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The average age of a Big Brother houseguest, and how that’s changed

The average age of a Big Brother houseguest, and how that’s changed
The Big Brother 17 cast is the second-youngest cast in the show's history. (Photo by Robert Voets/ CBS)

When Vulture’s Joe Adalian asked CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler if Big Brother will ever again cast someone over 40, the room of TV critics and reporters laughed. Tassler said, “We will absolutely have characters over 40. We didn’t this year.”

That got me thinking: Was it just this year? Or has the show historically cast younger people?

So, I looked at the numbers. The results offered some surprises. (Updated to include the median age, which shows the age that’s in the middle of all the season’s ages.)

Big Brother houseguests ages, 2000 to 2015

season average age median age oldest
1 29.3 26.5 43
2 33.0 30.5 46
3 30.8 29 51
4 28.2 25 58
5 27.4 26 41
6 27.8 26.5 36
7 29.3 30 47
8 26.7 25.5 40
9 26.31 25.5 45
10 33.5 29 75
11 27.4 27 41
12 29.0 27 40
13 31.5 30.5 48
14 30.1 28 42
15 27.1 26.5 37
16 27.4 26 42
17 26.35 26 33

As you can see, over the last five seasons, the average age of the houseguests has decreased, from 31.5 to 26.4–a pretty significant drop. During those five years, there were two seasons with no one over the age of 40.

The oldest season, no surprise, was Big Brother 10, with the totally hilarious Jerry (75) and Renny (53) bringing up the average. The network and producers seem to have lost interest in finding similarly awesome older contestants in recent years.

What surprised me was that the show has been younger than this season (once, and just slightly), but mostly that the average age has gone up and down over time, as you can see in the graph below.

Yet it is clear that this is a very young show. As Jerry and Renny proved, and George before them, diversity in age contributes to entertainment. Life experience shows on the screen, and while I’m not advocating for Big Brother: Golden Girls edition (never mind: YES, PLEASE), the show would benefit from finding older contestants to play.

 

The average age of Big Brother houseguests from seasons 1 to 17

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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Happy discussing!

Linda

Saturday 12th of February 2022

Even though this article was written a few years ago, I came across it now looking up something else about Big Brother. RE: the article: Also there was Gerry Lancaster from BB3 who was pretty old - 51. He was a teacher. He made it about halfway through if I remember correctly. I liked him.