Berlin, March 20 (IANS) Contestants of the German “Big Brother” were informed about the COVID-19 pandemic on camera during the show.
The contestants entered the “Big Brother” house over a month ago, and the first cases of COVID-19 were barely being reported from Wuhan in China when they walked in. They had no idea that the disease had acquired pandemic proportions over the past weeks.
At the last count, over 6,000 cases of coronavirus and 13 deaths have been reported in Germany, reports bbc.com.
Some housemates broke into tears when they were shown a video that made them aware of the situation outside. They were then allowed to ask questions to the show’s resident doctor. The housemates also watched video messages from their relatives. One contestant started crying, and worried about her mother who has a lung condition.
The relatives of the contestants tried to lighten up the atmosphere. Some of them joked that the “Big Brother” contestants were probably in the safest place in Germany right now, and asked if they could bring some toilet rolls back. There has been a shortage of the product in many western countries.
The makers decided to inform the contestants about the pandemic after facing severe criticism from viewers for keeping the 14 men and women locked inside the house in Cologne in the dark. Four contestants who joined the show on March 9 had been told not to talk about the coronavirus.
Standard rules of the game lay down that housemates would be informed about happenings in the outside world only in the case of the death of a close relative or friend, the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung reported.
However, the broadcasting channel SAT. 1 decided to update the rulebook after “consultation with relatives” of the contestants.
German contestants were not the only ones who were not aware about the crisis.
Contestants of the Canadian “Big Brother” had been wondering for a while why they weren’t hearing a live audience outside during a recent eviction. While one of the contestants felt the house might be soundproof, they were not aware that live audience had been stopped from attending the show since March 12.
The housemates have since been updated “on the domestic and international status of COVID-19”, and informed that all their family members are doing fine.
The Canadian show’s resident doctor also “determined that no houseguests have exhibited any signs or symptoms related to COVID-19”.
Upon being informed the housemates have decided to stay on the show.