“Big Brother is as mischievous as ever! Episode One hits off with a secret mission,” Big Brother Executive Producer Amelia Fisk tells TV Tonight.
“I feel like we’ve taken the best parts and put it into a jam-packed, entertaining 90 minutes of television.
“Every episode there are outcomes and pace. It’s got everything that we love about Big Brother which is hilarious house tasks and soap opera that comes from living within a bunch of strangers. But then there’s a new injection of game where they have to vote themselves out.”
Big Brother 2020 has shaken up a 20 year format under Fisk, whose work on Australian Survivor has been a hit with fans and Network 10.
Now Seven is hoping a rebooted version of the Dutch-created show will spruce up its schedule. Fisk, who worked on two seasons of the UK and one of the Australian series, has looked to more recent versions for inspiration.
This sees fundamental changes including a highly-produced series, no Live eviction shows with audience voting (the grand final will return both), and housemates who vote to evict their own. Like Survivor, each episode entails a challenge and nominations ceremony -including the first.
“There are definitely elements of Survivor“
“There are definitely elements of Survivor in that they have to vote each other out and big challenges, but it’s definitely been inspired by the Canadian / US format of Big Brother,” she continues.
“What you don’t get from the Live element is made up by the fact that there are now these game elements and the entertainment generated by housemates voting each other out.”
While the original Australian series entailed half hour Daily shows, producers now benefit from editing episode one with the knowledge of who their final 3 housemates are. Gone is the 24 hour edit.
“An edited version gives us time to tell the stories in the most exciting way. There is no pressure of turning around an episode in 24 hours, which was What used to happen in Big Brother.”
“It’s not salacious, it’s got great heart, humour and game”
There is also no Up Late edition, no Live streaming cameras, no Friday Night Games -but there will be a 7plus digital Eye Spy companion show discussing the action. With no house spa (there is a pool) Seven will also avoid the rudest bits for which the show became notorious on 10.
“It’s family-friendly viewing. It’s not salacious, it’s got great heart, humour and game. There’s something for everyone. So we’re really aiming towards the 25 to 55 year old audience…. something that everyone can sit down and watch.
“Obviously there is what (Language) we can get through with our rating, but it’s bleeped where needed.”
In rebooting the series Seven has also taken the opportunity to embrace a more diverse Australia. Housemates include Kenyan, Fijian, Korean and Chinese heritage, plus gay and older housemates, aged 19 – 62.
“We were just inundated with over 50,000 people applying. The early Big Brothers captured a real cross section of Australia. Everyone was represented, I guess,” Fisk recalls.
“It’s not just a bunch of 20-somethings living in a house.”
“But we wanted to get older housemates. I think our ages are 19 to 62 years old. So it’s not just a bunch of 20-somethings living in a house. There is someone for everyone and they’re all in there because they’ve got motivation. They’re all in there for a reason. It’s not just about wanting to be on TV.
“Angela is TV gold. She is just entertaining. She’s happy to play the game but she does it in an entertaining way and it’s completely real. Kieran is your loveable guy who kind of bumbles his way through. And Sarah is an amazing pocket-rocket, only 4 foot 11, with a tough upbringing. She’s someone to be celebrated, I guess, in Australia.”
“The aim is to get $250,000…. but there might be a curve ball at the end of the series”
12 enter the series tonight with another 4 on Tuesday and the final 4 on Wednesday.
“They are late housemates. I can confirm there won’t be intruders,” she reveals.
“The aim is to get $250,000. That’s the prize money. I’m not going to reveal anything more, but there might be a curve ball at the end of the series.”
Sonia Kruger returns as host, and will conduct a daily nominations ritual from monitors. While housemates are watched from 65 cameras, filming was interrupted when a crew member had come into contact with somebody tested positive. Housemates were also told about Covid-19.
“We had to quickly get that crew member off to get tested. Until we found out the result we had to suspend production.
“Whilst the rigged cameras continued to record, there were limited crew members running the house. The majority of crew was off-site until we found out about 48 hours later and got back up and running, when the result came back negative,” Fisk confirms.
“We will be leaning in to that moment, when it happened. That’s what Big Brother is.”
“We will be leaning in to that moment, when it happened. That’s what Big Brother is. The housemates started noticing all the cameras leaving the camera runs and the rigged cameras stopped following. So they knew something was up before we told them.
“But when you are hermetically sealed off from any kind of germs it was the safest place in the world!”
Much is riding on the success of the multi-million dollar series. While die-hard fans have questioned the non-live element, Fisk is hoping the social and gameplay that has fired up Survivor will strike twice.
“The benefit of having a super-brand like Big Brother is that people will come from other networks to have a look at Episode One. So we’re hoping that they’ll come and watch and want to stay.”
Big Brother begins 7:30pm tonight on Seven.
Update: Embargoed review will run at 7:30pm AEST tonight (please take note for other timezones).