Rumours are rife that Channel 4 may axe next summer’s series of Big Brother as the latest series was such a flop, according to the Sunday Mirror.

The paper reports that channel bosses are considering the move after viewing figures on the series – which ended on Friday night – hit an all-time low, with less than three million people tuning into some shows.

If the move goes ahead, the format would probably undergo a complete revamp and relaunch in the summer of 2009 – with a new presenter to replace Davina McCall.

The rumours come despite the fact that Channel 4 has already begun advertising for would-be housemates for the next series, with auditions set to begin in November.

“Everyone has been frantic with worry about the way it has gone,” a show insider told the paper.

“The most drastic plan is getting rid of the next series – but only for a year, as they hope the show will come back stronger. It would mean the end of an era in a sense, but might just save Big Brother.”

Celebrity Big Brother has already been axed from the 2008 schedules and will return in 2009.

Meanwhile, the paper also reports that show bosses acted quickly to avoid controversy after Ziggy was heard using racist language in the garden on Thursday night.

The former popstar was apparently heard to reference a lyric by US rapper 50 Cent which contained a racist term – and was hauled into the Diary Room and given a stern warning.

However unlike previous housemate Emily Parr, who was removed from the house after using similar language, Ziggy was not evicted due to the context in which the term was used.

“Ziggy was repeating a lyric from a song and his words were not directed at anyone,” a Channel 4 spokesman said. “Nobody in the house was offended and the incident was not broadcast, so no offence was caused to viewers.”

The 26-year-old later apologised to fellow housemate Brian, who was in the garden at the time of the incident, although Brian said he had not been offended. “We’ve lived with each other for 11 weeks and I know you’re not like that,” he said.

Brian was voted winner of the show on Friday night, while twins Amanda and Sam were runners-up.

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