Channel 4 has announced 'Big Brother' will be axed after next year's show.

Following rumours the reality TV show faces the chop, the network has confirmed it will not renew its contract with programme makers Endemol when it ends in 2010.

Kevin Lygo, Director of Television and Content, said: "The programme has reached a natural end point on Channel 4 and it's time to move on."

Philip Edgar Jones, Creative Director of 'Big Brother' added: "On behalf of the whole 'Big Brother' team who work so hard I would like to say a big thank you to all the show's fans and housemates for helping us ensure it remains the biggest show on Channel 4 even after all these years. Big thanks also to Channel 4 for all their support in what continues to be a great partnership. We'll be back next year and it's going to be a blast... and after that, well, Big Brother will get back to you, you can count on it."

The show first hit screens in 2000, and was an instant hit.

Contestants such as Jade Goody, Alison Hammond and Brian Dowling managed to carve out successful careers for themselves, but more recent hopefuls have struggled since leaving the house.

This year's edition of the Channel 4 reality TV show has been the least popular in history with just two million viewers regularly tuning in, compared to eight million in previous years.