British tabloid The Sun cited unnamed sources Monday confirming an “official lineup” of 13 contestants on the show, including Daniels, the former porn star who was allegedly paid off to keep quiet about a sexual encounter with Donald Trump. “Stormy is the biggest signing for this year’s show and she’ll make headlines around the world,” The Sun quoted a source as saying.
On Tuesday, Channel 5 would neither confirm nor deny the participation of Daniels or “Cheers” actress Alley, or the rest of The Sun’s reported lineup. A spokesperson told Variety the names were not official and represented the newspaper’s “amalgamation of speculated names.” The contestants will officially be unveiled at Thursday night’s premiere.
Daniels’ participation would certainly be in keeping with the show’s theme, “The Eye of the Storm,” which was announced by production company Endemol Shine U.K. in July. The company said the latest series would feature housemates who have been caught up in their own media controversies.
Securing Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, would be a publicity coup for “Big Brother” amid the ongoing scandal surrounding her alleged encounter with Trump and the fallout of those revelations. Daniels alleges the encounter took place in 2006 and that she was paid $130,000 by Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to stop her discussing it. The scandal has dogged Trump and kept Daniels in the public eye all year.
Paul Osborne, the show’s new creative director, who previously worked on past series in various capacities, said when the new season’s theme was revealed: “This year all the celebrity housemates have a unique shared experience. They’ve all weathered their own media storms.”
The show’s entire marketing campaign has revolved around the theme, with the slogan “A storm is coming” and the hashtag #CBBStorm on social media.
Most recently the official “Big Brother” Twitter account tweeted Saturday: “A strong storm is coming from across the Atlantic…Who do you think it’s forecast to blow in?” which some people had already speculated hinted at Daniels’ potential participation.
Other celebrities said to appear in the new season, according to The Sun, include “Love Island” star Gabby Allen; soccer player Jermaine Pennant; and infamous investment broker Nick Leeson, whose fraudulent activities led to the collapse of Barings Bank in 1995 – a story depicted in the 1999 film “Rogue Trader,” starring Ewan McGregor as Leeson.