EXCLUSIVE: Squid Game: The Challenge faced an independent safety assessment after contestants on the Netflix reality series required medical attention during filming.
Britain’s Health and Safety Executive — or HSE as it is more commonly known — reminded producers to plan properly for risk on the re-creation of the blockbuster Korean drama, but ultimately decided that no further action was necessary.
One of the largest reality television shows ever mounted, responsibility for production was shouldered by two UK producers: Studio Lambert, maker of The Traitors, and The Garden, producer of 24 Hours in A&E.
HSE contacted producers after receiving concerns about conditions on set, though it declined to specify who raised these concerns. Deadline understands that Studio Lambert and The Garden also reported safety incidents to HSE, which is a legal requirement in the UK.
HSE reviewed processes on the show and closed the case. The watchdog did, however, remind producers to “plan properly for any risks” in future filming.
Netflix has confirmed that three of the 456 players competing in Squid Game: The Challenge received medical attention during the filming of ‘Red Light, Green Light,’ in which players must evade the attention of a menacing robotic doll.
Vice, Rolling Stone, and Variety were among the publications to detail issues during filming last month, when a cold snap in Britain created complications at Cardington Studios, a former Royal Air Force base in Bedford.
Rolling Stone, which carried the first in-depth report on Squid Game: The Challenge, said contestants faced “inhumane” conditions. Four players recalled how a two-hour game lasted up to nine hours in freezing temperatures, with one claiming he suffered a herniated disc and a torn knee tendon during production. Another participant claimed to have developed pneumonia and an ear infection.
One described a situation in which a woman was “convulsing on the floor” while other contestants remained frozen in place, scared of being eliminated. “It played on our morals and it’s sick. It’s absolutely sick,” said the player.
A spokeswoman for Squid Game: The Challenge said last week that “all the appropriate safety precautions” had been taken by the show. Following questions from Deadline, she said a fresh statement: “Netflix, Studio Lambert, and The Garden have done everything required by the health and safety legislation and the HSE have said they have assessed and closed the matter.”
HSE said: “We contacted the programme producers after receiving concerns about their recent filming. We reviewed the responses from the producers and decided to take no further action. We did stress to them the importance of planning properly for any risks in future filming.”
HSE’s ruling may not prevent certain contestants from launching a lawsuit after players told Rolling Stone that they were exploring legal action. They were angered, not just by the conditions, but by a sense the game was “rigged” to favor social media influencers. Netflix denied this.
Crew Member: Show Was No “Hellscape”
Production on Squid Game: The Challenge wrapped this week and a winner has walked away with a cash prize of $4.56M, the largest in the history of reality television.
A freelance crew member, who was not permitted to speak to Deadline, said the show was not the “hellscape” depicted in reports.
“‘Red Light, Green Light’ was unbearably cold, but there was no coercion to freeze in place. The contestants also did practice runs and stretches,” the source said. “With the type of people being cast, there are always going to be those who are likely to find issues with things, particularly if you fly a very long distance and you’re out in the first round.”
The source said there was an army of welfare assistants who “got paid to watch contestants sleep.” It is not known precisely how many crew looked after players, but a second source said that Studio Lambert had a welfare assistant for every contestant on The Traitors, the Peacock and BBC reality series.
The crew member added: “I had interaction with members of the cast in hotels and none of them expressed any sort of resentment, which you would expect at the end when people were so close to winning the competition. They’ve got no skin in the game.”
Studio Lambert and The Garden have been working to ensure crew members do not speak to the press after The Sun, the British tabloid newspaper, first reported issues during the filming of ‘Red Light, Green Light’ last month.
Jo Crawley, Director of Production, emailed colleagues asking them to be “extra vigilant” about answering calls from unknown numbers. “If anyone receives a call from a member of the press or someone they suspect to be a member of the press then please do not comment,” Crawley said in the email.
Netflix, Studio Lambert, and The Garden said: “We care deeply about the health of our cast and crew, and the quality of this show. Any suggestion that the competition is rigged or claims of serious harm to players are simply untrue. We’ve taken all the appropriate safety precautions, including aftercare for contestants – and an independent adjudicator is overseeing each game to ensure it’s fair to everyone.”
Max Goldbart contributed to reporting.
Must Read Stories
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.