While we all have some fond memories of Big Brother Australia, it was not without some truly shocking and controversial moments.
Just because we want to, we’ve rounded up a bunch of these, from the spicy and fun stuff – to the downright actual crimes that should probably have seen the show shut down.
1. The Turkey Slap
Starting out with arguably one of the worst moments screened on Australian TV, when John held down fellow housemate Camilla so that his other housemate Ashley could “smack” her face with his genitals. I’d hedge several bets that if this incident went down in 2019, the entire show would be immediately scrapped.
Instead – even though then-PM John Howard made a statement of “I think it is just a question of good taste. Here is a great opportunity for Channel Ten to do a bit of self-regulation and get this stupid programme off the air”, Ashley and John were immediately evicted for violating the show’s terms of agreement, and Camilla broke down in tears because she FELT BAD ABOUT IT.
If that’s not some rape culture bullshit, I don’t know what is.
2. Tully & Drew’s Hook-Up (Season 10)
On a lighter, spicy note – Tully and Drew‘s steamy romance that culminated in the pair dating post-show was THE talk of 2013. Tully went into the show loved-up with her girlfriend on the outside, before sparks flew between her and Drew, the regulation hottie in the house.
They played the “just friends” card for a while before starting secret make-out sessions. Guys, you know this show is filmed from all angles, right? Tully’s GF dumped her from the outside, and she emerged into a world of criticism. When Drew was evicted a short while later, Tully was there to meet him – and look, contro as their cheating scandal was, it was a bit cute guys.
The pair have long since split, but we’ll always remember the iconic romance of 2013. PS there are like 32592 couple videos on YouTube of these guys and I won’t say that I DIDN’T just fall into an hour-long hole watching them….
3. Merlin’s Refugee Protest (Season 4)
Big Brother Australia’s woke housemate for 2004 used his eviction to protest the mandatory detention of asylum seekers in Australia by sticking gaffer tape over his mouth and holding up a ‘Free Th Refugees” sign. What ensued was the most awkward eviction interview of all time, where host Gretel Killeen tried in vain to get Merlin to speak, while the 3,000+ audience booed.
Even among supporters of Merlin‘s cause, the move was controversial – but you’ve gotta admit it’s kept people talking, even over a decade later.
4. Pete & Christina’s ‘Dancing Doona’ Moment (Season 1)
As always, Big Brother: Uncut brought most of the controversial moments of the show, and its first season was no exception.
Pete and Christina were the first couple on the Aussie series to engage in some “did they or didn’t they bone” action, with their ‘dancing doona’ moment – where they both went under a doona and did… stuff… was beamed into homes across Australia.
Neither party ever confirmed if they had sex or even engaged in some heavy petting action, but regardless the moment made headlines and had everyone talking.
5. Belinda Admits Her Sister Was Involved In A Murder (Season 3)
Okay, we ALL forgot about this one but it is INTENSE. Belinda was a contestant on the 2003 season of Big Brother, who after a night of heavy drinking admitted to housemate Carlo that her younger sister had been involved in the murder of a gay man.
The issue was that the identification of a minor involved in a court trial is illegal in QLD where Big Brother Australia was filmed. Channel Ten cut the livestream footage within seconds, but not before superfans picked up on it and started chatting in the online forums.
News spread via unofficial Big Brother websites, and soon was being dubbed ‘Belindagate’. Belinda then removed herself from the house – the first contestant to voluntarily leave since the show’s beginnings.
6. Lawson Cheats On His Girlfriend With Cat (Season 11)
The second biggest cheating scandal in Big Brother Australia history was when magician Lawson just openly started a relationship with fellow housemate Cat while he still had a long-term girlfriend on the outside. Unlike Tully and Drew’s hook up, these guys just went in for it, and it led to plenty of fan uproar.
While their beginnings were controversial as hell, the couple were still going strong five years later – but broke up in 2019.
7. Gretel Killeen Starts Dating Ex-Housemate Saxon (Season 3)
In a wild turn of events, host Gretel Killeen ended up briefly dating evicted season 3 housemate Daniel ‘Saxon’ Small.
He was 19 years younger than Grets which these days probs wouldn’t spark such controversy, but back in 2003 we weren’t as open-minded, I guess? Anyway, the romance was short-lived, but it sure did get tongues wagging.
8. Bree Gets Accidentally Evicted (Season 4)
Firstly – is this not the most 2004 outfit you’ve ever seen. Secondly, a big screw up occurred during Season 4 of Big Brother Australia, when fan fave Bree was evicted after a vote-counting error. They returned her into the house the Monday after her Sunday eviction, with actual evictee Wesley being booted on the Thursday. Way harsh.
9. Vesna Plucking Her Pubes In Bed (Season 5)
Vesna was one of those housemates that would do basically anything for notoriety – you know, the ones they put in because they’ll seek attention any way they can get it, making for great TV.
One of her most memorable moments was when she was plucking her pubes while sharing a bed with fellow housemates, before starting to complain that she had a beer that day and thought she had thrush because she felt “smelly”. I am more concerned by Dean POLISHING A CHEESE AXE in the video, tbh.
10. Emma’s Father Passes Away & No One Tells Her (Season 7)
This one’s complex. Emma entered the Big Brother house in 2007 while estranged from her father. He died of cancer while she was still in the house, and made a deathbed wish for her not to be informed until she was evicted.
The producers of the series respected this and Emma was not informed until 24 hours prior to her eviction, in a meeting with her brother and a psychologist. However, there was widespread criticism of the decision not to inform her the day he passed, as she also missed the funeral.
The situation gets murkier still as producer Kris Noble told press they weren’t aware of Emma’s father’s passing until days AFTER the funeral.
11. Jess & Marty Get Reality-TV Married, Then Divorced (Season 2)
The love story of season 2 on Big Brother Australia, farmer Marty and city gal Jess turned their house relationship into a bloody MARRIAGE, which was all filmed on Marty & Jess: An Outback Wedding. The couple sadly split 15 months later, with Jess blaming the publicity, saying it rushed them into their nuptials.
12. Gemma Gets Publicly Evicted (Season 11)
The final season of Big Brother Australia wasn’t without it’s controversies – the most notable being the first house eviction, which saw Gemma and fellow housemate Jake stand on circles while the house decided in FRONT OF THEM which one they wanted to keep by standing behind that housemate.
Everyone bar one person went behind Jake, resulting in public humiliation for Gemma. Media and viewers slammed the eviction as “schoolyard bullying”, and Gemma spoke out after her eviction about the emotional experience, relating it to her school experiences with bullying.
13. Producers Make Kate, Who Suffered A Late-Stage Miscarriage, Care For A Toy Baby
Reality TV producers often use cast members life experiences as fodder for their shows, but when Big Brother made season 7 housemate Kate participate in a challenge that involved her having to care for a toy robot baby – after she suffered a stillborn birth following pre-eclampsia just 18 months prior to entering the house. The producers knew of the still-birth, although they said Kate told them she’d dealt with the experience.