"Big Brother Canada" temporarily shut down its free online live feeds after fervent cheating claims and allegations surrounded a contestant's "Head of Household" (H.O.H.) win on Thursday night.
Nova Scotian Emmett Blois won power in the weekly H.O.H. competition, but viewers were quick to scrutinize his victory on Twitter and Facebook.
In the challenge, houseguests raced around the backyard in giant SNL-style bee costumes to gather plastic balls of "pollen" from artificial flowers. As with most reality show competitions, there was a catch: the contestants could not use their hands, and had to use mesh netting around their legs to complete the task properly. However, online screen captures show Blois seemingly palming at least one of the pollen balls.
The official "Big Brother Canada" Facebook page responded to the show's recent controversy, writing, "We know you are curious about last night’s H.O.H. competition and we assure you that the situation is being addressed. Tune in to Slice this Sunday night at 9pm ET/PT to find out more!" on Friday afternoon. However, how the "Big Brother Canada" producers will address this possible scandal remains to be seen.
The show's host Arisa Cox told the Canadian Press the footage will be reviewed to see if "appropriate action needs to be taken." In the interim, the show's live feeds have been down since roughly 1:45 p.m. EST on Friday, and the dead air extends to the show's After Dark program, which airs nightly on Slice TV at 2 a.m. EST. The after-hours live show will return on Sunday morning, according to the show's official Twitter feed.
"Big Brother Canada" has used its free constantly-streaming online live feeds as a social media push for the show, and as a selling point with the Canadian audience, who would typically pay for similar access for "Big Brother"'s American incarnation.
Cox also told the news agency, "It did look like Emmett had been holding a ball or two," but that it would not result in an instant disqualification from the game.
"I'm not suggesting he'll be kicked out of the house or anything," she said. "Emmett is a wonderful, wonderful houseguest in that people love him or they despise him. Which is fabulous for the show, of course. But there will be moves."
There are a few theories floating around the Internet about why the feeds have been temporarily shut down. Some suggest the H.O.H. competition will have to be redone in full or that the contestants will receive punishments, while others write that fellow houseguest Tom Plant quit the game. None of these rumours have been confirmed by any member of the "Big Brother Canada" production team, but viewers have been promised answers when Sunday's episode airs on Slice.
If confirmed, this will not be the first instance of cheating in the "Big Brother Canada" house during its inaugural season. The houseguests were given comfort penalties when the show's production team discovered one of the house's cameras had been tampered with. The competitors were also penalized for not sleeping in their assigned bedrooms. In a similar vein, contestant Alec Beall has been caught on camera talking about how he loves cheating in competitions and, "bending the rules," and will continue to do so until he gets caught.
Still, repeating an H.O.H. competition is also not entirely unprecedented. In "Big Brother All-Stars," the seventh season of the American show, contestants had to redo a Head of Household competition due to a technical problem.
Just eight episodes in, "Big Brother Canada" has smashed Canadian viewership records for Slice TV, and its website. But more importantly, what should be done — and when can we get our feeds back?