The charitable side of... Big Brother

Although it raises the hackles of middle England, the celebrity version of the reality TV show does raise money for good causes.

After 12 tortuous weeks - tortuous for both contestants and viewers - Big Brother 6 finally ground to a halt on Friday.

But as well as keeping what many would describe as the UK's most irritating personalities off the streets, the reality TV show has contributed to a number of other good causes.

A celebrity version of Big Brother screened in January this year - and due to be repeated next year - raised £262,000 for a number of charities chosen by the eight contestants. Among them were ActionAid, chosen by radio presenter Lisa I'Anson, and Greatwood Caring for Retired Racehorses, chosen by racing pundit John McCririck. The public could vote for who they wanted to win by phone or text message at a cost of 50p per vote. Of this, 16p was divided up equally among the contestants' chosen charities so that everyone raised the same amount, regardless of where they finished. Another 25p from each vote went to the Asian tsunami appeal.

There was also a prize of £50,000, with which the winner could do what they wanted. This year's winner was ex-Happy Mondays dancer Bez, real name Mark Berry, who made no secret of the fact that he went into the house to get himself out of a financial hole.

As for the non-celebrity version of the show, a spokesperson admitted: "There's no real charitable side to the programme." However, money raised from voting is ploughed back into programmes, such as documentaries that otherwise might not be made. The prize money normally goes straight into the winner's pocket, although Big Brother 1 winner Craig Phillips gave all £70,000 to a friend with Down's Syndrome who needed to travel to the US for a heart and lung transplant.

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