Big Brother returned to our screens last night and we went behind-the-scenes on the launch show to bring you some extra juicy details.

Being on the Big Brother set was exhausting.

For hours I was I instructed to sit, stand, wave, clap and scream endlessly for the cameras… and I was only in the audience.

The show that makes it OK to imprison, brainwash and emotionally torture people came back to our screens last night, and to celebrate, a few Chosen Ones were invited to take a quick whirl around the set before the housemates came in and messed it all up.

Once we’d all been sworn to secrecy in the greenroom it was time to wander down to the house, and that’s where I encountered the night’s first hurdle. You see, the illusion and grandeur of TV had tricked me into believing the Big Brother set was a place where golf buggies spirited you away to your destination and audience members are always comfortably seated. So I’d worn dinner shoes, as in footwear designed by a sadist who hates feet and wants them to suffer. Shoes you can only wear to dinner when you hobble from the car to the table.

To my dismay, the golf buggies were out of action and we had to trek to the compound on foot. During the journey our little group grew a tad alarmed when we spied a ‘give way to tigers’ sign on the path. But their fear quickly turned to relief when, one-by-one, they took in my painful shoe-induced shuffle and worked out that they wouldn’t have to necessarily outrun a tiger. They just had to be faster than me.

Once in the Big Brother house we were escorted through the camera run, a labyrinth of dark hidden corridors snaking through the compound where you can pull back the curtains and stare directly into the house. Usually there would be housemates frolicking by the pool but since it was still an hour from showtime there was only a nice handyman with a paintbrush making his way around the pool doing touch-ups. Nothing like cutting it fine.

Usually, people moving through the camera run are forced to wear black, speak in hushed tones and sacrifice a goat to keep from making their presence known, but since the house was non-operational we were free to ooh and ahh freely.

Since there were no cameras or phones allowed on the tour, I’ll just have to describe what it was like to see the furnishings up close. It was kind of like somebody had let The Nanny’s Fran Fine loose in Elton John’s storage shed, with a few flamingos thrown in for good measure.

Fun fact that I shared on the tour that nobody cared about, but maybe you guys will: apparently, there are more fake flamingos in the world than real ones. Feel free to pull that one out at your next dinner party or social event. You’re welcome.

There’s a particularly fun spot on the camera run where you can pull back the curtains and stand behind one of the beds, right between the cushions. “Wow, you could stand right here,” I said, pushing my face up against the one way glass, “and watch them sleep and talk… right here and they’d never know.”

“We don’t do that,” replied our tour leader, implying that filming the actions of these people and broadcasting it to thousands was perfectly acceptable, but standing behind them and breathing softly through a thin pane of glass made me the creepy one.

The green room pre-show party was a whir of white wine and delicious duck pancakes and then it was time to take our seats for the taping.

big-brother-flamingoHave you ever wondered why the live audiences at these shows always look so thrilled and excited? Are they really that pumped to see a random stranger bound down a runway and then be sent off into a house decorated with endangered flamingos? Well, not really, as it turns out.

Don’t get me wrong, the audience was pretty pumped, but before the taping began we were taken through an intense crowd training experience with none other than Big Brother’s right hand man, Mike Goldman. We’re coached on how to clap, how to stand and how to appropriately ‘ooohhhh’ when the housemates drop any particularly dramatic pearls of wisdom.

We’re also promised amazing prizes for those of us who fulfill our parents’ dreams by being the best clappers in the Big Brother audience. So we cheered, we clapped, but most of all we stood….and stood. Until I was about to pull a James Franco and hack my own limbs off, 127 Hours style, to stop the pain.

We also laughed at the resplendent Sonia Kruger’s jokes…three times, because our laughter didn’t quite hit the mark the first time. Sonia looked like a glorious life-size Barbie in a fitted pink gown and was even able to laugh goofily at herself when she had to re-shoot her opening dance number after the first take wasn’t Strictly Ballroom.

So, that’s what went down behind-the-scenes on the first night of Big Brother. If this brilliant piece of investigative journalism has made you want to experience a live show for yourself, tickets are on sale at

Just wear comfortable shoes.