Sun, Aug 08, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Transsexual claims victory on UK TV's `Big Brother'

`PORTU-GEEZER' Jorge-turned-Nadia kept her secret for 70 days of round-the-clock surveillance and through four rounds of `eviction' votes by over 7 million viewers

AFP , LONDON

A Portuguese transsexual bank clerk was the talk of all Britain on Saturday after she won the fifth series of the "Big Brother" TV program and claimed ?63,500 (US$117,000) in prize money from the series.

With her squawking voice and grating laugh, Nadia Almada, 27, initially seemed unlikely to endear herself to the British public, only to emerge at the end with 74 percent of viewers' votes.

"I'm speechless. I can't say anything. I have no words to describe my feelings," said the woman formerly known as Jorge as the series concluded Friday night.

With an exuberant character and a full figure, Almada -- branded "Portu-geezer" in tabloid newspapers -- survived four "eviction" votes before ultimately winning the nation over in the reality series.

Throughout her time in the house, which was kept under round-the-clock TV surveillance for 70 days, Nadia kept secret the fact she was born a man from her fellow housemates.

"It wasn't a secret," Almada said. "It was more a reassurance of myself, it was my self-ambition to achieve... There were moments when I felt I would just come clean and be honest about it."

"Big Brother" first appeared on British television in 2000, but suffered low ratings before this year's series, which pulled as many as 7.7 million viewers a night.

Other contestants this season were as varied as a 44-year-old former asylum seeker from Somalia and a lesbian anarchist named Kitten who was kicked out on day eight for breaking the rules too often.

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