise after learning about the latest eviction.
The eye logo for this series was the same yellow and black spiraled eye used for Big Brother 7. Two modifications were a black background, therefore camouflaging the black spiral in the eye, and making only the yellow spiral visible. A star also replaced the pupil to correspond with the celebrity series. The star also shone with a yellow glow.
The Carphone Warehouse remained as sponsor of the series, however due to highly publicised controversy which surrounded the series, Carphone Warehouse removed their long running association with Big Brother.
Davina McCall presented the main Channel 4 show, including the live launch, evictions, finale and any other live show where a twist would take place. Marcus Bentley narrated the nightly highlight shows.
Dermot O'Leary presented Celebrity Big Brother's Little Brother in a teatime slot weekdays and on Sunday lunchtime. He also presented Celebrity Big Brother's Big Brain, which was introduced during the previous non-celebrity series, it would not return for any subsequent series.
On E4, live coverage from the house once again dominated its daily and nightly schedule, E4 Music was once again rested during the series. Diary Room Uncut returned on Monday evenings and on Saturday night, straight after the Channel 4 show.
Russell Brand presented Celebrity Big Brother's Big Mouth, which was broadcast Sunday to Friday straight after the Channel 4 show. Although no announcement was made during the series, Brand announced his departure on 4 April 2007.
Live streaming also returned on the Official Channel 4 website and also on E4 at selected times.
The general layout of the House was largely untouched from the previous non-celebrity series. The living room and bedroom had no noticeable changes. There were several single beds in the same room, with one double bed, meaning that two housemates (Leo and Donny) had to share. The bathroom is much smaller than previous versions and the toilet and shower were no longer fitted with cameras. The dining room table was moved inside, and the kitchen fully equipped with modern conveniences. Outside the garden was a three-jet hot tub with a farmyard seating area. The bridge to Nowhere was still present, leading to a sitting area with heated seats and the topiary man. A workout area was situated just off the kitchen area. Inside the House there was also a fax machine built into the wall. On day 24 this was used to post viewers' questions to the housemates. Meanwhile, the Diary Room was identical to the previous summer's Big Brother, with an oversized gold chair and padded walls, the only change being the addition of yellow lights facing the walls.
The House Next Door was used again, and its interior was re-designed to resemble a Victorian style kitchen, with uncomfortable beds in the bedroom, for use in the master-and-servant task.
Eleven housemates entered the Celebrity Big Brother house on Day 1 followed by three more housemates on Day 3. This was more than any other celebrity series to date (the regular series in 2006 has had fourteen housemates enter on Day 1). The housemates in Celebrity Big Brother 2007 were (in alphabetical order by first name):
Carole Malone (born 14 October 1954) is a columnist for the Sunday Mirror. She starred in the 2006 series of Celebrity Fit Club, where she was captain of the winning team as well as losing 3 stone on ITV. On Day 2, Carole broke Big Brother rules by discussing nominations with Shilpa and Cleo. Carole was a servant during the Master and Servant task. She was put up for eviction after being unanimously chosen between her and Cleo by her fellow housemates to face the public vote as punishment for discussing nominations. Carole was evicted on Day 10. She has also revealed that she was born in 1954 and not 1960, as previously believed.
Cleo Rocos (born 24 July 1962 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) is a comic actress, who appeared on The Kenny Everett Television Show. Cleo has developed a maternal role in the house and tends to look after the younger housemates and do such things as cook and clean for them, which was first pointed out by Ian and Jo on Day 2. On Day 2, Cleo broke Big Brother rules by discussing nominations with Shilpa and Carole. As punishment, the rest of the housemates (except Carole but including Shilpa) were made to vote unanimously on who should face the public vote. Cleo was not chosen. Cleo was a servant during the Master and Servant task. In battle of the tribute bands, she was in Jermaine's group as a member of the Jackson 5; the group won. She was evicted on Day 24, along with Jo.
Danielle Lloyd (born 16 December 1983 in Liverpool) is an English model and former Miss Great Britain (2006), who was publicly stripped of her title for dating one of the panel judges, footballer Teddy Sheringham and posing for Playboy. Danielle was a servant during the Master and Servant task. She was accused of racist bullying towards her fellow housemate Shilpa Shetty, along with Jade Goody and Jo O'Meara. On one occasion, Lloyd said that Shetty should "fuck off home", something that Big Brother questioned her about at a later date. Danielle eventually finished fifth on the final night. Upon leaving the show, it generally seems that the public have been more forgiving of Lloyd than Goody or O'Meara, and she still regularly gets modelling work. In May 2012, Lloyd married footballer Jamie O'Hara, whom she legally changed her surname via. Twitter.
Dirk Benedict (born 1 March 1945) is an American actor, best known for playing Face in The A-Team and Starbuck in the original Battlestar Galactica. Dirk made a unique entrance to the house by arriving via (a replica of) The A-Team van, smoking a cigar and with the theme tune playing in the background. A memorable moment occurred a few minutes after he arrived in the house, when a drunk Donny said "It's Dirk fucking Benedict", to which Dirk responded "I seldom use my middle name." Dirk made no secret of his attraction to Shilpa, even saying that he would marry her in a moment, although his attention and flirting with her was light hearted and not excessive. On Day 2, a comic feel surrounded Dirk as Shilpa learned to pronounce his name. Dirk finished third on the final night.
Donny Tourette (born 19 June 1981) is the lead singer of Towers of London, a punk rock band from London. He staggered into the house in a drunken state and instantly breached Big Brother rules when his stash of alcohol was removed from his suitcase. Donny escaped from the Big Brother house on Day 3, by climbing over the garden wall in the House Next Door with the help of 'H' from Steps, saying "I'm not fucking waiting hand and foot on some fucking moron and her family", referring to Jade Goody, as he climbed over. His clothes and belongings were left in the diary room by a fellow contestant.
Ian "H" Watkins (born 8 May 1976) is a Welsh actor, dancer and a member of the pop group, Steps. He came out as gay to The Sun on the same day as he entered the house. He has said that "H" stands for "hyperactive", describing his character. On Day 26, H reached fourth place on the final night.
Jack Tweed (born 9 June 1987 in Waltham Forest, London) is Jade Goody's widower. He entered the house on 5 January 2007 as a member of Jade's family. He was a master during the Master and Servant task. Jack left school at the age of 16. He caused controversy over abusive language towards Shetty.
Jacqueline "Jackiey" Budden (born April 1958) is the mother of Jade Goody and entered the house on Day 3 as part of Jade's family. Jackiey was a master during the Master and Servant task. Jackiey caused a slight stir in the house, and upset both her daughter Jade and fellow housemates Shilpa and Ken with her demanding attitude and garrulous personality. She claimed to be unable to correctly pronounce Shilpa's name, so instead referred to her as "Princess" and "The Indian". On Day 8, Jackiey became the first housemate to be evicted from the Big Brother house in a surprise eviction; Jackiey left the house via the diary room and was unable to say goodbye to her fellow housemates. There was no crowd present at Jackiey's eviction and she left the house without any shoes. Her arm is paralysed as a result of a motorcycle accident.
Jade Goody (5 June 1981 – 22 March 2009) entered the house on Friday 5 January. Jade first rose to fame when she appeared in the third UK series of Big Brother and since then went on to have a career in the media industry. Goody was at the centre of racist bullying allegations against fellow housemate Shilpa Shetty. The Act Against Bullying charity branded her behaviour as "unforgivable". Among Jade's comments were: referring to Shetty as "Shilpa Poppadom", and "Shilpa Walla", as well as suggesting Shetty "makes [her] skin crawl". She was evicted on Day 17, Big Brother producers and Endemol had decided not to have a live crowd present nor the usual press conference to enable them to brief Jade Goody on the recent racism allegations. In August 2008, she became a contestant in the second series of the Indian version of Big Brother (called Bigg Boss); however, she was forced to leave on the second day after being told she had cancer. She died in her sleep from cervical cancer on 22 March 2009.
Jermaine Jackson (born 11 December 1954 in Gary, Indiana, US) is an American R&B singer, former member of The Jackson 5 and brother of Pop stars Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson. In the house, several housemates commented that Jackson was very shy and they therefore found it difficult to converse with him and get to know who he was. On Day 26, he finished as the runner-up, losing to his fellow housemate Shilpa Shetty. His younger sister, La Toya Jackson joined as a housemate in the later sixth celebrity series in January 2009.
Joanne "Jo" O'Meara (born 29 April 1979) was previously a member of the pop group S Club 7 and a contestant on Just the Two of Us. She also had a brief solo career before pursuing a career in dog breeding. She came in for criticism for ganging up, with Jade Goody and Danielle Lloyd, on fellow housemate Shilpa Shetty, along with allegations of racist bullying in the house. Jo had stated that she believed that Shilpa was a "mole", planted in the house to upset the game. She was evicted on Day 24 (with only 48% of the vote), along with Cleo Rocos. Since leaving the house, Jo had apparently slipped into deep depression and even thought about suicide.
Henry Kenneth Alfred "Ken" Russell (3 July 1927 – 27 November 2011) was an English director of such films as The Music Lovers, The Devils, The Boy Friend, Lisztomania, and Tommy, and at age 79 was the oldest male contestant in the programme's history. Since entering the house Ken prevented many of the other housemates from sleeping due to his excessive snoring. Danielle informed Ken of his snoring on Day 3 which led to many of the housemates pondering over a solution. On Day 5 at 14:55, he voluntarily left the house after arguing with new housemate Jade Goody and her family. He died on 27 November 2011 at the age of 84, making him the second housemate of the series to die, after Jade Goody.
Leo Sayer (born Gerard Hugh Sayer, 21 May 1948) is a singer, who had success in the 1970s with hits such as "When I Need You", "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing", "Moonlighting" and "Thunder in My Heart". Leo found it difficult to sleep on his first night in the house as he was forced to share a bed with Donny who was naked, a prospect that Leo found uncomfortable. Leo was a servant during the Master and Servant task. He reverted to mime communication and decided to take a vow of silence, much to the confusion and annoyance of other housemates. He escaped from the house by breaking open a fire door with a broom after hitting a two-way mirror on Day 10, when Big Brother refused to provide him with clean underwear. It was revealed later that he already overlooked clean underwear in his suitcase. He was up for eviction at the time and, though he did not know it, leading the poll.
Shilpa Shetty (born 8 June 1975 in Mangalore, Karnataka, India) is an award-winning Bollywood film actress, model and an active AIDS and PETA campaigner. Though her native language is Tulu, she is a fluent English speaker. During her time as a housemate, she was at the centre of the racial bullying allegations between her and fellow housemates Jade Goody, Jo O'Meara and Danielle Lloyd, which caused major outrage with the British and Indian public. On Day 26, she was voted the winner of Celebrity Big Brother 5, beating runner-up Jermaine Jackson.^Note 1 : When Jade, Jack, and Jackiey entered the house they became "masters" along with Jermaine, Ken, and Shilpa. The other eight housemates were chosen to be their "servants" and moved to the House Next Door. It was revealed that the masters are automatically nominated for eviction in which the viewers are to vote which housemates to save, rather than evicted. Therefore, the housemate with the least number of votes is evicted. Donny, who was originally a servant, left the house on Day 3. On Day 5, Ken voluntarily left after being involved in arguments with housemates. The eviction was not cancelled, and Ken's number was removed from the voting system.
^Note 2 : Carole and Cleo were banned from nominating as a punishment for discussing nominations earlier. Additionally, housemates had to choose one of them to face the public vote. They chose Carole. On Day 10, Leo escaped the house. The eviction was not cancelled, and Leo's number was removed from the voting system.
^Note 3 : The nominations were cast on Day 15 and announced on Day 16. The voting package was delayed and only shown at the end of Big Brother's Big Mouth where it was also revealed that all Channel 4's profits for this vote will go to charity.
^Note 4 : There was a double eviction on Day 24 and therefore the three or more housemates were placed up for the public vote rather than the two or more housemates. If there was not a double eviction, Dirk and Jo would have faced the public vote. The voting lines originally opened on Day 22 but were reset on Day 23 due to an error which stated that viewers were to vote to save Shilpa when they were in fact voting to evict. Viewers who had voted before the lines were reset were offered a full refund with all unclaimed money and profits from the vote being donated to charity
^Note 5 : There were no nominations in the final two days and instead the public were voting for the housemate they wanted to win rather than evict. There was a double eviction on Day 24, two days before the final.
One event in this series was a technical fault that affected voting lines in the eviction between Cleo Rocos, Dirk Benedict, Ian Watkins, Jo O'Meara and Shilpa Shetty. Everyone who voted was offered a refund. Any unclaimed money would be donated to charity.
Celebrity Big Brother's launch show (aired on 3 January 2007) averaged 7.1 million viewers, and ratings fell to 3.9 million by 7 January. Ratings quickly rose as media coverage reported alleged racism towards Shilpa Shetty from fellow female contestants; the episode that aired on 16 January saw a ratings boost with the show sharing 18% of the available audience and ratings of 4.5 million viewers, as the episode aired on 17 January was predicted to be Celebrity Big Brother's top ratings grabber. The episode the following night also rose in ratings, as 5.2 million people viewed the episode. The ratings once again rose on Jade's eviction night to an average of 7.8 million viewers and a peak of 8.8 million viewers, which were, and remain to this day, the highest viewing figures in Celebrity Big Brother's history and second for any Big Brother show after the Big Brother 3 finale, which landed a record 10 million viewers. The Big Brother 3 final night was the same night that Jade left the house for the first time back in 2002.
Celebrity Big Brother criticism focused around the treatment of housemate Shilpa Shetty by contestants Jade Goody, Jo O'Meara and Danielle Lloyd. UK media regulator Ofcom received more than 44,500 complaints – a record number for a British television programme after transmission. Channel 4 received an additional 3,000 complaints, about racism and bullying by housemates against Shetty. The Eastern Eye newspaper launched an online petition that registered over 30,000 signatures. Channel 4, who had initially described the situation as "girly rivalry", later admitted there had "undoubtedly been a cultural clash between her and three of the British females in the house".
On 14 February 2007 Shilpa Shetty said "Jade did apologize. And I've forgiven her. Anyone, who knows me, knows I forgive and forget easily." On 17 February 2007, Shilpa said that she wanted to forgive Jo O'Meara, but she and other Celebrity Big Brother contestants had difficulty contacting her. On 11 May 2007 Shilpa Shetty released her new Bollywood film, Life in a...Metro. The film had a Leicester Square premiere (the first for a Bollywood film). In the UK, Shilpa continues to work on projects, including a West End musical and perfume.
Unlike fellow housemate Jade Goody, Jo O'Meara did not donate her fees for appearing on the show (and for an interview with the Sunday Mirror) to charity, stating that her intention in taking part in the show was to pay off her mortgage debt. O'Meara has also stated that she never bullied Shilpa Shetty, and that the program showed her as a much different person than in reality and that the producers of the program exploited her. She has claimed that the media frenzy surrounding the racist depiction of the S Club 7 star has left her on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She is in an unstable mental state, and has even considered physically harming herself. In an interview with Sky News, Jo explained that she has been left feeling paranoid and that she has been prescribed drugs to return her to 'normal'. In an interview with UK breakfast television show GMTV, O'Meara stated she needed to be in a safe house as she has received death threats. In the interview, she stated how she received very little in the way of support from Big Brother. Unlike Jade Goody and Danielle Lloyd, following the controversy Jo dropped out of the limelight completely, and worked in rehabilitating rescue animals, particularly horses.Six months after leaving Celebrity Big Brother, Jo became pregnant by her long-term boyfriend, and gave birth to her first child, son Lenny, on 12 May 2008. He weighed 7 lbs 15oz.
Jade Goody received death threats after leaving the house. She took some time out of the public eye in 2007, and made attempts to return the following year. She travelled to India in August 2008, where she would be a contestant on Bigg Boss 2 – the country's version of Big Brother – where she was reunited with Shetty – the host of the show. However, Goody left the house on Day 2 after being diagnosed with cervical cancer, she died on 22 March 2009, aged 27.
Danielle Lloyd was also vilified during her time in the house, but received less of a harsh time outside of the house in comparison to O'Meara and Goody, and was prominent in the British media throughout the rest of 2007. In May 2007, she attended the premiere of Shetty's film Life in a... Metro in London, in which she and Shetty were photographed together.
On 24 May 2007, it was reported that TV watchdog Ofcom had adjudicated on the race row during the Celebrity Big Brother series following the record number of complaints. Channel 4 was found to have breached the Ofcom code of conduct. Statutory sanctions were imposed on Channel 4, obliging them to broadcast statements of Ofcom's findings on three separate occasions at the start of the new series of Big Brother in May. It was also reported that footage of an alleged racist limerick about Shilpa, devised by her antagonisers, did exist, despite previous denials by Endemol. However, the report made clear that the phrase "fucking paki" was not used by Jack Tweed as previously believed. A transcript of untransmitted footage was also released where Big Brother clearly warns some housemates that what they were saying could be regarded as racially offensive.
In August 2007, it was announced that the sixth edition of Celebrity Big Brother, which was expected to air in 2008, was cancelled as a result of the controversy. Instead it was replaced by the much less publicised spin-off Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack, which was broadcast only on E4. Celebrity Big Brother eventually returned for its sixth series in 2009.