Ever since the jaw-dropping finale of "Big Brother Canada" Season 1, fans of the genre have been salivating for the sophomore season to start up. (In case you can't recall, "Big Brother Canada" made international reality show history when Topaz mis-voted, accidentally choosing Jillian over her BFF Gary, who ultimately lost the game because of it.)
Season 2 of "Big Brother Canada" premieres Wednesday, March 5 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Slice, with a special presentation of the premiere also airing on Global. "Big Brother Canada" will continue to air three nights a week on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT. "The Big Brother Canada Side Show" -- new this season -- will air Thursdays, following each eviction episode, at 10 p.m. ET/PT. In case that isn't enough, "Big Brother After Dark" will air seven days a week from 2 a.m. – 5 a.m. ET/11 p.m. – 2 a.m. PT.
HuffPost Canada TV was one of the lucky few to be invited to the "Big Brother Canada" set, new and improved for Season 2. It's a new house, with different contestants (who will be announced this Wednesday morning), and a whole new feel. We spoke to Season 1 contestants Gary and Peter, production designer Pete Faragher, supervising producer Sue Brophy and returning host Arisa Cox about what fans and newbies alike can expect from "Big Brother Canada" Season 2.
*** (Please note: Many details are embargoed until the show starts, so apologies if things are still a bit vague. We will reveal all the Season 2 contestants on HuffPost Canada TV on Wednesday morning.) ***
A lot, even if you look over the fact that the entire production has moved into some new digs. The secret location (sorry, we can't tell you where the "Big Brother Canada" house is) has no bearing on what's inside the house; rest assured it's different from last season. There are definitely some new elements around the house. We'll be meeting anywhere from 14-16 new contestants, if we assume that number from last season's 15 contestants, plus or minus a twist. Incidentally, we've been promised many of those in Season 2 as well.
"This season there will be a lot of twists and surprises," says Cox. "This year, the surprises are going to be loved. There's some amazing stuff coming up."
Also new in Season 2 is "The Big Brother Canada Side Show," co-hosted by Cox, Season 1 almost-winner Gary "Glitter" Levy and Season 1 strategist Peter Brown. "Side Show," which airs immediately following the Thursday night eviction, spends 30 minutes dissecting the week's events; the co-hosts will tackle everything from strategy to stupidity.
"We'll be looking at different things [about the show], because we're really different people," said Levy. "We're going to have fun with this show, too."
Brown agrees. "It can't be too serious. Obviously, strategy is one very important part of the game, but it's a bunch of crazy people having a crazy experience, so you have to look at that too."
What's The Same?
All of your favourite elements are still a part of "Big Brother Canada": the 24/7 filming, the diary room, the twists and turns. Fundamentally, the show is still the same -- but production designer Faragher insists that last season was just a warm-up for Season 2.
"We've done this once," says Faragher. "Now's our chance to go back and make it better -- so that's what we've done. We want to ramp it up, and make it nuttier. This year is wackier. Last year's house, you would look at it and think, 'I want that in my house,' but this season it's a little more 'Big Brother,' and less normal."
For all the die-hards out there, you'll still have "After Dark" feeds to keep you satiated around the clock. There's 200,000 feet of cable fed throughout the house, there are 85 cameras tracking the houseguests 24/7, and there are 60 microphones eavesdropping at all times. There isn't a single inch of the house that isn't being monitored. The so-called "camera alleys" run a ring around the house -- these houseguests will have nowhere to hide.
The House Specs
So, what's the house like? Well, I can tell you it's bigger. It's roughly 18,000 square feet of pure reality goodness, with all the features you know and love: the pool -- more sleek and sexy this season, though it looks like it could get slippery around the edges, the whispering/makeout hammock in the backyard, the weights, the HoH room, and of course, the outdoor patio with hot tub and fireplace. It's definitely a swankier feel. The backyard is a little bigger this year, and is tip-to-tip fake grass. Gotta love it.
For those of you who recall last year's theme of Canadiana, this season is a bit different. Producers wanted to go for a more urban feel, so there's a lot of brick and concrete as a motif. It totally works, and the house has more of a polished, refined aesthetic. There's also a "secret" room, which we'll find out about next week.
The poor contestants still only have one bathroom stall in the main bathroom, so there will be a bit of forced interaction with their housemates. All the beds will be located on the new second storey, to make way for the pool.
"We still wanted the pool," said Faragher, laughing. "We still wanted to see those buff, young bodies. But that's why we had to move the beds upstairs, so we could have the pool in its own separate area."
Yes, it's true, we don't know who they are yet, but there were a few hints dropped during the time on-set. Well, OK, one. Host Arisa Cox revealed that we shouldn't expect more of the same when it comes to the houseguests:
"I haven't met them yet, and I won't until they enter the house, but I've seen the list of contestants, but they're different. You can't say, 'Oh, that's the Emmett of this season, and that's the Topaz of this season.' They're just totally different. We're savvy, as audience members -- we've seen a ton of reality show contestants at this point. If you start throwing out the same archetypes over and over, people will get bored. People want to know that Canada has different types; sure, we have dairy farmers, but we also have crazy urbanites."
The challenges are also stranger this time around, too, so look forward to those.
Surprises & Twists
One thing that every interviewee said to me was this: "Expect a lot of twists and surprises." I expect nothing less from "Big Brother Canada," especially after last season's many abrupt changes and split-second eliminations. One hint from Faragher was a doozy, in which he basically admits that a band will be appearing on "Big Brother Canada" -- though which one is anybody's guess:
"We have moving lights this year and a lot of other cool stuff," he said. "The grid [points to the ceiling] here in the backyard comes down, so if we were to have a band here, later in the season, we could have a rock-concert set-up."
And comedian/actor Trevor Boris was on-set, though not available to media -- we were fortunate to run into him and ask him a few questions. You may know him as the voice of Marsha the Moose (and evil counterpart Marge the Moose) from Season 1. He works as both a challenge producer on the show and contributes to "Side Show," but we're fully assuming that he's returning as the moose. When we asked where the moose head was now, we got a "he's on vacation" reply. This dodgy response makes me believe we'll get the moose back -- in some form -- with Boris as the voice.
In any case, brace yourselves for a bumpy ride. This one's gonna be fun.