While it may be shown in many different countries with many different casts, there are a few things that are true about Big Brother no matter where it is shown. A collection of interesting people get sealed inside a house together for a pre-determined length of time. They have to join forces, betray each other, take part in humiliating tasks, and above all win the approval of the voting public. As they are voted off one by one, only one can be the eventual winner.
While they are in the house, as well as having all of those things to contend with, house guests also have to follow a set of rules. There is a core list of rules written by the originators of Big Brother, and several countries have added their own modifications to make it more interesting or make up for previous situations that went wrong. Those rules dictate every move of the housemates while they are on the show, and can even control what they do after they are voted out.
No matter who you are, you have to abide by the rules. If you don’t, you will be called into the diary room – and from there you will face your punishment. Some contestants have even been kicked off the show after breaking the rules – so this is serious business. Big Brother won’t accept any mistakes, and while there are a few rules that will only give you a ticking off the first time, all of them will get you in a lot of trouble.
15. They Can’t React To The Garden
Usually, the show has a garden area just outside the house. The whole complex is walled in, but that doesn’t mean that it is totally sealed off from the outside world. Sometimes, viewers find out where the house is located during filming, and that can lead to some unwanted things happening.
That’s why there is a specific rule for the guests about the garden: “Housemates must ignore any noise they hear from outside the Big Brother compound. If any objects appear in the garden the Housemates MUST NOT touch or go near them. If people appear in the garden the Housemates MUST NOT communicate with them.”
Housemates are also instructed that they must go inside and close all the doors, and tell Big Brother immediately through the diary room. This will trigger security to come down and take action, if they haven’t already been mobilized.
14. They Can’t Play Music
Another seemingly odd rule is that no one is allowed to take a musical instrument into the house with them. We really don’t get this one – if you have someone who plays an acoustic guitar, for example, it would be great to see the housemates having a singalong. The player could even provide a little ambient background music in some scenes when they are all sitting around talking. It makes even less sense when you consider the celebrity editions of the show, in which you often have actual musicians entering the house. It would be even better to have the professionals strumming along! There may be copyright issues with the music in some cases, but that’s simple: you just have to tell them not to play songs by other artists or give them a pre-prepared list of songs that the producers have secured the rights to.
13. They Have To Take Part In Everything
The rules are very clear on this one: they state, “All tasks are compulsory.” This is the eighth rule in the first part of the rulebook, which means that it is pretty clear for all and is definitely one of the things they are supposed to abide by as much as possible. Taking part in the tasks is something that you can only avoid for health reasons, but considering the fact that you are only chosen to be a houseguest if you are in good health, most people can’t get out of them. No matter how demeaning, hard, or scary the tasks are, each housemate has to take part, no matter what. If someone refuses to take part they will be given punishments in the Diary Room, and may even be asked to leave the show. It makes sense that the producers want every segment to be as entertaining to the viewers as possible.
12. They Must Give Good Nominations
When making nominations, you would think that most people just nominate the people that they don’t like. After all, they want to get them out of the house as soon as possible so that they can just be with their friends. And in fact, usually, this is exactly what happens. The interesting thing, though, is that you can’t just nominate someone because you don’t like them – you have to come up with another reason. The rules state: “If you or any Housemate does not give frank and valid reasons for nomination: this includes the excuse that you get on better with other Housemates than the person you are nominating, or that you have nothing in common with the person that you are nominating, Big Brother reserves the right to issue a punishment. If you persist in giving invalid reasons for your nominations, you may be asked to leave the Big Brother House and may be replaced with a standby Housemate.”
11. They Can’t Pass Messages Out
While in the house, contestants have to play fair, and so none of them know what is going on in the outside world. Similarly, they aren’t allowed to make contact with the outside world, either. There have been a number of occasions on which housemates were caught passing messages in some sneaky way, such as writing things down where the camera could see them or receiving coded emergency messages from family members. This is strictly against the rules, as they state: “Housemates are not permitted to make any attempts to communicate personal messages to anyone in the outside world by any means (this includes verbal messages, written messages or symbols). You may not make any attempt to communicate personal messages to the outside world when you know that Big Brother is broadcasting live… If Big Brother deems that you have attempted to communicate with the outside world, Big Brother will take appropriate action.”
10. There Are Specific Diary Room Rules
The Diary Room is the one place where the housemates are allowed to speak their mind truly freely. The show’s producers might give them tasks that they can’t tell others about, and they may often keep their opinions to themselves to in order to avoid causing trouble with other housemates. They are encouraged to be honest in the diary room, though. But there are still some really specific rules about the room – oddly specific, in fact. “Smoking and eating is not allowed in the Diary Room at any time. You may not wear sunglasses or hats in the Diary Room, unless medically required and pre-arranged with Big Brother before entering the House. Housemates may only enter the Hallway when going to and from the Diary Room. It is against the rules for Housemates to remain in the Hallway while another Housemate is in the Diary Room… Big Brother will not conduct a conversation in the Diary Room with any Housemate until the Hallway is empty.”
9. They Can’t Use Writing Materials
There are so many entries in the rules against writing things down that the Big Brother producers eventually got around to just banning all writing materials entirely. Unless it is part of a specific challenge or given to them by the crew, no one is allowed to use pens or paper. As the rules state: “It is against the rules for Housemates to discuss their nominations with each other. This includes…Writing down or using materials at your disposal to form names, initials or other symbols – this is why the use of pens, pencils or any written communication is strictly against the rules; Any conversation, which Big Brother deems to be a coded discussion or any other method of hidden communication relating to nominations e.g. writing initials with your finger.” So, even air-painting is out of the question as a means of communication. They really thought of everything!
8. They Can’t Speak About The Show
On any show, there are bound to be people behind the scenes that we don’t see. That is certainly true on Big Brother. While it may seem as though they are alone in the house, they will interact at various times with cameramen, with producers, with other crew members, and with the security team. Given that they are meeting plenty of others, you might think that they would have opinions about them and the way they work – but they are strictly forbidden from saying them out loud. The rules state, “Unacceptable behavior includes saying anything which is calculated to bring Big Brother, the producers or the broadcaster into disrepute; Making allegations either recklessly or that they know to be false or libellous.” They also aren’t allowed to discuss previous incarnations of the show, such as by mentioning their favorite past contestants or whether they thought certain evictions were justified.
7. They Have To Look After The House
Spending a few weeks on holiday in a house that isn’t yours, competing for cash and the chance to be recognized across the nation, sounds like a pretty good deal. You can just lounge around, have fun doing the challenges and tasks, and let everyone else take care of anything that needs to be done. Right? Well, no. The rules state that the house has to be kept in good condition, and not by an army of secret cleaners – by the housemates themselves. “It is Housemates’ responsibility to look after the House, garden and their contents,” say the rules. “Items within the House should be kept in working order. It will be up to the discretion of Big Brother whether or not to replace items that are broken or damaged. All furniture and fittings have been positioned in the House by Big Brother and should not be moved.”
6. They Can’t Go Exploring
After being inside the house for so long, sometimes, housemates want to go out and explore a bit more. They may decide to go on some sort of escapade which involves showing off their climbing skills – and even getting a view of the rest of the neighborhood. This isn’t on, however, and the producers ban it. They say: “It is also against the rules to climb on any part of the House, which includes scaling walls or attempting to climb on the roof – this is for the health and safety of Housemates.” Well, that and the fact that they may be able to receive secret messages this way. A few housemates have tried to scale the house, incidentally, and usually with the intention of escaping, since the front door is actually kept locked all day unless it is time for someone to be evicted. Housemates have to request to be let out if they want to leave that way.
5. They Have To Adhere To The Wardrobe Policy
While it’s important to look your best, you can’t bring just anything into the Big Brother house. You have to choose clothing which is acceptable to be shown on television, and if you don’t, you might find your suitcase a little bit lighter. The rules say, “While living in the House you may not: wear clothes with prominent commercial logos, branding or copyrighted images; or clothes that are intended to send a message to friends or colleagues in the outside world. If you take an item of clothing into the House that is later deemed to have too prominent a logo, Big Brother may decide to remove the item for the duration of your stay in the House. In addition, Housemates may not wear items of clothing that have thin stripes on them as they can interfere with the cameras causing a strobing effect.” Well, that last one’s definitely fair!
4. They Must Wake Up When Called
Housemates are woken up in the morning by an alarm. Well, we say the morning – it can actually be any time that the producers wish, such as in the middle of the night or the afternoon. In order to keep things interesting, they won’t allow anyone to sleep in: “Big Brother will wake Housemates each morning with an alarm. When the alarm sounds, Housemates must wake and sit up. The alarm will continue until all Housemates are awake and either sitting up or out of bed. The time at which the alarm is sounded is entirely at Big Brother’s discretion and may vary from day to day. If Housemates fall asleep in the daytime, Big Brother will sound the alarm until all Housemates are awake.” You might have thought it was annoying to share a room in college or have your spouse’s alarm going off on your day off – this has to be a million times worse.
3. They Have To Pretend They’re Not Actors
Yes, that’s right – most of the contestants on Big Brother tend to be actors, or at least ‘personalities’ who have tried to get on every television show out there. Both on the celebrity version and the normal version, there are plenty of people who were headhunted by casting directors or nominated by their agents. In order to maintain the illusion, no one is allowed to talk about that fact. The rules say, “It is also strictly against the rules to discuss any members of the production team, agents or the booking process. Housemates may not discuss their fees.” We suspect that last part is in there to ensure that there aren’t any riots when half of the housemates find out that they are being severely underpaid. After all, they could just not show these conversations if they didn’t want to – they obviously don’t want the Housemates themselves to find out about the others.
2. They Can’t Know The Time
Weirdly enough, there are rules about the Housemates not being allowed to keep track of time. Perhaps it’s because it adds to their social isolation and leads to interesting effects, but whatever the case, they aren’t allowed to keep items with them that tell the time in any way. From the list of prohibited items are these entries: “Calendars of any kind; Timepieces of any description.” Since they aren’t allowed writing materials either, it’s not as if they would be able to write down the date and figure things out that way. It’s a little creepy in a way, to think of their experience being controlled so tightly – the producers could trick them into thinking time had passed or that they had been there for a longer or shorter time than they really had. If it wasn’t for the garden and access to daylight, they would be totally controlled.
1. They Aren’t Allowed To Play Games
It seems as though the producers also have a problem with the contestants playing games. While it would probably be quite entertaining to see them getting competitive with one another and having fun, it’s not something that they will ever be allowed to do. The list of items that Housemates are not allowed to bring in with them includes the following entries: “Games of any description; Any ready made games including playing cards.” It’s odd that they have to specify it twice. Perhaps there was a contestant or two who figured that they would be able to bring playing cards in because they aren’t technically a specific game, but rather a tool for playing various games or doing other things. That would put a dampener on any magicians entering the house, for sure! It seems a shame that they can’t entertain themselves while in the house, and have to stick to the games presented by the show.
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