Sixteen housemates have entered the (new) Big Brother house. The verdict is in, and – drum roll please – the response is triumphant.

On 7 October, the ultimate social experiment on TV returned to screens with more than 2.5 million viewers tuning in. The BBC reported that two million viewers watched on ITV1 and a further 527,000 on ITV2.

After returning from a five year hiatus, the pre-recorded show was aired simultaneously on ITV and ITV2, taking the prime 9pm slot. The Big Brother refresh gave a glimpse of the 16 new contestants, the casting of which has been celebrated across social media.

One fan said: “The Traitors’ casting producers walked so the Big Brother’s casting producers could run – but it’s a really good cast! #BBCUK.”

Another fan tweeted “someone give whoever did the casting for Big Brother a pay rise asap”.

This was the first opportunity to see the two new hosts, AJ Odudu and Will Best, in action.

Speaking exclusively to GAY TIMES ahead of the launch show, AJ celebrated the rich history and connection the show has with the LGBTQIA+ community: “We didn’t realise how progressive [Big Brother] was, so I’m glad that we’re bringing that back to screens at a time where we see there’s so much confusion [around LGBTQIA+ issues].”

AJ explained how “Brian Dowling was the first openly gay person that I personally had ever seen on screen, and he owned his sexuality and personality. He was truly celebrated, not only by himself, but by the people around him.

“Nadia Almada, the first trans person ever on Big Brother. Again, she owned herself and was celebrated by the housemates and viewing public. You don’t realise how groundbreaking Big Brother is when you consider all of the conversations we as a society are having around the trans community and gender identity. That’s only starting to take shape now, when Nadia was on [TV] like 20 years ago?

“Hopefully, Big Brother can offer the diversity and the stories that we want to see.”

Since the launch show Big Brother UK has continued to trend on Twitter with fans and former hosts quick to react.

Davina McCall, former host of the main show for a decade, tweeted: “How’s it going? I’ve got horrific fomo’”.

Rylan Clark, season 11 winner of Celebrity Big Brother and former host of Big Brother’s Bit on the Side, tweeted his support and said: “Good luck to @bbuk. Have a fantastic series and welcome back Big Bro x”.

Keep scrolling to see more fans’ reactions.

The show may have a new home and boast a “contemporary new look”, but rest assured “the public plays a crucial role, voting throughout the series and ultimately determining the winner.”

The regular series will be followed by Big Brother: Late & Live, where the co-hosts reflect on the episode in front of a live studio audience and celebrity guests.

Big Brother continues every night on ITV1 at 9pm.