Big Brother received 30,000 applications over a 10-month period, yet despite the high number, they had difficulty locating the 16 ideal housemates.
The casting crew was under intense pressure to find the right combination of characters to help the remake, presented by AJ Odudu and Will Best, succeed.
The reality TV series, which begins in just two days (TWO DAYS PEOPLE), has been running since 2000, so many prospective Big Brother stars have been watching it for decades and are enthusiastic about the possibility to be a part of it.
Casting director Jay Khagram has discovered that having a large number of candidates isn’t necessarily a positive thing.
‘The volume of applications has been both a blessing and a curse,’ he explained.
‘It’s a great testament to the positivity behind the return of Big Brother that we’ve had so many applications from potential housemates, but we’re of the mindset that from a casting perspective, it’s always quality over quantity.’
The show’s popularity and fans’ knowledge of previous successful competitors haven’t always been beneficial. In reality, the reverse has occurred! That takes us out of the running.
‘As well as the number of applications we’ve processed, given the familiarity of the format, we have been aware of people presenting themselves as what they perceive to be the ideal “Big Brother Housemate” and often, this is not a true reflection of themselves as a character, which is what we’re actually interested in.’
He continued: ‘We’ve been very aware of weeding out the “performers” from the authentic characters and this has been prevalent throughout the vigorous application process.’
Jay has also revealed the team’s commitment to bring the show into 2023, even if that doesn’t please everyone.
‘We are also conscious that we have a very loyal and devoted fanbase that we are aware of but cannot completely pander to,’ he stated.
‘The die-hard fans that want to see housemates similar to Craig and Nick from Big Brother 1 may not register that they were housemates 23 years ago when the world was a very different place and to represent society in 2023, the series and the type of housemate on the series has to move forward with the times.’
He added: ‘The world has changed, society has changed. Gay Marriage was illegal in the UK when Big Brother was first broadcast on Channel 4 and Channel 5.
‘Gender identity terms like ‘non-binary’ & ‘gender fluid’ were non-existent in society. Phrases like “Black Lives Matter” or “Me Too” had not had an impact on us as individuals or on society as a whole. We’ve been through a global pandemic since the last series of Big Brother aired!
‘As a society, we’ve undergone incredible changes in the way we tackle mental health, political viewpoints, empowerment, prejudice and equality and from a casting perspective, we aim to be mindful and representative of as much of this as we can be.’
The team whittled down the 30,000, which were found using social media, national and local news outlets, press articles, advertising on ITV itself, and searching for the future Alison Hammond and Josie Gibsons of the world in community groups, and specific hobby clubs, to 500.
They met the final 500 in person for interviews, and the casting team were in for some shocks.
‘We’ve had some real surprises amongst the prospective housemates along the way and there are some people in the line-up that feel completely fresh and unique and even with a series approaching 25 years in the TV landscape, feel unlike anyone we’ve ever seen on the show before!’
Viewers can now anticipate meeting the cast of 18 to 50-year-olds who represent a cross-section of the United Kingdom.
Jay teased that the final line-up includes a ‘strong, regional spread of housemates ensuring we are representative of diversity, gender, sexuality, culture, age and opinions.’
As always there will be ‘big characters with strong personalities’ as well as ‘housemates that will endeavour to grow as characters throughout the series.’
Big Brother starts on ITV1, ITV2 and ITVX on 8 October