Wednesday night on Global, the Big Brother Canada 10 premiere will be here! This is a tremendous milestone and of course, one that should be celebrated in every possible way. Whether it be its casting, its competitions, or its absolutely stellar house designs, this version of the show surpasses its US counterpart in a number of facets.
There are so many reasons for the success of this series over the past decade, but an immense amount of credit has to be handed to host and executive producer Arisa Cox. Her value to the franchise is multi-faceted with what she does on-screen, but also behind the scenes and within the Big Brother fandom. Her passion for the show and its fanbase is top-tier when compared to every other reality host out there. She loves every aspect of making Big Brother Canada feel like a close community, and we felt that as much in our preseason interview today as we did back before the start of the series.
Read on for our interview with Arisa on the theme for the season, plus casting and the process of making this show happen in the first place.
Matt & Jess – It hardly feels like ten seasons in a way! Does it ever feel to you like a lot of time has passed, while also no time at all?
Arisa Cox – I think the thing that makes it not feel like it’s been ten years is that every season is so different! That is one of the strengths of this concept; every season has a different house, different people, different twists, and different challenges. I think if you took the same cast and slotted them into different seasons, you would have a different winner. You’d probably still have people who could make final two every time, but that’s because we’ve had some next-level competitors in our past.
This is not a show where we film everything and then editors take it away and perfect it … This is all happening at the time you’re seeing it. You can’t hide! You have to surrender to this roller-coaster ride. You’re seeing people become villains over the course of a season; or, you’re seeing villains becoming people who you cannot wait to see win. This is the journey that we sign up for and it is so much fun.
I am as excited for this season as I was for the very first one.
I know producing Big Brother Canada isn’t the sort of show where you wake up and put it together in a few weeks. When do you first start working on it?
Usually in the summertime. The show takes so much out of everyone and there are a lot of moving parts — we’re fried by the end of it (laughs), but we need some decompression time and then we start again. We start with the creative and the house design, and then we get into casting. We put out the casting calls while Big Brother US is on and it’s a long process. So is everything else: Building the house, building our teams. Everyone knows that we’ve diversified the cast as much as we could, but we’ve also diversified things behind the scenes, as well. That makes storytelling richer and more authentic. You can tell. The quality of our storytelling is a big strength of Big Brother Canada and we never want to phone that in.
I love the game-show theme that is being promoted. It reminds me of being sick as a kid, staying home from school and watching old game shows.
I was just saying that! The only things on were game shows and soap operas. That was exactly my memory of staying home when I was sick.
How much fun are you going to have with this theme? You basically get to be the Bob Barker presiding over this big, elaborate game show!
I love this part — presiding over something so epic. You know this about our show: Our production value is off the charts because we are all extra. When we’re all voicing our opinions we’re like ‘where’s the thunder? Where are the streamers?’ (laughs). We are SO over-the-top. I love that we really get to dig into that over-the-top game-show aspect of our show.
It’s really fun getting to tip our hat to old-school and modern game shows in Big Brother, which is the mother of all game shows. There are all sorts of different levels of gaming that happen with this show! You’ve seen a little bit of the house, but then, there are mystery doors! It’s so simple but it’s so perfect for a game like Big Brother. There are Easter eggs and references to past seasons. We don’t always point them out, but if you’re a fan you’ll find them. Take, for example, the phone in the room this year. As you may recall, Suzette picked up the phone on night 1 in season 1 and become HoH.
A lot of things you see this season are going to be twisted; they’re not all going to be the same. There is a new flavor, but I love being able to celebrate ten years on the air.
Let’s get into the cast, since you know them better than any of us do. They seem like a fun, diverse group, and I love that there could be people who know the game really well and those who really don’t. I love having both. We all have our pre-game assumptions, but do you think some of them could surprise us?
Absolutely. I will tell you, my preference is to have people who have a mind for gaming. I love strategy, but strategy is nothing without the social game. It’s another way of saying ‘do people like you? Do people like your vibe? Do people want to hang out with you or not?’ (laughs). That is just as valuable as the strategy. Just watch Jon and Neda [in season 2]. He had his social game on LOCK, so much so that he got the best strategic player to teach him everything she knew, and then he won in the end.
I love gamers, but I also love people who only sort-of know the show but have [natural] instincts. Take Anthony Douglas season 7 — he had watched a couple of tapes in sequester, but he never finished a season. But then he figured out how the game worked and obliterated his competition. Even though he didn’t win, he’s one of the most iconic players who’s ever played Big Brother Canada.
We also know there are huge superfans who flop immediately. It happens every year! You get someone who knows exactly what to do, but has missed some major warning signs and finds themselves a target and then out the door.
I’m excited for everyone to get into the game and have some of the first-night jitters and be on their best behavior. Then, in a matter of two days there is a new hierarchy and everyone gets right into it. We’ve lost incredible players in the pre-jury! Then, you get into the jury and the game alters and that whole phase is really fun. Then, the endgame is so fun. There are so many phases and it’s hard to explain to people who don’t know the show like we do, but it doesn’t stop. The game doesn’t stop.
I know you can’t give many details, but what can you say about the twists this time around?
Some of our favorite moments from past seasons will be referenced. Nothing will be as it was, but you will see things in different ways. There are a couple of competitions coming that are my absolute favorites. This house is very much purpose-built for this season almost more than ever before — the house may as well be the 17th houseguest.
The rest is just surrendering and knowing exactly what the show is! It’s a game show, it’s a drama, it’s a comedy, and it’s a romance and a soap-opera. When it comes down to it, it’s just people talking in a room. Some of the most magnificent and impactful and memorable moments are just those: A conversation. That’s the trick for us — the scale of the show is so big, but it can be the smallest moments that have the most impact. I feel for the people who will never give it a chance, because they don’t know the levels that we can get to on the show. If you can take a couple of silly costumes (laughs), then you can see what else we’re serving up!
What do you most want to see on Big Brother Canada season 10?
Be sure to share your thoughts and hopes in the comments! Remember, we’ll have live-feed updates and interviews all season. (Photo: Global.)