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Oz Big Brother in dead dad ding-dong

Contestant unaware father has died

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The Oz version of human zoo Big Brother has copped flack for not telling a contestant her dad has died, the BBC reports.

Emma Cornell has been in the BB house for a month, and is unaware her father Raymond succumbed to cancer last week. The show has moved quickly to stem criticism of the decision not to inform her by publishing a letter on its website from Emma's brother Matt. It states:

Emma was aware of the possibility that our dads impending death may occur whilst she was in the Big Brother production. Our dad had been ill for a considerable amount of time and wasn't taken from us suddenly; the family did have time to prepare themselves. We reassured Emma that, in the event that this did happen, grieving our dad's death when she was released from Big Brother would be no less meaningful or significant than when he actually passed away.

Matt adds:

People may cast their own views and opinions but these people are not privy to Emma and dad's relationship. We as a family wouldn't want to interfere with anyone else's family affairs especially in their time of sadness so we're stunned by the reaction of so many that have based their opinions on a total lack of knowledge of our family's internal workings. As Emma's family we know her very well and are confident we have made the right decision.

Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement spokesman Chris Hall doubted the handling of the matter was in Cornell's "best interests". He said: "I still think that one needs to weigh up the risks in terms of following a course of action that may be well-intentioned but may ultimately not serve the bereaved person well."

Oz's Big Brother has a history of controversy. In 2006, two men were ejected from the house "after a female contestant claimed a man held her down while another rubbed his crotch in her face". The outrage prompted PM John Howard to demand the culling of "this stupid programme" - sadly to no avail.

In Blighty, meanwhile, Channel Four has been ordered to broadcast an apology over the Shilpa Shetty Celebrity Big Brother racism rumpus and to clean up its act for the forthcoming BB 8. ®

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