After entering the first Big Brother house as an unknown, ordinary guy, former stockbroker Nick Bateman became so famous that he shared the red carpet with Brad Pitt.
It was his clever double-dealing in the Channel 4 show’s launch series in 2000 that earned him the title of Nasty Nick – and the most attention of all the original housemates.
By pitting contestants against each other and pretending to be their friends, he managed to avoid an eviction nomination.
After 34 days, he was finally asked to leave the show for interfering in the housemates’ voting process.
But Nick, 55, who now lives in Australia, thinks his “nastyness” is tame by today’s reality TV standards.
In an exclusive interview he tells The Sun: “I was on the wrong show at the wrong time in the right genre.
“The Traitors was probably a better fit for me. Writing names on pieces of paper and discussing nominations all seems very boring compared to what is happening now.
“I wouldn’t consider something like Married At First Sight or Love Island to be out of control.”
But Nick clearly hasn’t lost the evil side that made him so infamous.
He dismisses Love Islanders because they have “nothing between their ears” and only want to sell clothes and cosmetics.
When Big Brother returns after moving from Channel 4 to 5 and now ITV2, the new contestants will be hoping to recapture the excitement of the first three series.
When the fly-on-the-wall show started 23 years ago, it wasof the country in which around three million people watch their every move every night.
The cast were not allowed to communicate with anyone outside the East London home – and they did not expect the show to be a success.
Nick recalls: “It was late at night, 10 o’clock, on Channel 4. I thought, ‘Nobody’s going to pay attention to ten people nobody knows.’ How could that be interesting?'”
When he left the house, he had a rude awakening to find that Big Brother had become a phenomenon – and was suddenly one of the most notorious people in Britain.
The Sun reported him and took him in a blacked-out vehicle to the glitzy premiere of Guy Ritchie’s gangster film Snatch.
Nick spent ten minutes in London’s Leicester Square signing autographs on the red carpet he shared with Hollywood heartthrob Brad.
Looking back, he is still amazed that he ended up on the front page of The Sun alongside celebrity director Guy and footballer-turned-actor Vinnie Jones, who played gangster Bullet Tooth Tony in the film.
He remembers: “It was my first real trip. When I pulled up in that SUV and all the cameras were flashing and everyone was screaming and screaming, it was very surreal.
“To wake upWhen I’m in the newspaper in the morning with Brad Pitt, Vinnie Jones and Guy Ritchie, you can’t prepare for that – to be nobody one day and somebody the next.
“It was all a whirlwind. I think Brad was very amused that so much attention was focused on someone.
“He didn’t know who the hell I was.”
The crowd’s positive reaction allayed some of Nick’s initial fears that people were targeting him after he left the house.
Soon the Kent-born former public school student discovered he had one from fans – some with strange requests.
He recalls: “I had a lot of requests to speak at people’s weddings or sign people’s bras at nightclubs.
“I grew up in a very Victorian family. I found most of these requests very strange.”
Fearing more bad headlines, Nick’s pen never got anywhere near the underwear and he says: “I always thought it was a trap.”
But his fame enabled him to write a book called How To Be A Right Bastard, host the Channel 4 game show Trust Me and appear on several other shows includingWeakest Link and 8 out of 10 cats.
In 2010, he was one of eleven former housemates chosen for the final series of Channel 4’s show Ultimate Big Brother – in which he came fifth – and he also appeared in a Big Brother pantomime.
But at some point work in show business began to dry up and he emigrated to Sydney to start a new life.
He says: “I love Australia – the sun is shining and the beer is cold.
“I don’t really miss Britain, although sometimes I get nostalgic when I go back. I work in sales and marketing. I’m a freelance consultant.”
Divorced Nick, who is in a relationship but has not remarried, added: “I’m content and happy.”
But even down under, he’s still being discovered by Big Brother fans and he’s come to believe he’ll never lose the Nasty Nick name.
He says: “Once you have a label, it always sticks. Even if I went to Somalia and gave rice to starving children, nothing would change.”
Ahead of the new series, there were rumors that some former Big Brother contestants would return to add some spice to the programme, but Nick insists he has no interest in being locked up with a group of strangers again.
He says, “I wouldn’t do that. It’s like going back to an old friend. At this point it’s a good idea, but when you look back you’ll probably realize it’s a terrible idea.
“I did three Big Brothers, Big Brother pantomime, Ultimate Big Brother and the first series. Three is enough.”
Nick admits he wasn’t that interesting to watch when he appeared on Ultimate Big Brother, which saw housemates from both the celebrity and regular versions compete for the title of Best British Contestant Ever and the Irishman Brian Dowling won.
He says: “I was a lot more cautious about it and tried not to be too controversial.”
But he believes it’s people like him who provide entertainment on reality TV shows, continuing: “As with all these shows, the most boring people make it to the finals and the most enigmatic ones get kicked out very quickly.”
Although he had plenty of opportunities to make money after Big Brother, he believes the latest reality shows are even bigger cash cows.
That’s because participants become instant social media stars and can make a fortune by plugging products.
He says: “I probably would have had 20 million Instagram followers if social media had existed when I was on Big Brother.
“The difference with reality shows now is that people only do it for one reason – fame and Instagram followers.
“Once they have enough followers, they can sell face cream or aftershave and retire to Ibiza.”
And he fears producers of the Big Brother relaunch on ITV2 will make the mistake of trying to copy the channel’s hugely popular Love Island.
Nick has not kept in touch with his former housemates such as winner Craig Phillips and runners-up Anna Nolan and Darren Ramsay.
And he adds: “I don’t know if I’ll watch the new series.
“If ITV took Love Island-style casting with good-looking women and good-looking men with nothing between their ears and tried to force problems, that could happen.
“But if they get the cast, the tasks and the mix right, it has the potential to be great for viewers.
Read more on the Irish Sun
“I don’t think people want a Love Island Big Brother. They want Big Brother the way it was.”
- Big Brother: Launches on October 8th at 9pm on ITV1, ITV2 and ITVX.