They might not be the perfect dinner guests, but the Big Brother housemates' drinking habits are making one German wine producer very happy indeed.

Jonny, Jade, Kate and Alex regularly drink late into the night in the hit UK ‘reality TV’ series, in which a group of ordinary citizens are incarcerated in a house to be voted out, one at a time, by their fellow inmates – and the viewing public.

They have a generous budget for food and drink, and their wine of choice, Black Tower, is flying off the shelves as a result of their endorsement. Supermarket chains Somerfield and Kwiksave have reported a leap of 40% in sales this month.

The foursome (Jonny and Kate pictured) even prefer the much-mocked sweet white in the squat black bottle to Dom Perignon. When deciding on Champagne they opted for the cheaper Laurent Perrier so that they could buy more Black Tower.

In terms of real and perceived popularity, Big Brother and Black Tower share characteristics. The former is regularly lambasted by critics but enjoys audiences of over 7m. Few wine critics would taste the latter, but it is still the 18th top seller in the UK.

‘We had a very positive response to the brand from consumers at a recent promotional tasting – they say they have seen it on Big Brother.’ Brand manager Oliver Dickie said.

Other brands are eager to cash in on the Big Brother effect. Producers of Lambrini, a sweet, sparkling perry (pear cider), have offered Kate a six-figure sum to become the new face of Lambrini. Although the housemates have not been seen actually drinking Lambrini, they are confident that it can compete with Black Tower.

Kate’s recent antics – falling over while trying to remove her trousers, and having to resort to a bucket by her bed – have not dampened Lambrini’s enthusiasm. A spokesperson said, ‘That hasn’t put us off Kate as the new face of Lambrini – it fits with the Lambrini image that girls just want to have fun.’

Written by Josie Butchart24 July 2002