Policing the Big Brother house in Elstree Studios is reportedly proving an increasingly expensive business for production firm Endemol.

The BBC put in a freedom of information request to Hertfordshire police to uncover the costs of police investigations connected to Big Brother during the show's six-year history.

In every year since 2002 the total cost of police investigations relating to the Channel 4 reality TV show have increased  from £13,665 to £115,983 last year. The total cost amounts to around £350,000.

Fortunately the taxpayer does not have to foot the bill for these inquiries, however.

"Shortly after the programme began, it was decided that, where it was appropriate, Hertfordshire constabulary would recover the costs for any potential investigations arising from Big Brother in addition to the overall policing charges levied on Endemol," a spokesperson explained to the BBC.

This year's costs have already reached £476,771, most of which are likely to relate to the racism row which dominated headlines earlier in the year.

Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty was the victim of alleged racist abuse from fellow contestants Jade Goody, Jo O'Meara and others on the Celebrity Big Brother version of the show. No charges were pressed in the matter, however.

30/04/2007 17:10:31