Although the very first American version of Celebrity Big Brother is set to premiere in February, the United Kingdom’s CBB has been a constant on British airways since 2001. The UK version of the reality show is set to air once again in January, and this time, it will commence with an all-female cast in tribute to women’s suffrage.
CBB UK will begin as a “man-free zone” in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Parliament giving women in England over the age of 30 the right to vote, according to the BBC. This 1918 ruling was only accomplished through the hard work of campaigning suffragettes who also contributed to the World War I effort.
A decade later, in 1928, the voting age for women was dropped to 21, the BBC reported.
Channel 5 released a statement about the upcoming CBB UK, saying the female celebrities will be allowed to do as they please at the beginning of the series before men are allowed to enter the house later in the season, according to Radio Times. In addition, the female cast will be made up of women from various backgrounds from politicians to entertainers, the statement noted.
Once the women’s male counterparts enter the CBB UK house, the cast mates will engage in a number of tasks and secret experiments that will examine their “assumptions, challenge stereotypes and reveal fascinating truths about what it is to be a woman – and a man – in the 21st century,” Radio Times reported.
Dr. Helen Pankhurst, a descendant of England’s suffragettes Emmeline and Sylvia Pankhurst, said her ancestors would find the all-female CBB UK cast amusing, according to the BBC. Her book entitled “Deeds Not Words,” is named after the slogan of the suffragettes.
Pankhurst said she believes that the upcoming CBB series will raise awareness about suffragette history and get a discussion going, which is “a great thing.” She told the BBC there still remains a great power imbalance in the entertainment industry and society at large, which has been made evident by the recently publicized #MeToo hashtag, posted on social media by those who have been victims of sexual injustice.
Emma Willis will return to CBB UK as host, while Rylan Clark-Neal will be back as host of the reality’s shows companion series, Celebrity Big Brother’s Bit on the Side.
Celebrity Big Brother and its after show, CBBBOTS, will air nightly on Channel 5 in the UK in January.