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British TV cancels reality show 'Big Brother'

LONDON — Britain doesn't love "Big Brother" the way it used to.

Television station Channel 4 said Tuesday it was canceling the show that sparked a national obsession with reality TV and next year's 11th season will be the last.

"Big Brother" made its British debut in 2000 and quickly became a national talking point. The show confines a group of people to a house under the constant gaze of cameras and lets viewers vote to evict them one by one. Several contestants became celebrities, including Jade Goody, the troubled star who died of cancer in March at age 27.

"Celebrity Big Brother," a version of the show featuring C-list actors and tabloid personalities, also made for memorable television. The show's 2006 series featured renegade politician George Galloway performing an interpretive dance dressed in a red leotard and lapping imaginary milk while pretending to be a cat.

In 2007 the show made a brief and chaotic foray into the international arena when Indians protested what they said was the racist treatment of Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty by fellow contestants.

Shetty herself said she was shocked but not surprised by news of the show's demise.

"I was kind of expecting it," she told Sky News television in an interview in London.

"For all those people who are voyeuristic, this was a legal way of looking into people's lives," Shetty said. Still, she said, "every show has a shelf life."

Viewers made some 20 million calls to the program's eviction line during its debut. At its peak, it was estimated to be generating 68 million pounds of profit a year.

But the show has suffered falling ratings in the past few years. Channel 4 director of television Kevin Lygo said the show had reached a "natural end."