Big Brother Canada’s back for a fifth season beginning this Wednesday (March 15)! The first twist of this season will see the return of previous houseguests Gary Levy, Neda Kalantar, Kevin Martin, Bruno Ielo, Ika Wong, Dallas Cormier, Sindy Nguyen and Cassandra Shahinfar.
New houseguests this year are Andre “Dre” Gwaneaella (of Montreal), Mark Chrysler (of Edmonton), William Laprise Desbiens (of Trois-Rivieres), Emily Hawkins (of Lindsay), Demetres Giannitsos (of Edson), Karen Sinbeil (of Victoria), Dillon Carman (of Madoc) and Jackie McCurrach (of Port Coquitlam).
We had the opportunity to chat with series host Arisa Cox ahead of the premiere to find out more about this year’s intergalactic theme, changes to the post-eviction interview and the show’s international appeal.
What can you tell us about the new theme this season? I hear it’s “out of this world!”
It’s out of this world. That’s right. We’ve got an intergalactic theme this year. The houseguests are boarding the BBCAN Odyssey. As you know, this is a mixed season. Half are returning houseguests and the other half are first-timers. The idea is that it’s “the past vs. the present in the fight for the future!” You wait until you see this house! It’s incredible.
What can you tell us about the changes to the house?
Every year it has a completely different look and feel. This year is no different! It’ll be great for sci-fi fans! It’s such a fantasy and is beautifully done. We put a lot of attention into the details and you’ll see that again this year. If you love sci-fi and space, you’ll love the house. There are so many references to things that we love. It’s a thrill. It’s the house that I would want to live in out of all the houses that we’ve done.
Would you finally go in and play?
Oh, god no! Not even a thought. I really enjoy watching strategy and game-play unfold. I really like observing human behaviour. If I were in the house, I’d be really upset that I couldn’t spy on everyone else 24/7. [Laughs] I think I’m probably a little too trusting. I mean, you know the game, you’ve seen people fall for the same tricks time and time again. It’s unbelievable. People have this desire to trust others. “They looked in my eyes and said this,” or “They swore on their kids lives.” And they believed it. People want to believe these things. People then feel comfortable and that is something that you should never be. The second you start feeling comfortable is the moment you should start feeling scared.
Do you think it’ll be easier for the returning houseguests this time around?
I think that it’s impossible to tell. I think that it’ll be easier for some people at a certain point but it’ll also be harder for people at other points. There’s no hard and fast rule as to how these people will interact because not all of them get along (out of the returning houseguests). But then all of the new houseguests will be getting along [when they enter the house]. What you’d have to do [as a returning houseguest]is to make an alliance with all the new players and then slowly target all the returning players. Right? They’ve already had a chance, they’ve got experience! Do you think that’s going to happen, though?
I feel like the newbies will be too trusting and may not turn on the returning houseguests right away.
Who knows? Right, in Big Brother 18 (U.S.) they only had four returning houseguests and the new players still couldn’t get it together! The one person who did understand the threat that the returning houseguests presented, Jozea, was ousted what, second?
And he was the laughing stock for so long! He called himself the messiah, but guess what? He called Nicole out as the biggest threat and then she won the whole game. They had four! At least in this season, we’ve got eight versus eight. You’ll see how people who should have it together, not have it together and that’s human behaviour!
You mentioned returning houseguests not all getting along. Could there be a clash of personalities? We’ve got some big ones like Gary, Neda and even Dallas.
What I think is interesting of Big Brother is that we’ve got people who are attracted to the idea of being on the show. That’s not every person. That takes a very brave individual. Sometimes brave is on the other side of foolish… It takes a very specific person to want to be on camera for that long. To not feel self-conscious on camera for that long, you’ve got to be really secure in who you are and the ones who aren’t, get picked off right away. Because you’ve got these types of big personalities, people who are used to being the center of attention might resent someone else who gets more attention than them! Even if they know logically that they should be working with this person and not against this person, people will still filter their logic through their emotions. They can look at things in a cold and calculated way but then they’ll realize that it doesn’t work that way. There are some people who are better at that than others. Neda’s one of those people. Kevin is one of those people. Gary can be one of those people. So, we’ll see!
There’s been a lot of attention on the returning houseguests because everyone is so excited to see them again, but out of the new ones, who should we watch from the start? Is there anyone that’s standing out for you right now?
I’m going to say that they’re all going to be interesting in different ways. I won’t put money on any horse because I’ve been surprised so many times… For instance, there’s reason to target the very physical players — someone who looks like they’re going to win the physical challenges. That would be great… Except that someone might realize that it’s better to use the physical players as a soldier in your alliance to win challenges for you. And then if there’s someone who’s gameplay isn’t perfect, they could be picked off at a later date. In the meantime, you can work with them. It really all depends on how the alliances shape out in the very first couple of weeks. Usually, the alliances stand the test of time but then sometimes they’ll fall apart.
I wanted to congratulate you on winning BBSPY’s Best Host award for last season!
I love you BBSpy! That was a huge honour.
There’s such an international reach that this show has even though it doesn’t air outside of Canadian television. How do you feel about this worldwide appeal?
Big Brother has been going for 20 years almost… It’s in so many countries around the world and every Big Brother has its own flavour. I could not be prouder that ours is considered as one of the best in the world. We are still the new kids on the block and we’ve only been around for five seasons but one thing we do is up our game every year. I don’t think we phone it in at all.
That’s for sure. Some summers while watching the U.S. version, you’re ready for it to be over.
Shows have such a shorter shelf life in Canada [think Canadian Idol, So You Think You Can Dance Canada]. So if they’re not innovative or evolving with their audience, those shows will go away. We don’t want this show to go away. I’m so proud of our show. It’s grown a lot since season one. Our job is to make the most entertaining show we can for Canada, and if other people in other countries are thrilled by that and want to come and watch, then, by all means, watch!
I’ve noticed that the competitions in Canada are far more entertaining than the ones in the U.S., and I’ve watched all of those seasons. Last year, I felt that we got the U.S. version to up their comp game.
Well, did you know that Trevor Boris, who is the supervising producer on our show went to work on the U.S. version last summer?
There we go! Good for him. As long as he’s back in Canada for this season.
Yes. We have an incredible team thanks to our supervising producers Sue Brophie and Erin Brock. They’ve got so much vision. They start working on the next season in the summertime. They work closely with Pete Faragher, who’s in charge of all the set design. Erin starts brainstorming in the summer and they come up with goals and then bring it to life. They’re a really strong team and I think that helps every other department. We all bring our A game and we all kinda try and outdo and impress each other. I think that it shows when people are really proud and passionate about a project. I think that’s why we’re still around.
It definitely shows. One of the changes this year is that the Big Brother Side Show is no more. Instead, there will be in-depth interviews with evicted houseguests on Facebook Live following each eviction on Thursday.
I came from the world of journalism. I started out as a news reporter before I became a host so I jump at any chance to have longer and more in-depth interviews! That’s where you get the gold, right? There’s a lot that we have to get through in an hour-long eviction episode (like a guest) so we might not have time to do a proper interview. Even with the Side Show to be honest, the evicted houseguests are only on for a couple of segments and we had a few different people asking them questions. They won’t get a chance to talk as much as we’d hope, right? I’m excited about a chance to go deeper with them. I think it’s going to be great for the houseguests as well. It’ll be fresh off the eviction, so some of them may still even be in shock. But, I think the ability to be able to talk it out at the end without being rushed off the stage is going to be really good for them to put things in perspective and to vent. There could be a lot of juice there. And we get to do that with an audience!
Will previous houseguests like Peter Brown and Sarah Hanlon drop by, or will it just be with you and the evicted houseguests?
Right now, it’s a one on one situation. It would be difficult to do something like that because of the returning houseguests. I think this way, it keeps it nice and clean.
It was just announced that there’s going to be a special installation at Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto which will allow visitors to experience the season one “power-of-veto” Human Curling challenge. What can you tell us about this?
Yes! It’s cool — it’s human curling! People are going to slide around on a huge block of ice. Trevor Boris, who I just mentioned, will be there in the morning of Thursday, March 16, as a challenge producer. People can compete for prizes! If you’re interested, if you love Big Brother or if you want to see how well you can do at these challenges, which are so much harder than they look, definitely come out to Yonge-Dundas Square. It’s going to be going 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday (March 16) and Friday (March 17) in honour of our first week of episodes!
Big Brother Canada premieres Wednesday, March 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Global and continues to air Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT, Thursday at 8 p.m. ET/PT, and Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Viewers can catch up on BBCAN the net day on GlobalTV.com and Global Go.