Shockwaves as reality show ‘suspended’
A dramatic promo for Sunday's episode of Big Brother shows the contestants being sent into lockdown as a crew member is tested for COVID-19.
The housemates - who are usually kept in the dark about the goings-on of the outside world - were informed about the escalating pandemic in early March off-camera during filming for the prerecorded season, given the global health crisis was in its early days when the contestants first arrived to set.
In the latest promo for Sunday night's episode, the contestants are told about a crew member coming into contact with a positive case, with the crew distanced from the set as lockdown measures come into play.
Bringing the contestants together to the diary room, Big Brother is heard telling the confused cast: "Big Brother has been made aware that a crew member has come into contact with a confirmed coronavirus case. The Big Brother house will be placed in lockdown, and the game will be suspended."
In snippets from the episode, cameras are pulled from the walls of the house as the housemates puzzle over the news.
In March, An Endemol Shine Australia spokesperson shared the news of the crew member in a statement.
"We have been made aware that a Big Brother crew member has been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19," it said,
"The crew member is currently feeling well and showing no symptoms of the virus, however, is being tested and is now self-isolating.
"We continue to work within all Federal and State guidelines and will always make the health, safety and wellbeing of our cast and crew our number one priority. Housemates have been brought up to date with the current situation," the spokesperson said.
According to The Australian's Media Diary, housemates had limited access to mobile phones and information about the outside world in the house, so were unaware how much the coronavirus outbreak had escalated until they were informed by producers.
Recently-evicted contestant Shane Vincent shed light on the moment they all found out, sharing that the stars of the show were only made aware of the crisis after they saw these strange messages appear in the sky.
Vincent told Daily Mail Australia: "We didn't know anything about what was going on in the outside (world), we were sitting in the backyard one day and you know the skywriters, they were above us and writing like 'stop (the) F1'.
"And we were like, 'what the hell is going on?!'"
The reality star continued: "And the next day, a skywriter came up and said, 'wash your hands' in the sky. And we were like, 'wash your hands? What is going on out there?'
"A couple of days later, we had a meeting and they told us about COVID-19," he said.
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What a whirl wind 24hrs🌪 Even though I didn’t win the game I still feel like a winner. I would just like to thank everyone who supported me on this great journey, Family, Friends (new and old) the support over the past 24hrs particularly has been humbling. Also all the production staff and employees that worked so hard on BB 👀 #bbau
Sonia Kruger spoke on Sunrise in March to confirm the contestants had been told about the virus, joking that they were concerned the football codes may not go ahead.
Kruger said the housemates were "shocked, as most people would be learning the news about a worldwide pandemic", adding that they "were really quite concerned to hear about the football codes, NRL and AFL, potentially not going ahead".
Commenting on why the moment was not filmed by producers, she said: "We felt it was probably better to do it this way."
Big Brother continues on Sunday from 7pm on Channel 7.
Originally published as Shockwaves as reality show 'suspended'