Big Brother ready to roll with 16 housemates

LONDON - 'Big Brother' will kick off tonight at 9pm on Channel 4, and leaks suggest that the 16 housemates will include a stand-up comic, a blind man, and a couple who will pretend not to know each other.

Channel 4 has also dropped some small clues about the housemates, revealing that one is a Buddhist and one is a Muslim, while one has never watched 'Big Brother'.

Three of this year's crop have kids and three were born outside the UK; one tearaway has been deported from America.

Three have some small claim to fame, including a stand-up comic, a DJ and someone who has appeared in a film with Hugh Grant.

The Sun claims that another housemate is blind and that Big Brother has recruited a couple who have been together for three years and will force them to pretend that they do not know each other for the first week.

The Sun also says that one housemate is 19-year-old Stephanie McMichael from Liverpool, who was thrown off 'Popstars: The Rivals' in 2002 for being underage, and another is Rex Newmark, a 24-year-old chef from London.

Appropriately with the BB9 house containing a "bling bathroom", one of the housemates has a watch that cost £13,000.

Davina McCall will get the 13-week long ninth series underway tonight between 9pm-10.40pm on Channel 4.

The channel will be happy if the show beats the ratings for the 'BB8' launch show, which was watched by 6.52m people.

This was despite being broadcast only a few months after the controversial 'Celebrity Big Brother' series, in which Bollywood start Shilpa Shetty was bullied by Jade Goody, Danielle Lloyd and Jo O'Meara.

However, interest in 'BB8' tailed off as some accused the show of playing it too safe in the wake of the condemnation Channel 4 received for 'Celebrity Big Brother'. Its average ratings of 3.8m viewers per show were 'Big Brother''s lowest to date.

The launch shows for 'BB7' and 'BB6' drew 7.04m and 5.93m viewers respectively.

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