One might think that you’d have to be living under a rock to not known about the escalating coronavirus pandemic. But it turns out you just have to live in the Big Brother house.
The 14-person cast of Germany’s newest season of Big Brother are unaware of the growing crisis and will be informed on live television on Tuesday night, according to several news organizations, including Radio Times and The -.
The cast has been living in isolation in a house in Cologne since Feb. 6, at which point the novel coronavirus was restricted to Wuhan and a few isolated cases around the world. Since beginning the show, they’ve had no updates from the outside world, apart from the addition of four housemates on March 6. Germany now has over 7,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19; 17 people have died there.
“Of course, the residents will be informed if there is reason to do so,” the show’s producers for German station Sat.1 initially told German paper Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Which information is given to the residents from outside is also decided in exchange with the relatives.”
They also claimed “special hygiene measures” were being taken to protect the contestants.
However, an uproar led producers to announce that the contestants will be told the news in a live special episode, now set to air Tuesday night before the show’s regular time slot at 7 p.m. Reportedly, the housemates will be able to ask questions about the state of the nation and receive video messages from relatives.
This is not the first time Big Brother producers have had to temporarily halt their social experiment to inform participants of an emergency. In 2001, the producers of the American version interrupted the show’s second season to tell the final three contestants about 9/11.
Strangely, this turn of events was semi-predicted in Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker’s 2008 series Dead Set, which follows a group of Big Brother U.K. housemates in the wake of a zombie apocalypse, stranding the cast and crew inside the house and leaving them the last to know about the crisis. It was shot inside the actual U.K. Big Brother house and featured host Davina McCall.
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