Why Big Brother Canada is the best in the world

19 comments - Posted on May 5 2014 at 01:33am

Big Brother Canada logo

It’s only in its second season, but already Big Brother Canada is making waves – and we reckon it’s the best version going at the moment. Read on to find out why…

In recent years, it seems Big Brother hasn’t been able to do right without doing wrong on either side of the Atlantic.

In the UK, it has been putting out some top notch telly – but the rules that make the format what it should be have been destroyed in the process.

The American version has been left to stagnate, with fans turning on its broadcaster CBS and executive producer Allison Grodner as they stick to the same old formula, making very few changes between seasons.

In 2012, amid the ups and downs, English-speaking Canada finally joined the party twelve years after everyone else, when broadcaster Slice announced its first ever series.

The news came as a pleasant surprise, with Canadians rejoicing at the fact that they’d finally get a chance to take part – though it’s fair to say that there wasn’t high expectations for the show, given BBUSA’s lull and the fact it was going to air on a female-oriented specialty digital channel.

But the proof is in the pudding, and what a tasty pudding it turned out to be. BBCAN – based on the radically different American format, which pits contestants against each other with no public voting – is now nearing the end of its second season, which has been absolutely gripping since day one.

As a result, BBUK and BBUSA’s shortcomings have only been further highlighted – so here we sum up why they should both be running scared of Big Brother Canada.

Big Brother Canada season 2 2014 house - living area

It’s had stacks of money thrown at it

BBUK fans were thrilled last year when it was revealed that the house had been given a complete structural makeover for the first time since 2009. But if you thought that was too long a wait, spare a thought for BBUSA fans, who have been putting up with the same building since 2005.

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, they had to sit by and watch in envy in February when BBCAN unveiled its stunning brand new digs – which had been rebuilt from the ground up.

When its producers lost the lease on the old set after its first season, they had to start again at a new location. Although the second-generation house shares some similarities with its predcessor, it has enough differences to make it impressive – most significantly a proper second floor, featuring the entrance, bathroom and two bedrooms, a feature we can only dream of over here.

In addition, they also upgraded their equipment, adding new state-of-the-art cameras so the show could be broadcast in HD. By comparison, BBUSA is stuck in the dark ages – it’s one of the few programmes still being broadcast in 4:3. That’s right, it’s not even widescreen.

It puts CBS to shame that it continues to throw a fresh lick of paint on an aged house and broadcast it in a near-obsolete picture format each year, while Slice has gone all-out two seasons in a row.

Big Brother Canada 2 - latecomer houseguests Scott, Allison and Nate

It’s not afraid to take massive risks

This year’s BBCAN launched with a major twist – billed as ‘never before done anywhere’ – involving three houseguests moving in to a secret room, before one was voted in to the main house.

Okay, so such twists are commonplace around the world. But regardless of the empty promise, the producers’ plan was completely unprecedented – as there has never, ever been a late entrant in the history of the American Big Brother format.

One reason that might have put BBUSA bosses off introducing intruders is their guaranteed disadvantage – the existing houseguests would no doubt be wary of them and possibly even target them instantly, having fought to stay in the game for longer.

But Canada decided to do it, and ended up smashing that theory – with Allison (pictured above centre), the lucky candidate that viewers chose to become a fully-fledged houseguest, surviving five evictions before the others turned on her (she was immune her first week).

BBUSA has never taken such a big risk, and it’s heading in to its sixteenth season this year. No wonder fans are getting bored of it…

Big Brother Canada 2 online

Its online offering is second to none

When BBUK moved to Channel 5 in 2011, rather than launch a fully-featured official website, they decided to focus on social media outlets, with news and videos being posted on a bare-bones Facebook app that doesn’t have a patch on Channel 4’s previous efforts.

BBCAN could easily have gone down the same path, but they didn’t. Instead, their online team embraced the growing second screen trend by launching an outstanding fully-featured website complete with its own game.

The idea is incredibly simple – you sign up for a free account and collect points simply by predicting nomination results, reading news posts, flicking through photos and watching videos. The clever bit is that the more points you collect, the more influence you can have in the house.

Every time a major twist takes place, viewers are invited to cast votes on what should happen – and the more points you’ve collected, the more your vote counts. When you join, you start off with a vote that’s two times more powerful – and it increases in milestones until the you reach the maximum 150 times at 15,000 points.

The result is more a far more engaging concept that should be adopted by every version of Big Brother – but sadly it’s highly likely that BBUK will stick with the same awkward-to-navigate Facebook app this summer, given that it’s hardly changed in three years.

Of course, there’s another reason that BBCAN trumps the others in all things internet…

It has four live feeds – that are available for free

Although it’s had many criticisms levelled at it, BBUSA has always been the world leader in live feeds. For a subscription fee, they still offer four streams, a split-screen stream, and a ‘flashback’ feature allowing you to rewind the footage to any point in the season.

However, this year, BBCAN snatched their crown by taking the same features – and offering them for free (in HD quality).

This is no doubt annoying for those south of the border, who have to pay thirty bucks a season for access. But at least they have that option – it’s even more galling for us in the UK, as Channel 5 insists that live feeds are no longer necessary (even though the whole idea of Big Brother was to enable the audience to watch the action 24 hours a day).

Meanwhile, a Canadian cable channel with a fraction of the reach stays true to the concept, and thanks fans for their loyalty by charging diddly squat. Don’t know about you, but we’re really tempted to emigrate…

It has AMAZING theme music

Okay, not really a reason for BBUK to be running scared, but we can’t do a feature on BBCAN without mentioning its title music, which is coming dangerously close to toppling Paul Oakenfold and Andy Gray’s masterpiece as our all-time favourite Big Brother theme.

Seriously, it’s amazing – have a listen yourself by hitting play here:

Amazing, right? If the powers that be are reading this, please release a full-length track so we can play it on a loop all day!

It’s action-packed with almost no compromises to the format

Even when you take all of the above out of the equation, Big Brother Canada still trumps its rivals – simply because it’s a complete joy to watch.

Okay, so it’s not 100% perfect – every version has its own shortcomings (for instance, it last week breached the outside contact rule by arranging visits from friends and family). But, unlike recent editions of BBUK and BBUSA – and even BB Australia, which our Twitter followers will know we rave about – almost every episode of BBCAN’s latest season has left us thoroughly entertained and pumped for more, without any lingering feelings that the chiefs in charge are diluting the show’s format.

The main example of this came during a very dramatic Power of Veto ceremony. As the name suggests, the PoV allows its holder to save one nominee from the threat of eviction – which is just what happened in week seven, when Head of Household Jon handed a reprieve to one of the house’s two main targets so he could take out a bigger personal threat.

Unfortunately for Jon, Allison had found a unique secret Veto of her own days earlier – and her decision to use it cause shockwaves that the houseguests and the viewers have only just recovered from a fortnight later. Watch what happened here:

BBUK comes up with a half-baked twist almost every week in an attempt to keep us watching – last summer’s series had only two regular rounds of nominations – but all BBCAN needs to spice things up is one secret power and the effects can last for ages.

And while we’re sharing clips, there’s another moment you have to see, involving houseguest Ika being offered the choice of letters from home for the entire group – or a cool $5,000 prize.

Of course, everyone else was watching on in shock from the living area – and while you could argue that Big Brother helped destroy her game by not informing her of this fact, the chaos that ensued was edge-of-your-seat viewing. See it for yourself here:

There’s lots more we could talk up about Big Brother Canada – from its decision to bring the Big Brother character back to the American format, to the excellent mini tasks that complement the main competitions, to its hilarious Marsha The Moose character.

Essentially, it has taken the best bits of Big Brother from around the world and mixed them together in to a delightfully compelling show. It’s now our firm favourite version here at bbspy, and we’re going to be gutted when it ends on Thursday – fingers crossed that Slice secures it for a third season sooner rather than later.

In the mean time, lets hope that BBUK and BBUSA are taking notes, because they seriously need to up their games if they want to compete.

PS. Neda to win!

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19 comments on this article

  1. Garth says:
    Mon 05 May Reply !

    I think you mean best of the English-speaking series. Of all the series I’ve seen, Israel’s is, by far, the most spectacular I’ve encountered. Even in comparison to Canada’s.

  2. sam.01 says:
    Mon 05 May Reply !


    I like it but the UK BB is better imo BB is all about reality tv not gameplaying and BBUK has more history and it’s not BB fault they can’t take big risks blame fucking ofcom

    And the UK BB Theme tune is better than any theme tune in the world

  3. Paul says:
    Mon 05 May Reply !

    The Big Brother UK theme music is BY FAR the best.

  4. Josh says:
    Mon 05 May Reply !

    Sorry, BBSpy, as a Canadian here, NOTHING can top the amazing BBUK theme music by Paul Oakenfold!

    But I totally agree; BB Canada has been brilliantly produced. It’s a shame it’s not on longer, and that it doesn’t air more times on TV! Great series; so glad we Canadians have a version to call our own! And it’s a vast improvement on last year: Arisa is hosting better; there’s a spin-off show which has improved week after week (which I think every version of Big Brother needs to have); the twists allow viewers to influence the house and the game itself; there’s live feed 24/7 and late night on TV; American ex-houseguests are raving about the show; need I say more? :)

    And as for family and friends entering the BBCAN house, at least the twist involved them having to sacrifice something. BBUK rewards them with family and friends visits for no reason really. Although, it could be technically argued that the “no contact with the outside world” rule is broken weekly, due to the letter from home the HoH gets.

  5. Will says:
    Mon 05 May Reply !

    BB Can is not better than UK, their theme song is not better! It sounds like some cheesy game show, we’re as BB UK is sinister, mysterious, and never gets old. And the UK is less like a game show which works a lot better. Sorry but BB UK is better than Canada!

  6. Josh says:
    Mon 05 May Reply !

    And it’s a shoo in that BBCAN will be renewed for a third season. And I also agree: Neda to win! :D

  7. lanky says:
    Mon 05 May Reply !

    This article is spot on. I’ve been following BBCAN2 and It’s the first series of any BB in years that I’ve never wanted to end.

    I think the BBCAN theme sounds sinister (especially before it kicks in) and I disagree about it never getting old; although I prefer the BBUK theme it’s been ten years since it was last remixed and I’d love for Oakenfold to update it a bit.

  8. Will says:
    Mon 05 May Reply !

    I’m sorry but that theme song is not sinister, the beginning is a bit but overall it’s terrible. No imagination has been put into it. It has that typical game show sound.

  9. Will says:
    Mon 05 May Reply !

    @lanky Do you know what the age restriction is for Big Brother to be in the audience? It says minimum age ticket 18 on a ticket website. Or is it ok if your 16 and go with someone who’s over 18?

  10. Richard says:
    Mon 05 May Reply !

    I’m a viewer of BB Canada in the UK and I’ve really enjoyed this series. Probably my favourite of all the international BB’s I’ve watched. The only thing I it lacks is a more compelling host, if Emma was the host the show would be perfect.

  11. Mike says:
    Mon 05 May Reply !

    USA fans have been putting up with the same house since Big Brother 6… So, 2005. :wink:

  12. Sam F says:
    Mon 05 May Reply !

    ahhhahhhahhahahahahhh the titles/theme tune are ridic, I hope BBUK doesn’t copy those

  13. Brekkie says:
    Mon 05 May Reply !

    Probably my favourite version in the world at the moment and the only one I’ve watched in full since BBUK ended in 2010.

    It’s not without it’s flaws – the live feeds maybe free but they also black them out too much, often for entire weekends. Also annoying evictions aren’t done live – plus not completing HoH comps in the eviction episodes is very annoying, as was the lack of interviews earlier in the season. It’s frustrating too that rather air the eviction live last night they did the same as last year and just cut the feeds for the season and pre-recorded the eviction for Wednesday. Little things like that are not necessary.

    Format wise though they’ve done what somebody needs to do with the US format for ages – the core format is much stronger than the international version but can be very predicable, but Canadian producers have done enough to keep it fresh without just throwing in twist after twist. Would be nice though next year for them to make a big rule change and deviate a bit more from the US – the Veto is primed for a revamp IMO, even if it’s just going back to all HGs competing.

  14. Josh says:
    Tue 06 May Reply !


    The reason why they don’t do live evictions is because upon leaving the house, the evicted houseguest speaks to the psychologist in the vestibule between the house and the outside world for a few minutes before they come out. I feel like that speech with the psychologist could be done in the Diary Room a couple of hours before the live eviction. Or they could do a two-show format (with a 30 minute program in between) that would allow the evicted houseguest to speak with a psychologist.

    At least it’s good that the welfare of HGs in the Canadian version are highly prioritized, to the point where live evictions don’t happen.

  15. DigitalStar says:
    Tue 06 May Reply !

    100% agree with BBSpy on this. BBCan is gripping in all the right ways. Tho the UK version is awesome, as well as the Aussie… Canada just takes it with overall entertainment value.

    Every episode has something worth watching.

  16. Brekkie says:
    Tue 06 May Reply !

    The interview the viewers see should be their gut reaction though – there is a time to speak to a psych but that should be briefly in the diary room earlier in the day and then following the eviction interview. Another 10 minutes won’t do any harm, and the interview is still part of the game.

  17. Liam Andrew Haining says:
    Tue 06 May Reply !

    I think id rather be in bbcan than bbuk I have been watching and I always say \OMG I cant help to wonder what its like for the housemates the uk one is well to easy drink basically throwing at them food don’t do mch for tht really and they nominate but we evicte? nah like the whole HOH and VETO think the uk should change everything to be more challangeing and more entertaining but ill still watch uk one but they always say twist and its predictable too predictable if you ask me . the bb can fan meter had me always at the edge of my seat I love the fact everything can still change after the veto comp for the nominated housemates it allways show its not just a game that’s easy like uk its more to play with u mind u get more paranoid in there and u never know when ur in power or when u out inless u pissed everyone off like paul did. I think UK big bro should takes loads a note iv seen all us and uk and recently new seasons of au and cananda big bro because uk one is more boring its just a game way basically people seem to site around now its like the normal bbuk is treated the same as the cbbuk housemates I think C5 might lose this but whoever is going to own it next should change it completely cause when they do tht raitings will go up for whatever company owns it and the sh0w!! :up: :up: :up: :up:

  18. Thor says:
    Tue 09 Jun Reply !

    Nothing can top BBUK! This article is garbage! BBUS and BBCAN is like a luxurious version of Survivor…get over it!

  19. kristen says:
    Wed 02 Sep Reply !

    BBCan (esp. S1) is about the dullest reality tv I have ever seen. I mean in the first week one houseguest called another a ” redneck” and was SO embarrassed and SO ooohed and aaaahed about that she came up and literally said she was “disgusted” with herself for saying such a horrible thing (is redneck a horrible derogatory term up in Canada? Many people in the US would take that as a compliment or at least a realistic description of their lifestyle if they were from the South… but then again maybe calling a Canadian a term that is used in the US IS actually considered offensive? I’ll have to research that one for my next trip to Vancouver. And that was literally THE most excitement the show had for the first month. Production was crap; we hardly got to know the houseguests at all and 90% of the time was spent on competitions, houseguests talking game, and houseguests relating “game-talk” to other houseguests (in an incredibly polite and dull manner). I have much respect for Canada as a country but casting ONE extremely flamboyant gay male and ONE Indigenous person (who freaks out then apologizes every 30 minutes to just about everyone) plus a dozen cookie cutter personalities does not make for interesting or intriguing or even “its a train wreck but I can’t turn away because I NEED to know what happened!” programming. Other than the 2 personalities mentioned above, every other person was basically the same & they voted out the only couple of interesting (read: not conformist and desperately polite) people in the first couple weeks. DULLsville. The Moose was ridiculous and a far cry from the secret DR challenges that BB has had in the US version – which it is most closely related to. Also it all takes place indoors because they film it in the dead of winter… in Canada… so it is a bunch of polite people trying hard to not offend anyone else but being forced against their nature to single out someone for eviction, in a studio set that doesn’t look like a house by any stretch of the imagination (the ceilings are as high as the studio & just makes the “house” look cavernous and gives the people WAY too much privacy for it to be an interesting game). And wow anyone who says the music is great..??? It sounds like a MIDI file from an old windows 98 computer I have stashed in a closet somewhere. Just…no. I’d LOVE to see a BB Can that is as entertaining as BB USA, which is the version it emulates, but I’m afraid they have a long way to go. I have even watched many of the YT vids from former houseguests (the Shield) and they are far more entertaining on their own than they were in a month in that house. And did I already say the production was utter crap? Yes? I’ve had the bare minimum of TV production classes and I can pick out the bare spots, repetitiveness, lack of focus and often terrible camera angles and mic reception even though it is stated that it has even better specs for aud/vid than BB US. Well casting for S4 is going on now and we can’t hope for some decent music as it seems set in stone that repetitive 1998 computer sound intro, lets just hope for some more interesting Canadians (perhaps they could find some who have lived in the US?) And btw they DID have “audience voting” save eviction for some of the most boring characters. After the disaster that was audience voting in BB US S1 you’d think they’d learn that is not a good model for successful television. Well, perhaps it is inside of Canada only, but to a wider audience it is predictable, boring, and the games and challenges remind me of what we did at summer camp when I was 10 years old. And whose bright idea was it to ply them with hard alcohol? I mean yeah the “stolen” vodka made for an interesting 5 min of TV but seriously, is it really smart to provide so much hard alcohol to what are basically overly polite inmates who can’t even go outside because it’s below freezing?? And the vodka didn’t even get these Canadians to get into any drama worth tuning in to on TV. If I wanted to watch a bunch of 20-somethings sit around and chat quietly I’d go to my grad school library. Here’s hoping BB Can S4 can do better (and change that awful music OMG please change it, my mute button is getting worn out)

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