Entertainment

Big Brother Canada ends season early due to COVID-19 developments

Just over a week after announcing production was still underway on Big Brother Canada despite the global COVID-19 crisis, producers now say the reality series has ended early.

Early ending 'the right thing to do,' says host Arisa Cox

Big Brother Canada contestants are seen in this undated handout photo. Global Television and Insight Productions say production on the show's latest season is ending early in light of developments in Ontario on the fight against the coronavirus. (Corus Entertainment/Canadian Press)

Just over a week after announcing production was still underway on Big Brother Canada despite the global COVID-19 crisis, producers now say the reality series has ended early.

Global and Insight Productions say production on season 8 is now done in light of developments in Ontario on the fight against the pandemic.

The companies say they have no plans to resume production at a later date for this season, which was scheduled to end May 21.

The final two episodes will air this Wednesday and next Wednesday, April 1. A winner will not be named.

The move to end the show came after Ontario ordered a mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces in the province starting Tuesday night.

Last week the companies said the Toronto-shot series had eliminated its live studio audience and heightened on-site sanitation and other precautionary safety measures. They also noted the sequestered contestants had been given "a thorough update" about the outbreak situation and chose to remain on the show.

According to previous media reports, some Big Brother Canada crew members were unsatisfied with the show's precautions and had resigned over the weekend, worried about continuing to work during the outbreak. 

The eighth season of Big Brother Canada debuted with 16 Canadian contestants March 4 on Global — before the virus outbreak was declared a pandemic. 

Watch as Big Brother Canada producers inform contestants about the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The series 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.

Since there will be no winner this season, plans for the prize money will be revealed in the final episode, a publicist said.

Insight Productions said last week that the production had a resident doctor who had assessed and determined no houseguests had exhibited any signs or symptoms related to COVID-19. The production company said the houseguests were also each provided a letter from home.

The Canadian company is also the focus of a recent lawsuit alleging employment standards violations, including unpaid overtime, vacation pay and holiday premiums. Insight Productions denies the allegations. 

"Even though it hurts to say goodbye to the season, it's the right thing to do," Big Brother Canada host Arisa Cox said in a statement Tuesday.

"On behalf of the incredible people who put this show together, thank you to everyone who started this journey with us. Please take care and be safe!"

'Even though it hurts to say goodbye to the season, it's the right thing to do,' Big Brother Canada host Arisa Cox said in a statement. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

With files from CBC News

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