After Hannah Campbell was evicted from the house on June 30, Channel 7 released a promo for Sunday’s episode, showing Big Brother telling the housemates that production would be halted for two days.
Camera operators would be no longer, and the mounted cameras in the house would be motionless.
Shocked (with mouths agape), the nine remaining contestants were left confused and concerned, as they wandered around the house staring into still cameras.
On July 2, host Sonia Kruger told Sunrise how the housemates reacted to the news.
“Things were happening so quickly on the outside and I think when we got to about 100 cases [in early March], the decision was made to let the housemates know, that there was a global pandemic,’ she said during the interview.
“I think they thought we were joking. Then we got to 1,000 cases [later in the month], and one of our crew members had a brush with the virus. The game shut down.”
According to Kruger, while the cast felt “safe” inside the compound, there was a growing concern for their families.
‘They wanted information but most of them were quite happy because they knew they were in a safe place,’ she said. “They were concerned about their families on the outside.”
Sophie Budack and Daniel Gorringe were particularly worried, as Budack’s mother and sister were living in Amsterdam and Gorringe’s girlfriend, Anna, was on a holiday in the US.
As a result of their concerns, Big Brother allowed the housemates to speak to their families.
“What you see in [Sunday’s] episode is we actually let them speak to those loved ones on the outside,” she said.
“It’s like witnessing a moment in history because these people have had no real exposure to what’s going on.”
On July 1, a video was released of Kruger explaining the situation to a camera.
“A Big Brother crew member has been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. The decision has been made, to pause the game,” she told the camera.
In an interview with TheLatch— on June 5, Kruger said they were lucky, because there as “no major disruption when we were shooting it”.
“Just about every other Australian production had been shut down,” she said.
WATCH NEXT: The Big Brother Shutdown. Story continues…
While they've been isolated in the House, the outside world has changed. Big Brother Australia goes into lockdown. Sunday 7.00 on Channel 7
Posted by Channel 7 on Tuesday, 30 June 2020
According to Kruger, the housemates were “sceptical” of the news at first and weren’t sure what to believe.
“It was a more a case of getting them to believe us because they’re very sceptical and very suspicious because they’re very wary of what is told to them in the Big Brother house.
“They don’t know if Big Brother is actually giving them the real deal or if they’re being led up the garden path.
“So, with this particular situation, our executive producer spoke to them so they understood the gravity [of it]. When I spoke to them next about it, I told them about the shopping centre brawl over toilet paper and they absolutely 100% did not believe me.”
On Tuesday, March 17, production company Endemol Shine released a statement to News.com.au saying that the contestants had since been made aware of the rising situation which was happening outside the confines of their home,
“Endemol Shine Australia takes the health and safety of our crew and contestants extremely seriously,” the spokesperson told the outlet.
“We are working in line with current guidelines and production on Big Brother is continuing.
“Housemates have been brought across the current situation and we are in constant contact with the families to keep all involved up to date.”
During an interview with Sunrise on March 20, host Sonia Krueger spoke about how the housemates reacted when they were told.
“We advised the housemates last Friday. Our executive producer went into the house and spoke to them through the diary room.”
The housemates were understandably “shocked, as most people would be learning the news about a worldwide pandemic”, she told hosts, David Koch and Natalie Barr.
While the show is being pre-recorded and editing will take place, Endemol Shine chose not to record the conversations that took place.
“We felt it was probably better to do it this way,” Kruger said, before adding that there was a “wellness manager” who keeps in touch with the contestant’s families and will tell them if anyone close to them is affected.
“The last thing we want is for them to be concerned about their friends and family,” Kruger said.
According to News.com.au, the cast is already well into filming the reboot and are likely to be in one of the safest places they could be.
The new Big Brother house was built in total isolation, in a purpose-built compound and was supplied with food and essentials — including toilet paper.
The show, which has no official air-date as yet, is being pre-recorded and according to TV Blackbox, the exact location of the new series has been revealed as Sydney’s North Head Sanctuary, AKA The Barracks — the same location used by Network Ten’s The Biggest Loser Australia: Couples.
“There are two possible locations within the precinct the could facilitate the production,” the outlet revealed.
The first possible location is the ‘Artillery Shed’.
The Shed is “big enough to build an entire house inside with camera runs to allow filming from all angles.”
The second possibility, and according to the site “more likely”, is the ‘Artillery Gym’, due to its much larger space at 842.7 m².
The location also allows for tight security with restricted access.