Channel 4 has confirmed one of the worst-kept secrets in British TV — that The Circle is going to be renewed for a third season. It has also revealed there will be a celebrity version for charity Stand Up To Cancer, and the show will be tweaked because of the coronavirus crisis.
The Studio Lambert and Motion Content Group format will return to Channel 4 in early 2021, opening with a week-long celebrity edition, before everyday contestants enter the reality show, in which they catfish their way to a cash prize. It follows Netflix renewing The Circle for a second and third season in the U.S.
Production on Season 3 will begin in Salford, Greater Manchester, later this year, but it will all be pre-recorded as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, meaning there will be no studio audience or live shows. Emma Willis and comedian Sophie Willan will reprise their roles as host and voiceover respectively.
Even though The Circle does not attract huge audiences on TV, Channel 4 has long trumpeted its success with young viewers. It said Season 2 was its highest-rating 10PM show among the 16-34 demo since 2010, and was among streamer All 4’s top 10 shows of the year. Channel 4 is also keen to play up the fact that it has become an important source of work for TV freelancers in the north of England.
Executive producer Tim Harcourt said: “Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, people around the world have been learning the power of connecting remotely. Perhaps in the light of this, the new series will resonate even more for audiences as well as offer them the distraction of fun, warmth and strategy.”
The Circle series three and Celebrity Circle For Stand Up To Cancer (working title) were commissioned for Channel 4 by Gilly Greenslade, Vivienne Molokwu and Kelly Webb Lamb. The series is executive produced by Sarah Fay, Harcourt and Toni Ireland for Studio Lambert North and Martin Oxley for Motion Content Group.