As people around the globe enter periods of self-isolation in a bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, there are small pockets of TV contestants who are, serendipitously, ahead of the curve.
The Big Brother format has been isolating people for decades, and seasons are in the midst of filming in numerous countries. In Germany, contestants entered the house on February 6, when COVID-19 was still largely contained in China and for most people in the West was a distant news headline rather than an impactful reality. To date the group remains entirely unaware of its spread. Four extra housemates entered the show on March 6, after the virus began to break out, but were given strict instructions not to mention it once inside.
Germany is one of the worst hit Euro nations, with 7,588 confirmed cases and 17 deaths. After the escalation of the outbreak, broadcaster Sat.1 has now decided to inform the contestants today (March 17) about the current situation. The network posted a note on its website confirming that a doctor will get the housemates up to date in a live episode tonight at 7 PM local time (11 AM PT), and they will also receive video messages of reassurance from relatives.
In Australia, where Big Brother began three weeks ago in Sydney, housemates have recently been updated of the coronavirus situation. The Aussie show is atypical in that it is not broadcast live, but 7News reported that producer Edemol Shine Australia has now informed participants of the situation.
Big Brother Canada is another iteration currently running and housemates have now also been told about the virus. The Toronto-shot show typically has a live audience, which was stopped last week, leaving housemates questioning why they couldn’t hear an audience reaction when one contestant was evicted at the weekend. According to Canada’s Global News, they have now been filled in by production co Insight Productions. Broadcaster Corus said it had no confirmed cases of the virus to date on any of its productions, but was monitoring the situation as filming continues. Canada has had fairly minimal COVID-19 spread to date, with 441 confirmed cases and four deaths.
One of the longest-running Big Brother shoots on which contestants remain unaware of coronavirus is in Brazil, where the housemates have been in isolation since January. According to local news sources including GZH, network Globo has confirmed it will now employ an expert to get the participants up to date, and will also reassure them that their families are all unaffected. Globo, like Corus, has suspended audiences on elimination days. The Brazilian broadcaster has also increased the limit on daily water consumption in the house 20-fold, so that contestants can wash their hands frequently.
Enhanced sanitation measures are being taken across Big Brother productions, though arguably the contestants could hardly be in a safer spot to wait out the pandemic.