But there’s one person, that remains the same from the most recent recreation of the series — host, Sonia Kruger.
Kruger, who is about to embark on her fourth year of BB hosting duties, is excited for Australia to see what the new format has in store — even though she was a little unsure whether she should take the top job again.
“In all honesty, I was a little bit hesitant,” she said in an interview with TheLatch— before the premiere of the new season. “I didn’t know how I was going to reimagine the show for 2020, however, when I sat down and spoke to the producers about what they had planned, everything went out the window and I was like, ‘I am there’.”
However, while the shine and shimmer of the new house is certainly going to be a spectacle, Big Brother was filmed and is airing during arguably two of the world’s most life-changing events in recent years — the global coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Here, Kruger speaks about how the house was impacted during filming and why it is so important to have a culturally diverse group of housemates, especially now.
Anita Lyons: Hi Sonia, I’m so excited for the new season. How did it feel taking the reigns again?
Sonia Kruger: When they said to me there will be an eviction every episode, that there will be a monumental challenge and the challenge will be supersized and that the housemates will be people who aren’t run of the mill reality television types — I was excited.
Even the way the housemates come into the house, in the past, they have a standard set of luggage and the producers said, we want them to bring their own luggage because that actually says a lot about a person.
On the first night, somebody even turns up with a backpack for a potentially two-month stay.
AL: What?! A backpack?!
SK: I know! In the backpack they have other objects, they don’t have a lot of clothes.
Somebody actually asked me if I felt like I was taking a step back in time and I said, “I actually feel like I’m taking a step into the future. The house is really futuristic. It has 65 cameras and fibre optic cables in the wall, that when Big Brother speaks, you feel his presence.
In fact, even the outfits I wear are all very futuristic. When you do a show, you look for clothes that reflect the show that you’re working on and Big Brother very much has that vibe that is sleek and it’s futuristic and it’s metallic. It’s not sequins, it’s not frou-frou, or glitzy. It’s got that minimalist vibe to it in a way.
AL: Why do you think the new format of nominating and evicting each other is such a great move?
SK: The fact that there is an eviction every single episode is very exciting because you’ve got to have a lot of patience to get through a week for eviction don’t you? We want our television to give us an outcome every single episode and that’s what BB20 does.
When someone wins a challenge, they then nominate three housemates for eviction and when that news is delivered, watching that dynamic change — one minute they’re having a great time, next minute there’s a lot of paranoia that starts to shift and the drama is really powerful.
One minute you’re laughing because something hilarious is happening and then the next minute, you’re feeling all that jeopardy because someone is about to go home. And even in that first episode when somebody leaves, you think, “wow, they were chosen from 53,000 people and they were the first person out.”
AL: What do you think about the casting this year?
SK: The casting of the show is actually really great. They’ve chosen people who are intriguing on so many different levels. I love the fact that there are alpha types but that there are also really shy, retiring, almost introverted types too. That’s such a reflection of society. Some are really quite shy and reserved to see those people in the house and how they operate. There’s a lot of strategies that have to be employed in this game right now. At the end of the day, Australia decides who wins.
Is somebody who has played a brilliant strategic game going to be in the final three? Or will they vote with their heart and just go with the person that they love?
AL: Continuing on what you were saying about how different the housemates are this year, they’re also from such a diverse range of backgrounds. Why do you think it so important, especially now, to highlight cultural diversity in Australia?
SK: I think it’s important to reflect our society as it stands. It’s a reality show and so there has to be that degree of reality. It’s brilliant to see diversity in age group — 19 year-olds to 62-year-olds in their economic backgrounds. Some have come from nothing and other people who have been more privileged. We have different ethnicities and people from different cultural backgrounds. I think it’s important to have diversity across all of those areas to really reflect society.
AL: While the show has been filming we’ve seen two life-changing events — the coronavirus pandemic, and the Black Lives Matter movement. How do you think this will impact the show?
SK: Wow, that’s a good question. So, the pandemic obviously impacted our program because we were in the middle of shooting it, but we were lucky because there was no major disruption when we were shooting it, just about every other Australian production had been shut down.
But to have to inform the housemates of a global pandemic, it’s just unlikely, isn’t it? You just can’t even imagine that there would ever be a situation.
AL: Were you nervous about telling them about what was going on in the outside?
SK: Well, no not nervous. 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.
AL: Fact is scarier than fiction sometimes! Good luck with the season, Sonia!
Big Brother begins on Monday 8 June at 7.30 pm.