Behind The Scenes Of The Reality Show Big Brother

Big Brother has been loved by everyone in the US and abroad for years. It was the original reality TV show that taught us about human relationships on the small screen. However, there are some secrets about the show that only those who went behind the scenes will know about.

Many of the contestants went on to become famous, and many of the stars on Celebrity Big Brother saw career success after the show. We are taking a closer look at the behind-the-scenes reality of Big Brother to find out more about the popular hit.

The Audition Process Is Extreme

 Big Brother auditions were held at the Myer Music Bowl today. Thousands participated many queing overnight. Hopefuls are put through their paces doing chicken impersonations.
Fairfax Media/Fairfax Media via Getty Images

Getting on the show is a huge achievement, just for the sheer volume of applications that the producers get each year. Housemates are cast based on a series of interviews that change every year. One year a YouTube video was on the list of requirements, while other years wanna-be contestants have been sent to a hotel as part of the audition process.

Showrunners and producers assess each person based on how entertaining they will be and quiz them on how they behave in different situations.

Contestants Can Leave At Any Point

although they feel stuck, contestants can leave
CBS/Big Brother

Despite the theme of feeling that they are trapped in there coming up frequently on the show, contestants can actually leave at any point through a door that’s located in the diary room. Although they are watched and listened to at all times while outside, past contestants have left via the emergency door and reentered the house after calming down.

Often, contestants feel like they want to leave but are calmed down by the production team behind the scenes to ensure that they are happy enough to stay.

It Was 24 Hours A Day

The show aired around the clock

Big Brother was the start of something big: 24-hour recording and live streaming. Contestants were filmed pottering around the house 24 hours a day. In fact, in the early years the live stream was available 24/7 on normal TV channels as part of a “social experiment.”

Then, once people transitioned to the internet, the 24-hour live feed stopped being available on TV and became an online-only luxury. It’s incredible to think that before the days of Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook Live, Big Brother was being watched 24/7 by people all over the world – crazy!

Jade Goody Was Diagnosed With Cancer On Big Brother

Jane Goody as she's evicted from Big Brother
Yui Mok – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Jade was famous for being on the early days of Big Brother, and like many of the contestants, became a household name through the show’s popularity. She then went back and did Celebrity Big Brother 5, which is when she got slated for being racist towards fellow contestant and Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty. Here (right), she’s pictured as she becomes the ninth contestant to be evicted from the show.

To tackle her haters head-on, Jade went to Big Brother India in 2008 to give their version of the show a try. What many don’t know is that jade was actually diagnosed with cancer during the second day of filming that show and had to fly home immediately. She tragically died shortly after in 2009.

Things Went Down In The Hot Tub

The Big Brother Hot tub saw lots of action
Channel 4/Big Brother

We can’t say for definite, but Big Brother was probably the first TV show to ever air real acts of intimacy. The scene of the crime? The hot tub.

While most of the contestants clearly thought that they couldn’t be seen properly by the cameras in the hot tub, they were very wrong. Who could forget the hot tub romp between Makosi and Anthony in Big Brother 6 that got the whole world talking? The trend continued for years and the hot tub was always the site of many drunken fumbles that were caught on camera… cringe!

Some Stars Got Special Treatment

Celebrity Big Brother Final
Ian Gavan/Getty Images

It’s been reported by news outlets like The Mirror that some celebrities who appeared on CBB over the years got special treatment. Nicola Mcclean — a UK glamor model and TV presenter who also went on the show — reported that Katie Price had blow dries to keep her gorgeous locks intact and that Patsy Kensit was allowed a spray tan.

We’re not sure how true this is, because it was only a claim made by Nicola which was relayed in an interview. However, many of the celebs who went on the show maintained their polished looks, so we can imagine it may be true.

The Title Of The Show Caused Chaos

A show host in front of the title

George Orwell’s 1984 uses the idea of Big Brother watching people in order to maintain social order and control — an idea that the show plays upon in concept and name.

The name of the show, Big Brother, prompted a legal case when a copyright infringement was filed against the producers and owners of the show for stealing ideas and names from the George Orwell novel. The lawsuit was slammed as silly, however, it did stand and CBS/Viacom settled the case with an undisclosed sum.

It’s Not A Natural Environment

The Big Brother set is completely manufactured
David Goddard/Getty Images

This one seems obvious — being locked in a house with a dozen other people isn’t natural, but the actual space itself is entirely man-made. The grass outside is all plastic and the whole garden is full of artificial plants. Whether this is because no one could water them, we don’t know.

However, it is likely that the lack of natural space and plants contributed to the feeling of entrapment that some of the contestants complained of over the years. Living in a totally unnatural environment is difficult for most people and the Big Brother contestants were no different.

The Production Crew Are Very Involved

A production member enters the set
CBS/Big Brother

Although the show mainly focusses on the contestants, the producers and showrunners are the ones who really make the show. They are very close to the Big Brother contestants and are virtually in the house with them behind mirrors and doors that are see-through for them.

They have to be super quiet while they watch the housemates and wear all black to keep themselves hidden. They have control over things like locks to the doors, hot water, heating, and what housemates are told to do while in the house – creepy!

It Doesn’t Take Long For The House To Get Dirty

The house gets pretty messy as seen in this bedroom
Global/Big Brother

The house doesn’t have cleaners throughout the show, so it doesn’t take long for everything to get pretty dirty. Each series there was always a huge bust-up between housemates about who is washing up, with some contestants not pulling their weight and others scrubbing the kitchen all day long.

Interestingly, there wasn’t cleanliness enforced even though there were often ant infestations in the kitchen during the hot summers. With many of the contestants desperate just to get airtime, the cleaning often got neglected. Oops!

Every Contestant Gets Money

Winning contestant
Channel 4/Big Brother

Obviously, the celebrity contestants get a set figure which is agreed upon, and essentially for them it’s part of their job. However, what most don’t know is that even the normal Big Brother contestants will snag some income from the show.

Many go on to have amazing careers which pay well, however, the show actually compensates them for their time. They get a stipend which covers their time away from work while in the house. Many of them will have to quit their jobs and leave their families to enter the show, so it makes sense that they get some income from it.

Contestants Often Need Counselling

contestants are offered counseling services
CBS/ Big Brother

Lots of the Big Brother contestants are thrust into the spotlight after living very normal lives, which can be intense for them. In order to help them get through this stress and cope with life after the house, Big Brother contestants are offered support from the show that often involves counseling.

It’s not a requirement, and indeed some contestants choose to go without it. However, for those who need the extra support, help is on hand. Opinions are divided on how the show deals with contestants’ mental health, but the general consensus is that they are a lot better with support than other reality shows.

Ray J Is Trying To Sue The Show

Ray J on leaving Big Brother
CBS/Big Brother

The singer Ray J is allegedly trying to sue the show after appearing on Celebrity Big Brother. The singer, who became famous for his scandal with Kim Kardashian, was struck down with a medical condition whilst on the show.

Allegedly, Ray J was feeling very unwell but the producers of the show wouldn’t let him leave to seek medical help when he asked. Instead, he was removed from the show after passing out and wasn’t paid in full for his time.

The Original Big Brother Was Dutch

Dutch Big Brother
CBS/ Big Brother

Although the show was a hit in the US, UK, and many countries around the world, the original Big Brother was a Dutch show. The TV show was famous in the Netherlands, and went on to be viewed by people all over Europe, which made producers think that there was something special about the show.

Endemol brought Big Brother to the rest of the world, and was nearly sued for doing so by the show Survivor which claimed that Big Brother had stolen ideas and formats from the show.

Contestants Have No Access To Media

Facebook Owned Messaging Service WhatsApp Announces Cybersecurity Breach Within App Allowing Hackers Access To Phone
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Whilst most of us can’t bear the thought of going more than half an hour with our phones, the contestants have no access to media during their time in the house. They are unable to connect with family or see what people are saying about them in the outside world.

In fact, their only understanding of how well they’re doing is by listening out for the cheers and boos that can be heard each week when eviction night comes round.

Big Brother Fans Throw Things Over The House Walls

Big Brother 6 fans wait outside the house
Yui Mok – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Despite the guests of the show not being able to access the house itself, fans have often made contact with the house by trying to break in or throwing thing over the wall at the contestants. There have even been cases where people have flown banners over the top of the house to get the housemates’ attention and cause a stir.

Luckily, the Big Brother team is very high on security and everyone goes into safety mode to ensure that the housemates are kept inside and away from any disturbances.

It Started As A Social Experiment

A control room with numerous monitors are set up for the new reality-based show
Chris Weeks/Liaison

When the show first started, it was meant to be a social experiment that opened viewers’ eyes to different personality types and how they interact in a controlled environment. The 2003 series took that a step further by inviting rich vs. poor people into the house to see whether that impacted the results.

Over the years the tasks did reveal a lot about social interactions and kept viewers entertained due to the fact that there is an interesting psychological element in the mix.

The Big Brother House Is Actually Quite Small

The new double bed in the boys room for the
Dave Hogan/Getty Images

The Big Brother house is actually set within a studio, which is a pretty small space. Not only are the housemates cramped in one area, but they also have to share a bedroom and bathroom space, which contributes to the rising tensions in the house.

The studio is also small, and holds space for guests and family and friends. The crew have portable cabins which they can stay in on site, as many of their shifts are overnight. The living space itself is surprisingly small — a fact which is cleverly disguised by multiple mirrors around the house.

Some Housemates Get Kicked Out

another big brother eviction

Often the show tries to conceal the real reasons that contestants are kicked out of the house, due to the backlash that they may get. Instead, they try to just claim there was an ‘incident’ and let the housemates reveal it to the press in their own time.

A number of housemates over the years have been kicked off the show by the producers for unsavory behavior that violates the show’s rules. In many cases, these have been derogatory remarks, racist comments, or misbehaving and upsetting other guests in an unacceptable way.

STD Testing Is Mandatory

a contestant looks shocked
Channel 4/Big Brother

We already touched on the frequently-used hot tub on the show. Not many people are aware that contestants on Big Brother are tested for STDs/STIs before joining the show.

Allegedly, contracts state that contestants “get tested for STDS but accept the risk of having sex with someone who might have HIV or an STD despite the results of those tests. Producers, however, do not ‘encourage any sexual activity among participants.'”