Inside the Big Brother Africa III House

2008-08-22 16:51
I have always had a soft spot for reality television – ever since that very first Survivor episode with Richard Hatch parading naked on the beach, right up to the kid with the broken leg auditioning for High School Musical. Imagine then, my pleasant surprise,when about two weeks ago I received an e-mail from Big Brother himself! Biggie, as he was fondly known in last years’ season had mailed me a personal invitation to be a guest in his house for a couple of days. And so, completely forgetting the total lack of privacy and constant scrutiny I packed my bags and scooted off to the “secret” location of the house this past weekend.

Once there, I was stripped of my laptop, cell phone, writing material, camera and even my overnight bag! I was made to sign all kinds of death threats to my life and future offspring should I divulge any of the secrets I was about to see inside, with a “Big Brother is always watching” thrown in for good measure. After struggling to find a belt wide enough to fit around my waist, I was fitted with a microphone and shoved into the garden. The first thing that grabbed my attention is how different it looked to last year and I can say this: there is a definite theme to the 2008 design, and I’m pretty sure that the dead English author (who went by a particular pseudonym) whose book a lot of the ideas are based on would have been proud... I really felt like a certain little girl who has slid down a rabbit hole into a different world.

Inside, the house was even more impressive and you will be green with jealousy when you see what I mean on Sunday. There I met my fellow housemates, or "mediamates" as Big Brother referred to us – all of us from different publications and me the only one holding the Caucasian flag high! And so began a weekend filled with fun tasks, industry gossip and an experience that very few people will ever have in their life.

It always annoys me when reality show contestants mention how being part of their particular show taught them things about themselves that they didn’t know, but I’ve come to learn that this is actually true! I did things and took part in exercises this weekend that I would never have dreamt of doing in “real” life. For instance: taking my shirt off in public is a big no-no, yet I found myself in a situation at one stage where I not only had to do that, but also had a six-pack drawn on my wobbly belly. And I enjoyed it! Or, going to a toilet with a camera pointing at you, and not having stage fright. I learned that there is a little exhibitionist hiding inside me and he loved being part of the whole experience – I believe I even made friends with one of the cameras, who reminded me in a strange way of Wall-E!

The weekend was over all too quickly and our faceless host sent us back into the cruel, real world. Sunday 24th August at 19h00 sees the start of the new season, and in some strange way I’m envious of the twelve contestants and the Wonderland where they'll be spending the next three months.

- Steyn du Toit

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