reality tv

"It was the strangest thing." What's happening on reality TV sets during the COVID-19 crisis.

Almost every Australian will be affected in some way by the cancellations that come with the COVID-19 pandemic – whether they be related to travel, social events or employment.

But there’s another sad casualty of this global crisis: reality TV.

Whilst current seasons that were filmed prior to COVID-19 have remained on our screens, like Married At First Sight, the production of a plethora of other shows has had to shutdown or be put on hold as the world deals with unprecedented circumstances.

The Quicky, Mamamia‘s daily news podcast, spoke to Dancing With The Stars host Amanda Keller about how production dealt with the health crisis, and to Rob McKnight, host and editor of TV Blackbox, about how other shows have been impacted. Here’s what they had to say.

Talent shows

Talent reality shows including The Voice and Australia’s Got Talent are typically filmed in a live format. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, however, this isn’t exactly possibly.

Speaking to The Quicky, McKnight said Australia’s Got Talent will be on hold for now, whilst The Voice has already filmed their blind auditions, meaning they next have live shows.

In an interview with MediaWeek, Channel Nine’s head of content, production and development, Adrian Swift, shared how The Voice will be filmed.

“The series will begin looking as it has previously, but later in the series it will be different to what people might be expecting,” he said, after sharing that two thirds of the show was filmed before production was forced to stop.


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“To be honest, as a producer, I think those changes are going to make [the show] more interesting,” he added.

It’s believed some of the contestants and coaches, including US-based coach Kelly Rowland will appear remotely on the show.

“We have accepted now that for returning formats we need to fundamentally change how we approach and look at the show,” Adrian said.

It’s reported The Voice will still air in its originally planned timeframe.

Dancing With The Stars

Dancing With The Stars wrapped production in March, but their season was significantly impacted considering they were still required to record live shows every Sunday.

“The first episode we did that didn’t have an audience, we thought that was as strange as it would get,” Keller told Mamamia. 

“Then we had Christian Wilkins, son of Richard Wilkins, having to be in isolation while he was tested for coronavirus. So he had to dance in isolation with his partner on a hotel rooftop – we crossed to him remotely, and we thought that was as weird as it will get.

“Then, in the finale, we had one of the judges who had to fly home to England, he was via satellite, because if he didn’t get out then, he wouldn’t get home in time for his other commitments.”


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Keller added that filming the finale was an odd experience as they observed the 1.5 metre distance.

“When we announced the winner at the end, we all jumped up and down in place because we couldn’t hug each other. It was the strangest thing.”

“There was medical professionals on standby who took our temperatures several times a day. There was signs on our dressing room doors and on makeup rooms as to how many people were allowed in there at any time.”

Keller added that another thing that struck her while filming was how many staff members would be out of a job after Dancing With The Stars wrapped.

“That industry in particular has nowhere to go.”

You can listen to our full interview with Amanda Keller here. Post continues below. 

Big Brother

Channel Seven and production company Endemol Shine Australia are the new owners of the Big Brother franchise and are currently in the middle of production.

Big Brother was shut down for 48 hours because a crew member lived with someone who contracted the virus and that forced the complete shutdown,” McKnight told The Quicky. “That crew member was found to be negative and so production was able to resume. So Big Brother is on track.”

The entertainment expert added that there is a common misconception that the contestants are essentially in lockdown already while isolated in the Big Brother household. But this isn’t necessarily the case, with crew members frequently going into the house to shoot the challenges.

Since COVID-19 happened, the crew members are maintaining distance but “the idea that they’re in some hygienically sealed container is just not factual”.

Alas, it seems production has continued for now.

The Bachelor

The Bachelor – which this year will star Survivor contestant Locklan ‘Locky’ Gilbert as the man handing out the roses – was a third the way through of filming, when they were was forced to shut down due to COVID-19.

“What they are doing though, is they are going to continue with a phase called ‘Bachelor in lockdown’, and they’re going to film all the contestants having dates via video apps,” McKnight said.

“So basically, Locky will be at his place having video chats and still trying to get to know the bachelorettes.



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Australia, say hello to your Bachelor for 2020, Locky ???? #TheBachelorAU

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Survivor: All Stars just wrapped – but for now, the season is on hold too.

“They’ve ruled out doing it as a domestic version. So we will literally have to wait until they can go overseas and shoot the next series. As we all know with this virus, it could be three, six or 12 months – we really just don’t know.”

Feature Image: Channel Nine.

This post was originally published on April 1, 2o20, and updated on April 30, 2020.

To protect yourself and the community from COVID-19, remain in your home unless strictly necessary, keep at least 1.5 metres away from other people, regularly wash your hands and avoid touching your face.

If you are sick and believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your GP ahead of time to book an appointment. Or call the national Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice on 1800 020 080. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 000. 

To keep up to date with the latest information, please visit the Department of Health website.

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