×

Brit ‘Brother’ stirs up buzz as cheater axed

'Nasty Nick's' demise brings big auds and bigger smiles

LONDON — As “Big Brother” struggles to catch fire in the U.S., the U.K. version of the reality TV show ignited a blaze of viewer and media interest that became an inferno Wednesday when the most notorious contestant was expelled for cheating.

Dubbed “Nasty Nick” by the tabloids, stockbroker Nick Bateman, 33, has been described as the most hated man on British TV after his unscrupulous, back-stabbing tactics, unnoticed by the other contestants, became obvious to the viewing nation.

In his determination to win the £70,000 ($105,000) prize by outlasting all of the other contestants in the house, Nick broke many of the show’s rules.

Night after night he initiated secret discussions about tactical voting, and he is known to have smuggled a pen and paper into the house to plot out his strategy. Rumors that he had also brought in a cell phone to hear about public response to the show remain unsubstantiated.

He was finally caught in the early hours of Thursday when other contestants realized that he had been deceiving them and ganged up on him.

Those viewing on the live 24-hour Webcams, which have given the show its most notable conceptual hook, were shocked by the ensuing confrontation, but could not watch it continue when one of the show’s online producers pressed a panic button.

All images and sound were suddenly turned off, and the Webcams remained offline for two hours.

After a prolonged group discussion the following afternoon, it was decided that Nick should leave immediately.

Water-cooler win

The format has been phenomenally successful in the U.K., regularly receiving 3.5 million viewers in its evening slots. Many put this largely down to Nick, whose villainy provoked exactly the kind of “water cooler” discussions for which producer Endemol had been hoping.

It also sparked a national campaign, headed by the Sun newspaper, to have him evicted in the conventional way.

But in spite of the public outcry, his tactics worked so well inside the house that he had not received a single nomination to be thrown out by fellow contestants in the five weeks the show has been running.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Ballers HBO

    'Ballers' to End After Season 5 on HBO

    “Ballers” is coming to an end after five seasons on HBO. Star and executive producer Dwayne Johnson confirmed the news via an emotional Instagram video. “My heart is full of gratitude to all of you for rocking with us every season. You made us HBO’s highest rated comedy for years and most importantly, you helped [...]

  • Sublime Primetime

    How Emmy-Nominated Writers’ Rooms Keep Politics in Mind

    In a world filled with elections, social movements and national tragedies, how open should the doors of a writers’ room actually be? For some of this year’s Emmy-nominated shows, those doors are wide open. Before the 71st annual Primetime Emmy Awards air on Sept. 22, the Writers Guild of America West and Writers Guild Foundation, [...]

  • Disney Villains Series 'Book of Enchantment'

    'Book of Enchantment' Series Based on Iconic Disney Villains Shelved at Disney Plus

    Disney Plus has decided to not move forward with “Book of Enchantment,” a series based on some of Disney’s most iconic villains, Variety has learned from sources. The news comes the day before Disney is set to unveil its streaming service at the biannual D23 convention in Anaheim. The prospective project was based on the [...]

  • ITV STUDIOS PRESENTS VERAFILM 2Pictured: BRENDA

    Brenda Blethyn to Star in New ITV Sitcom 'Kate and Kolo'

    Oscar-nominated Brenda Blethyn is set to star in the new sitcom “Kate and Kolo” for ITV, the U.K. broadcaster announced at the Edinburgh TV Festival. Blethyn takes on the title role of Kate in the comedy alongside theater and film actor Jimmy Akingbola as Kolo. Blethyn is a popular star with ITV audiences after having [...]

  • Sean Spicer Emmys

    Sean Spicer's Casting Explained? Red States Love 'Dancing With the Stars'

    ABC faced backlash this week after casting former White House press secretary Sean Spicer on “Dancing with the Stars.” But that outrage might actually spice up the dancing competition’s dwindling ratings — particularly in Trump Country. “Dancing with the Stars” has faced a relatively alarming decline in ratings over the past two cycles, falling 32% [...]

  • Peppa Pig

    Hasbro Acquires Entertainment One in $4 Billion All-Cash Deal

    Toymaker Hasbro is acquiring studio Entertainment One in an all-cash transaction valued at $4 billion, bringing My Little Pony and Nerf under the same umbrella as “Peppa Pig” and “PJ Masks” and furthering Hasbro’s growth goals in the infant and preschool categories. Hasbro aims to expand its operations in film and TV. Entertainment One’s production [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content