A member of the Women's Institute, a political protester and a former lap dancer are set to make strange bedfellows in the latest Big Brother series, which begins tonight.

The trio will be among those entering the Big Brother house at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, for the eighth run of the reality show, Channel 4 has revealed.

Housemates will also include the oldest resident in the Big Brother house to date, a nanny and the relative of a premiership footballer.

Meanwhile one of the contestants has been identified as a former child Prodigy who could read by the age of two - a possible jab at critics who have previously insinuated that Big Brother participants lack intelligence.

Another is likely to ensure that the Big Brother house is kept spick and span given their occupation as a cleaner.

Fans of the reality show have been eagerly awaiting the start of the latest series, which begins on Channel 4 at 21:00 BST, but this year's launch has been mired in controversy following allegations of racism which dogged the last series of Celebrity Big Brother earlier this year.

Channel 4 has been ordered to make three on-air apologies after television watchdog Ofcom ruled last week that Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty had been the victim of alleged racist bullying by other celebrity housemates during the previous run of the show.

The ruling comes amid accusations that Big Brother producers fail to provide the show's ordinary participants with enough support to cope with their new found fame on the outside world once they leave the house.

"You have no media training, you have no aftercare, you have no psychologist helping you afterwards and it's a big adjustment," former housemate Narinder Kaur told Sky News.

30/05/2007 07:54:23