Big Brother Naija Season 5 kicked off on Sunday under strict observation of social distancing and public health protocols due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In one of the first ever but obvious move, the glittering launch had no live audience and housemates had to undergo sanitisation before making it into the house.
Even on stage for the usual camaraderie that comes with introductions before going into the house, host Ebuka Obi-Uchendu observed the social distancing rule of about two arm’s length with all the 20 housemates.
He also announced that: “These housemates have been on total lockdown for over two weeks and have been tested for Covid-19.”
To reinforce this message, AfricaMagic website which posts updates for the show says: “Given the prevalence of the Covid-19 pandemic, MultiChoice Nigeria has assured viewers that global best practices, precautions and preventive measures will be followed throughout.”
From the stage, each housemate passed through a disinfection tunnel where they sanitised their hands before being ushered into the new house.
Despite the missing presence of live audience show, the hand-clapping and screams from fans of the reality show that trickled in virtually made up for it.
Again, the housemates welcomed into the house auditioned online, another first for the show.
Under the BB Naija Lockdown mantra, this season will run for 10 weeks while fans will be voting for the ultimate winner who will get 85 million naira (about $216 000) prize.
“The grand prize which includes a 30 million naira cash prize makes this season’s winnings the biggest since its debut back in 2006 and highest prize for a reality TV show on the continent,” according to https://africamagic.dstv.com.
The irony of the tagline is that, since 2006, BB Naija and its all other versions across the world have seen people being locked down.
The Lockdown edition has a number of fresh twists and rules which include the head of house nominating a deputy and a revision in the voting format with certain GOtv and DStv packages earning extra votes.
However, one of the biggest changes is the inclusion of a Betway Wallet which will see housemates earning money or being fined for bad behaviour.