Execs reveal casting struggles, prioritising welfare and discuss “Making Reality ‘Real’ Again”

 Execs reveal casting struggles, prioritising welfare and discuss “Making Reality ‘Real’ Again”

A recent Deadline article saw bosses of the upcoming BBUK reboot discuss the casting process for the new season, alongside the importance of prioritising welfare in light of the recent allegations against Russell Brand and how to make reality tv ‘real’ again.

Peter Tierney, the commissioner who has overseen ITV’s reboot, revealed producers had sifted through 300,000 applications and conducted 500 zoom interviews, searching for the ideal housemates in 2023.

Speaking ahead of the launch this Sunday on ITV, Tierney says the team have listened to audiences “telling us that they want real, authentic reality. They are aware of the way in which [some of] these shows are made, the directions you can push contestants in and the hands of the producer,” he adds.

But Big Brother presents us with the perfect opportunity to make reality ‘real’ again, providing a better opportunity for an environment that is conducive to real life than many other reality shows afford you.”

Peter Tierney, speaking to Deadline

Inital boss, Katy Manley also revealed that they are determined to let things play out naturally as much as possible.

“Lots of polished, glossy TV is out there but hopefully we are going back to something raw that has a hands-off producing style with a very fast turnaround edit,” adds Manley, who has worked on the ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 versions, starting as a task assistant two decades ago.

Katy Manley, speaking to Deadline

Katy also revealed that the casting process took a colossal 10 months and her team waded their way through 30,000 applications, eventually interviewing 500 people.

She says the “ubiquitous nature of Zoom” helped move the “thorough” process along and allowed for a new breed of contestant to put themselves forward. “Everyone is always changing, society is always shifting and the show can reflect that,” adds Manley.

Katy Manley, speaking to Deadline

Manley went on to add that “Satisfying superfans” while tapping into a new generation would be her biggest challenge.

“There is this core fanbase that have a connection to the show and we want to make them happy and live up to their expectatoins while also appealing to 16-24 year olds.”

Katy Manley, Speaking to Deadline

As for contestant and staff welfare, the recent allegations made against Russell Brand, some of which date back to his time working as host of Big Brother’s Big Mouth, has once again brought the issue into focus:

“Everyone used to know what Big Brother was but it’s been off air for five years so we wanted to make sure [contestants] understand what the show entails,” adds Manley. “Life in the house is really challenging – you are cut off from the outside world, your phone and the internet. It can be very boring at times and no one can predict what it will be like coming out of there.”

The British TV industry is “in a different place” since Brand allegedly committed some of his acts, Tierney says, and “duty of care and welfare of contributors is now as important as any other element of the show.”

Katy Manley & Peter Tierney, Speaking to Deadline.

Tierney concluded, revealing ITV aren’t necessarily targeting certain ratings:

“You don’t stand up a show like Big Brother with the thought that you might do a series, see how it goes and then maybe not do another,” he concludes.

“Hopefully on launch night people will look at the show and say ‘OK they are not messing around here’.”

Peter Tierney, Speaking to Deadline

Big Brother will return to screens on Sunday, October 8th at 9pm across the ITV family, and continue nightly, Sunday-Friday on ITV2. Nightly live feed will air exclusively on ITVX, 7 days a week.

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