It has been 20 years since Cameron Stout captured the nation’s heart as the unassuming lad from Orkney who won Big Brother.
Then 32, the Stromness seafood trader made the unlikely leap into the reality TV goldfish bowl.
And decades on, he will be “glued to the screen” as a fresh intake of housemates follow in his footsteps in Big Brother 2023.
In our exclusive interview, Cameron also reveals:
- How he “thought it was a wind-up” when he was asked to be a housemate.
- He and his fellow contestants “have a Whatsapp group and Zoom from time to time”
- And how he was recently recognised by a fan while visiting Canada!
‘I don’t want any interruptions’ while watching Big Brother 2023
“Without a shadow of a doubt, I’ll be watching,” the cheery Orcadian says of Big Brother 2023 as he chatted to me from the BBC Orkney offices.
“I’ll be pulling the phone out the wall, I don’t want any interruptions or distractions.
“I’ll be sitting glued to it to see who’s there and what they’ve done.
“I’m really excited about it. It evokes all these memories, especially the theme music.”
Cameron was named winner of the fourth series – and of £70,000 – on July 25 2003, after 64 days in the Big Brother house.
It’s now returning to TV screens for the first time since 2018.
Despite being a big fan, the now 52-year-old never had any intention of applying to appear on the show.
He simply wanted to get his hands on an application pack so he could see how it all worked… And one thing led to another.
“My word, it was extensive, it was worse than applying for a job,” he chuckled.
“I genuinely had not meant to, but really randomly, I started filling it in.
“I ended up writing and writing, and then almost as a joke, I sent it in – safe in the knowledge I would never hear from them again.”
Before entering the Big Brother house, Cameron had to complete a number of in-person interviews in Glasgow and London.
However, he believed the initial call about his application was a hoax.
“I put down the phone about three times on the woman, thinking it was a wind-up call,” he said.
“But it all went from there…
“Genuinely, every stage I got to, I was saying to my brother I didn’t mind if I got any further.
“It had been so interesting, just taking part in the process and seeing what was involved.”
Cameron was at a friend’s house when he got the call to say he would be one of the housemates in the 2003 series.
“I nipped into the garden to take the call and it was one of the top brass of the whole operation.
“They never called you by your name in case phone lines were being recorded.
“She spoke for ages and I thought, ‘oh this is really kind, she’s letting me down gently’. Then she said they wanted me to be one of the 12.
“That night I had to whisper and couldn’t celebrate too loudly.”
What are Cameron’s fondest memories of Big Brother?
For Cameron, some of his highlights from his time on the show were the weekly rewards room and his week exchange in the Big Brother Africa house, which led to him meeting the founding president of Zambia, Dr Kenneth Kaunda.
He said: “One of the real positives from the whole thing is how much we’ve all remained friends.
“We Zoom from time to time and we’ve got a WhatsApp group we’re all in.
“To have those folk that you shared a really unique experience with is a real highlight for me.”
In its fourth series, the show was watched by an average of 4.6 million viewers but housemates did not have to face the world of social media upon their return to reality.
ITVX has already shared how it will approach the show in a more modern way with housemates being offered an individual support plan, including mental health sessions before and after their time in the house.
How has life changed for Big Brother winner Cameron Stout?
Cameron’s time on Big Brother has opened a number of doors for him in the two decades since.
That includes becoming a patron of His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen, starring in a number of pantomimes at the theatre and writing a newspaper column.
“There have been lots of high points,” he added.
The Stromness resident is now part of the news team at BBC Orkney where he produces and presents radio programmes.
When he’s not on the radio, he occasionally fills in as a head teacher at one of the island schools and performs with his choir – Orkney Rocks! – which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
Although it has been 20 years since Cameron graced TV screens across the UK, he still receives letters and messages about his time in the Big Brother house.
“It does crop up from time to time,” he said.
“Recently on holiday in Canada as well, which took me a bit by surprise.
“People who have positive memories of the early days of Big Brother still have a positive view of it now.
“They have a connection to it and, from my point of view, that is a positive thing.”
- Big Brother 2023 will start tomorrow at 8pm on ITV/ITVX/STV.