German, Canadian, Brazilian and Australian editions of the show are all currently in production, with contestants being given varying levels of knowledge of the pandemic.
In Germany, contestants entered the house back on February 6 before the coronavirus had been detected outside of China. A number of new people have since entered the house, but they have been given strict instructions not to tell the existing housemates about the pandemic.
As the count of German cases surpasses 7,500, German broadcaster Sat.1 has now decided to inform the housemates of the global pandemic live on television. A live episode that airs tonight will feature a doctor informing the houseguests of the extent of COVID-19, coupled with reassuring video messages from their families at home.
The cast of Big Brother in Germany doesn't know about covid-19 and they're gonna tell them in a live TV special. I have to learn German by tomorrow. https://t.co/a0zOrIUeCD— Dan McQuade (@dhm) March 16, 2020
Big Brother Canada saw housemates enter a Toronto house on March 6, but since mass gatherings were banned last week, the contestants are unable to figure out why they can no longer hear a live audience when someone gets evicted. When they try to guess why, the voice of Big Brother comes over the speakers and says, "Please stop talking."
In Canada, a new season of Big Brother started 2 weeks ago. The contestants have no clue about the severity of the Coronavirus pandemic. When someone is voted out of the show, they come out to a studio with no audience.— C.J. Prince (@cj_prin) March 15, 2020
Contestants talk about it then production shuts them down. pic.twitter.com/hixPc4KEf9
According to multiple reports, the contestants have since been informed of the latest COVID-19 updates. The next episode is slated to air tomorrow evening (March 18).
Big Brother Brazil is also currently in production. Housemates there entered the set on January 21 and were informed of the coronavirus outbreak yesterday (March 16).
the reality big brother here in brazil just broke the protocol of informing them about the outside world to inform live about the covid. their faces are priceless i cannot stress this enough #BigBrotherBrasil #COVID2019 pic.twitter.com/beB1CsusvI— fifi!! 🦋 (@alljeongin) March 17, 2020
Finally, the Australian edition of the show is in production and the contestants were informed of the pandemic yesterday. None of them has asked to leave the house — and it's hard to blame them given the extremely controlled isolation provided by the show's set, not to mention access to toilet paper.
The Big Brother housemates are going to have to rebuild society. https://t.co/543HCDZ9pf— Rob Stott (@Rob_Stott) March 16, 2020
As The Guardian points out, Big Brother UK simulated a viral outbreak in 2013, leaving the contestants to determine between themselves who got the six gas masks and who had to go into quarantine. The scenario was inspired by Charlie Brooker's horror series Dead Set, but now producers don't even have to look that far to create captivating television.
Find an ongoing list of coronavirus-related postponements and cancellations here.