Endemol Shine and Viacom’s Channel 5 remain in discussions over the future of long-running reality series Big Brother in the UK despite tabloid claims that it has been axed.

British tabloid newspaper The Daily Star reported this weekend that the show had been “killed off after 18 years.” However, Endemol sources have said that there is no truth to the current reports and I understand that both companies are still in discussions over future series when the contract for the house-based entertainment format ends later this year.

Celebrity Big Brother is currently on air, featuring stars including Made In Chelsea’s Ashley James (pictured), pop star Ginuwine and politician Ann Widdecombe. The existing contract between the 21st Century Fox-owned producer and the commercial broadcaster includes one further civilian series and another celeb edition, both planned for later 2018.

The future of Big Brother in the UK has been up in the air since Channel 5 Director of Programmes Ben Frow said that he’d be “much happier with a channel that did not have Big Brother on it”. Speaking at the Edinburgh International TV Festival in August, Frow said that he “loves the ratings” but that he wanted to create “our own programmes”. He added that a reliance on the format gave Initial a “gun to his head” in renegotiations.

Following Frow’s comments over the summer, Endemol Shine UK Chief Executive Richard Johnston told me that Endemol Shine’s top “creative brains” were planning to “overhaul” the format. He said that the firm was “totally committed” to working with C5 to make “Big Brother as brilliant and relevant as it can possibly be”. “We have some of the best creative brains in the business looking at not only [in 2018] year but the next 10 years, in terms of creative direction. There are some really exciting ideas being discussed,” he added.

The show, which is produced by Endemol Shine’s Initial in the UK, opened earlier this month with its smallest launch audience for a January series since it transferred from C4 to C5 in 2011. However, it remains one of C5’s most popular show, more than quadrupling its slot average and performing particularly well with female viewers.

Big Brother was one of the shows responsible for helping C5’s portfolio of channels to its best ratings in 13 years and in 2016, the celebrity edition accounted for 39 of C5’s top-50 programmes.

The UK edition is one of the key international editions of the John De Mol-created show, which is currently on air in nearly 30 territories and is thought to generate around $21M for Endemol Shine in the UK. Last year, Endemol Shine Group Chief Creative Officer Peter Salmon said that the show was finding new audiences on SVOD services such as CBS All Access in the U.S.