ITV boss Kevin Lygo said the “extraordinary success” of Love Island encouraged the broadcaster to reboot Big Brother following its five-year hiatus.
The broadcaster announced earlier this month it is going to revive the influential reality TV programme, which aired in the UK for 18 years until 2018.
Addressing ITV’s reason for doing so at the Edinburgh TV Festival, the broadcaster’s managing director of media and entertainment described it as the programme that “shaped the most television” after gaining widespread popularity.
He said the November launch of upcoming streaming platform ITVX, which is expected to replace its on-demand service ITV Hub, was also a reason for Big Brother’s return, alongside the dominance of Love Island in the summer’s TV schedule.
Mr Lygo said: “We look at Love Island and we see this extraordinary successful show that defies all the sort of current logic and goes against what people say in that, ‘Young people don’t watch (linear) television’.
“And then you think every single night at nine o’clock on ITV2 and on the Hub is this show for eight weeks that more young people watch than they watch anything else.
“And we should all take great joy in the fact that if you get the right show, they’re going to come and watch it.”
He said he does not think Big Brother’s audience will skew as young because he feels many former viewers will return as they “remember it so fondly”.
Mr Lygo described its legacy as this “extraordinary thing” that arguably “shaped the most television” and does not worry about its revival being a risk for the broadcaster.
The panel’s moderator, journalist Emma Cox, questioned if bringing back the show was a sensible move given its track record of occasionally having negative effects on contestants and as ITV has comes under scrutiny with thousands of Ofcom complaints against Love Island and Channel 4 producing exposing documentaries on former daytime host Jeremy Kyle and the late Caroline Flack in recent years.
Mr Lygo admitted that he thinks mistakes had been made in the past, but feels their duty of care policies have improved after learning these lessons.
He said: “I think if you look back only a few years, the term ‘duty of care’ was hardly used, now it’s on everyone’s lips all the time.
“Broadcasters across the board are all very mindful of it, very aware of it, imposing conditions on commissions that the duty of care is participants is uppermost in producers minds.”
In May 2019, ITV released a new set of duty of care processes for Love Island which they updated for the most recent series and began giving inclusion training, including language and behaviour, to contestants ahead of them entering the villa.
The ITV boss added that he feels it would be “disingenuous” to cut out certain things that are said or done in shows like Love Island which producers might initially feel is “uncomfortable”.
He added: “I think a good and useful consequence for the entertainment shows is that they raise these discussion points of people’s behaviour and what they do and what they shouldn’t do into the public domain.
“But as producers and broadcasters we have to make sure they don’t step too far.”
The latest series of Love Island this summer was a ratings success, securing its biggest launch episode since 2019.
ITV also recently announced there will be two series of the show in 2023 – a winter series in South Africa and a summer series in Majorca.
Earlier this week, Laura Whitmore announced she is stepping down from her role as host of the hit dating series.
The 37-year-old has presented the popular dating programme, and its spin-off series Aftersun, since 2020 after the death of the show’s former host Flack.
It was confirmed during the TV festival that the new host is yet to be determined but that they will host the new winter series in 2023.
Also during the session, it was announced that Whitmore will front a new series which will explore “edgy, difficult, quite dark worlds” where “sex and power collide uncomfortably”.
The new three-part series has a working title of Laura Whitmore Investigates.