The 10 Best Big Brother Contestants Of All Time

Is your favourite on the list?

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by Grazia |

Big Brother is back! The iconic show announced its return during the Love Island final this week after long being rumoured to be making a comeback to ITV2. The show has now confirmed that it will appear on ITV2 and ITVX from 2023, for the first time on UK screens in five years.

A host of new cast members from very different walks of life are set to live for six weeks in the world famous on-screen home, with cameras beaming their every move onto our screens.

Previously, Big Brother ran for several series on both Channel 4 and Channel 5, and undoubtedly changed the face of television as we know it. That said, some contestants stood out more than others. And so, in honour of its return this weekend, here are Grazia’s top 10 favourite housemates, ever. Are your top picks on the list?

10. Anna Nolan - Series 1

A former nun, Anna came second in the first ever series of the show, managing the boredom and ennui of several weeks in the Big Brother house before the challenges and twists became a fixture of later series. She always kept things calm and collected, and was a positive influence on the group as a whole. Her relatability and kind demeanour spread into the real world post-eviction, when she forged a successful presenting career.

Anna’s presence on this list is a recognition of her quiet charm and measured patience, but also because she’s a reminder of how Big Brother is not always about the big personalities who make a lot of noise and earn the most screentime. Sometimes it’s just about being, well, nice.

9. Michelle Bass - Series 5

Michelle might not have known the tune to Pie Jesu, but she definitely knew the meaning of what made good TV. As part of an in-house clique referred to as The Lip Gloss Bitches (they came up with the title, not me) she was a little bit bitchy, always glamorous, and gave the public one of their favourite things: a romance. She and Stuart Wilson - long hair, bushy eyebrows - became the love story of that summer.

8. Brian Dowling - Series 2

Oh Brian, we had a laugh didn’t we? A little bit shrill, but also warm and kind and really, really funny, Brian more than delivered in Big Brother’s difficult second series. So popular a housemate was he that he returned to the show for the Ultimate Big Brother series, and won that too! A reminder that the world will always respond well to a nice lad with an Irish accent.

7. Aisleyne Horgan-Wallace - Series 7

Aisleeeeeynne was a tonic. Arriving in the house twelve days into proceedings, she brought a much needed new energy and really livened things up. She had the best stories about her past, was frank and funny, and - like many of the women on this list - was popular precisely because of her flaws. It isn’t perfection that makes a good housemate, it’s honesty and sense of self. Aisleyne had that by the bucketload.

6. Alison Hammond - Series 3

Alison Hammond
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Alison would be on this list even if she hadn’t used the programme as a springboard into a successful presenting career. She actually only lasted 15 days in the house, but those two weeks were impactful. She was loud and brash, but also absolutely hilarious, and it’s no wonder that her friendship with that year’s champion - Kate Lawler - is still going strong today. If you’re ever in need of a smile, find the clip of her infamous table-breaking incident.

5. Nick Bateman - Series 1

‘Nasty’ Nick Bateman was gaslighting years before many people even knew what that meant. He used deception and trickery to pit contestants against one another, becoming popular in the process and never earning a single nomination. But viewers could see his machinations, and were livid with his cruelty and dishonesty. The moment in which his housemates discovered what was going on, and confronted him around the kitchen table, remains one of the most riveting scenes in Big Brother history.

4. Nadia Almada - Series 5

Nadia was a worthy champion of series 5, then the longest series to date (the previous four years had lasted 64, but Nadia was inside for 71). She was spirited, funny, passionate and just a tiny bit tempestuous.

Aside from all of that, Nadia showed immense bravery in coming into the Big Brother house as its first transgender housemate, bringing visibility to the trans community in the process.

3. Makosi Musambasi - Series 6

Big Brother
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Makosi brought the drama in spades. After a tryst with eventual winner Anthony Hutton, she requested a pregnancy test in a whispered diary room exchange that went down in history (a note to those who may need to know in future: pregnancy tests are not useful the morning after a frisson).

2. Nikki Grahame - Series 7

Never have the words ‘Who is she?’ been spat out with so much delicious venom. Nikki's tantrums were legendary.

And yet, she was highly endearing and, beneath the exterior, rather vulnerable. Her presence in the house raised questions about the rigour of their mental health screenings, and Nikki sadly passed away in 2021, at 38 years old, after complications from a prolonged battle with anorexia.

'It breaks our hearts to know that someone who is so precious was taken from us at such a young age,' a statement on her GoFundMe page read. 'Nikki not only touched the lives of millions of people, but also her friends and family who will miss her immensely.'

1. Jade Goody - Series 3

Jade
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Jade won the nation’s hearts via her malapropisms and dodgy grasp of geography. She thought Rio de Janeiro was a person. But the third series would have been dull without her.

People loved her because she was never anything but herself, and while she didn’t win she undeniably became one of the programme’s most famous alumni. Her involvement in the Celebrity Big Brother racism row made her a figure of hate, but she was working hard on her public rehabilitation. Her death in 2009 cut her story tragically short, but her legacy - a huge increase in cervical cancer awareness and testing - remains.

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