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Live Feed Furore Culminates In Death Threats

The furore surrounding Channel 4's decision to scrap daytime Big Brother coverage this year has, outrageously, culminated in the Head of the TV channel receiving death threats.

For years now, fans have been able to watch the show at any time, 24/7, either online or by pressing their red button, and live coverage was also scheduled on C4/ E4 during the day. However, there is no red button live feed this year and the live coverage doesn't start until late in the evening, running through to about 5am.

So, viewers who would normally be able to watch the show whenever they want have been left in the dark during the day as-to what's going-on in the House. This has caused a huge backlash, with fans posting furiously on discussion forums and also starting petitions asking Channel 4 to reinstate the live feed/ daytime shows.

Indeed, even Big Brother host Davina McCall – a big fan herself – got involved by urging people to sign such petitions on her personal Twitter page.

Former housemates also came out-of the woodwork to make comment: BB5's Dan Bryan supporting the angry fans by dubbing the feed an 'integral part of the show', but BB2's Stuart Hosking dismissing all the fuss and claiming that fans aren't really missing anything (um, except everything that happens during the day!)

In light of all the heat, Channel 4 went on record to confirm that the daytime coverage won't be returning, with viewers' editor Paula Carter saying that low demand in previous years meant the broadcaster couldn't sustain the 24-hour live feed.

"Unfortunately, we found that less and less people were watching the live feed, so although it must be very frustrating for loyal fans, it has reached a point where we could no longer justify offering this service on a twenty-four hour basis," said Carter on an online forum.

"I am very sorry to be the bearer of this news but I hope that you will still be able to enjoy this latest series of Big Brother," she added, while Davina backpeddled by posting on her Twitter page that at least Channel 4 is providing plenty of online video clips instead.

The thing is, Big Brother Online has got hold of the viewing figures for the live feed last year, and while the press department were happy for us to believe that the take-up was 'just a few thousand', in fact the average daily audience for Channel 4 and E4 combined during Big Brother 9 was 480,000.

That's a lot of people to let down, and it has also impacted tabloid journalists who are struggling to find stories each day, unable to watch the events as they happen.

Still, while it's one thing to lobby the broadcaster, it is totally unjustified doing what one deranged fan has done, and that's issue death threats against the family of Channel 4 boss Andy Duncan.

For some complete nutter has e-mailed the Chief Executive stating that unless the live feed is reinstated his daughter will be killed. Commenting on the worrying correspondence, a C4 insider said, "We're hoping that the writer was just lashing-out and that the reference to 'killing a daughter' was just added for dramatic effect".

Needless to say, the Police have been called and are investigating the matter, doubtless trying to trace the sender of the sick e-mail.

While we can't condone such behaviour on behalf of Big Brother fans, we can understand the frustration and feel that Channel 4 has totally underestimated how much of a part the dedicated viewers – the sort who watch lots of live coverage – actually play in keeping momentum going by discussing the show with colleagues, friends and other fans online.

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