The cast of Germany’s Big Brother has been informed of the coronavirus outbreak, after a month of being sequestered inside the reality-TV series’ house.
The German series’ 13th season premiered on Feb. 10, days after the cast first made camp inside the house — and just as the first cases of coronavirus outside of Wuhan were being reported. (As of March 18, Germany has reported more than 9,000 confirmed infections, and 24 deaths.)
The 14 houseguests living inside the house in Cologne had thus far not been apprised of the outbreak sweeping the globe — nor were the four players who were added to the house on March 9 allowed to mention it. Fielding backlash for the cone of silence, producers agreed to notify a houseguest if a loved one was infected by the virus. Later, it was decided that the show’s host, Jochen Schropp, accompanied by a doctor, would inform houseguests about the growing pandemic in a live episode airing Tuesday evening.
In the video above (which contains English subtitles), the houseguests are visibly emotional as they learn about the spread of coronavirus, growing particularly concerned about their loved ones outside of the house. To quell their fears, Big Brother shows them video messages from friends and family, and Schropp assures the houseguests that safety measures are being taken to protect everyone’s health (including the partition between Schropp and the contestants, as well as the lack of a live audience).
The United States’ own Big Brother walked a similar path in 2001, when Season 2 was interrupted to tell the final three contestants about the September 11 terror attacks — but only because one houseguest had a relative who had been missing since the tragedy.
CBS’ Big Brother typically premieres in late June/early July, so a decision has not yet been made about how the coronavirus will affect/possibly delay the start of production.