Big Brother Canada sets return, with leadership role for host Arisa Cox

Big Brother Canada will return for a ninth season with host Arisa Cox taking on a new role as executive producer.

The Global Television reality series says it plans to return in spring 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic forced its latest season to end early April 1 with no winner announced.

Corus Entertainment and Insight Productions say Cox will continue to host while taking on a bigger role behind-the-scenes helping to guide real-time storylines, casting and outreach.

Big Brother Canada unfolds in real-time and sees contestants living together in a house while cameras follow their every move, with no exposure to the outside world. They compete in mental/physical challenges for a chance to win a grand prize of $100,000.

Cox, a past Canadian Screen Award nominee for her role as Big Brother Canada host, says the “top priority” is to increase representation of racialized groups.

“We have reached a turning point in history and as the fight against racism and issues facing Black, Indigenous and people of colour around the world have been pulled into the spotlight, Big Brother Canada is seizing this moment to become a leader in the reality TV world,” she said in a statement.

“Our top priority is bold, lasting change by embracing the rich diversity of Canada in front of and behind the camera. Both are vital. And as one of the biggest and best reality TV shows in the country, we have both the ability and the responsibility to do just that.”

Corus says pre-production will include a thorough review of current practices and the development of new ones, anti-racism personnel policies and racial-equity training. It says announcements about casting opportunities will come at a later date.

After kicking off its eighth season in early March, before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, producers of the Toronto-shot series vowed to continue filming after enacting certain precautionary safety measures. They also noted that the contestants had been given “a thorough update” about the coronavirus outbreak and had chosen to remain on the show.

However, according media reports, some Big Brother Canada crew members were unsatisfied with those measures and resigned, worried about continuing to work during a pandemic. Filming shut down when Ontario ordered a mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces in the province.