Big Brother first took to our screens back in the summer of 2000 and is undoubtedly one of the main shows that can be blamed for kicking off the entire reality TV genre.
When those first housemates walked into the Big Brother house back in season one, they had no idea if anybody would even be watching, let alone that they were kicking off what would become a landmark TV show.
Since then, hundreds of housemates have passed through the Big Brother doors, some more memorable than others, and some far more successful than others. Ahead of tonight's Big Brother final, we have taken a look at who exactly came out the best over the past seventeen years, a few of whom have even managed to become millionaires off the back of the show. So now.
By far the most successful Big Brother winner is Craig Philips. We know, who'd have thought it? Phillips won the first ever Big Brother and even gave away his £70,000 prize money to a friend with Down Syndrome who needed a heart and lung transplant. However, he has since made his money by amassing a property empire, setting up one of the largest independent construction training academies in the UK, as well as earning roughly £800,000 from his 2009 book Building Beyond Big Brother. As of 2014, he was reportedly worth £6.9 million pounds. Yep.
Craig's fellow housemate Anna Nolan didn't fare too badly either. She may not have a million pound property empire (that we know of) but since appearing on the show, the ex-nun went on to numerous presenting gigs, including of course The Great Irish Bake Off. She has worked as a producer on some of the nation's most popular shows, including Operation Transformation and Room to Improve, and is currently the Development Executive for COCO Television, who most recently brought us First Dates Ireland. In fact, it was Anna who was said to have discovered the show's popular Croatian Maitre D', Mateo.
Kate Lawler won the third season of Big Brother, and was the first ever female winner. Since that summer, Kate went on to appear in the likes of Love Island (the back in the day one) and a few other TV shows, but as of 2007, her main career focus has been with radio, which she has done extremely well in over in the UK, going from Kerrang! radio all the way up to her most recent gig as a presenter on Virgin Radio, working alongside the likes of Edith Bowman. In a recent interview, she said she loved her time on Big Brother, but that she wouldn't recommend anyone doing it now "unless you genuinely want to go in for the experience. I think too many people will come out now expecting to be Jade Goody, and there only ever was one Jade."
Jade Goody, who sadly passed away in 2009 with cervical cancer, was and still is undoubtedly one of the show's most successful housemates. Jade appeared in the 2002 series alongside Kate and was famous for one-liners ("Am I minging?") throughout her time in the house. Before she was diagnosed back in August 2008, she was estimated to have made as much as £4.5 million from her autobiographies, fitness DVDs, her “Shh” perfume range, television, newspaper and magazine deals and property investments. She intentionally capitalised on her death with documentaries and television interviews so she could leave a trust fund for her young sons Freddy and Bobby. It's thought she was worth £8 million by the time of her death in March 2009.
Brian won the 2007 series of Big Brother and also returned in 2015 for a stint in the Time Warp themed series. Since the show ended he's has had regular stints on Harry Hill's TV Burp and writes for Heat Magazine. Want to know where his real fortune came from? In 2013 he took out a lawsuit against ITV and Lime Pictures for stealing his idea for The Only Way is Essex, and WON, pocketing £1 million. Nice.
Another Brian who didn't do too badly at all from his time in the Big Brother house is our first and only Irish Big Brother winner (Hughie, you were robbed) Brian Dowling, who went from a 'trolley dolly' with Ryanair to BB winner of series 2 back in 2001, and also won the title of the Ultimate Big Brother housemate in 2010. In 2011 he went on to replace Davina McCall as host of Big Brother when it moved to Channel 5, although was replaced by current presenter Emma Willis in 2013. Dowling also became the first openly gay children's TV presenter in the UK when he presented SMTV Live back in 2002. Most recently, he hosted a game show on TV3 called Sitting on a Fortune, but to be honest, we don't see enough of him on the box these days. We do, however, see him all the time on Pippa O'Connor's Instagram feed.
Alison Hammond may be the most successful Big Brother contestant who was evicted early on the show. While most of the others on this list either won or stuck it out until fairly near the end, Alison was booted out in the second week of season three. Her bubbly personality left an impression, however, and she has gone on to make a successful TV career off the back of it. She is most famous as a showbiz reporter on ITV's This Morning, and in 2016 she became the show's new Agony Aunt, replacing the late Denise Robertson. Hammond also appeared I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! in 2010, Strictly Come Dancing in 2014 and the ninth series of Celebrity Masterchef.
Another popular Irish housemate was Ray Shah, finishing second in the series in 2003 and went on to work as a radio presenter for Dublin's Q102 radio station and iRadio. However, it's a business venture that is his greatest success as he set up Bodyfirst Nutrition in 2012, which sells sports nutrition supplements and has already expanded to three stores around Dublin.
Nikki is one of the most popular Big Brother housemates of all time and was known for those famous temper tantrums of hers in the Diary Room. ("Who IS she?!) Since her appearance on the show in 2006, she went on to have her own reality show, 'Princess Nikki', came 2nd in the Ultimate Housemates series, and also returned in 2015 for the Time Warp series. She was even one of two 'international wild cards' who won a public vote to enter the fourth season of Big Brother Canada in 2016. She has also written two autobiographies chronicling her struggle with anorexia. Nikki is estimated to be worth about half a million.
Josie Gibson won series 11 of Big Brother back in 2010, the last one to be shown on Channel 4. She won by 77.5% of the public vote which is the highest there has ever been out of any other Big Brother series. She is unrecognisable these days having since lost an incredible six stone and went on to release a workout video called Josie Gibson: 30 Second Slim in January 2013. As well as that, she has numerous magazine deals and TV appearances, and even a couple of reality shows including this year's The Jump. She has also developed her very own weight loss website called Slimmables. Josie most recently showed up in this current series of Big Brother to give housemate Raph advice on how to win. We'll find out if it worked on tonight's final, live on 3e at 9 pm.