Channel 4 has hit back against reports of falling viewing figures for reality show Big Brother.

The station said in a statement that the finale of Big Brother 9 peaked at an audience of 5.3 million viewers last night.

However, at its peak the programme could draw an audience of nine million and commentators have noted Big Brother's falling popularity.

The figures showed this year was the most unpopular ever.

Simon Jones, of Hackford Jones, who represents Brian Dowling, the winner of the show's second series, told The Times: "I don't think that the new Big Brother housemates will find anywhere near as much fame and fortune as previous contestants."

The channel was eager to scotch any rumours that this year would be the last for the show.

A Channel 4 spokesperson said: "This year's Big Brother has regularly delivered an audience of around three million viewers - even after nine years on air, it is still right up there among our highest ratings programmes.

"No other programme delivers us such a consistent, sizable audience and we are incredibly pleased with its performance. We look forward to celebrating ten years of Big Brother next year."

07/09/2008 08:14:04