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EDITIONS
Thursday, 26 July, 2001, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
South Africa's reality TV race test
Work on the TV gallery for South Africa's Big Brother
The contestants will be watched by 27 cameras
South Africa is putting the final touches to its version of Big Brother - and is putting together a mix of housemates that is intended to "rattle racial preconceptions".

Producers say their take on the reality TV phenomenon, which starts in August, will be entertainment and not a social experiment in the post-apartheid era.

But many will view the progress of 10 mixed housemates - with no outside contact for three and a half months - with interest.


We're trying to create a group that rattles racial preconceptions to some degree

Neil McCarthy
Series content editor
Some say relations inside the house and opinions outside it could be seen as a signpost to the country's current state of race relations.

But producers insist events and relations on the show should not be given wider significance - and refuse to choose a mix of housemates that exactly reflects the country's ethnic variety.

"We don't want to fall into the trap of this being seen as some kind of litmus test for the country," said series content editor Neil McCarthy.

"We're trying to create a group that rattles racial preconceptions to some degree."

Producers held the second round of auditions for the show last week, with the contestants entering the house in late August.

Series content editor Neil McCarthy
McCarthy: Doesn't want it to be a "litmus test"
Serame Taukobong, director of marketing at M Net, the television company responsible for producing the show, says interesting questions are bound to arise.

"How does one, as a viewer, vote people out of the house? Do you vote them out because of the colour of their skin or because they're really irritating people?

"Does conflict become a racial thing or a personality thing?"

Executive producer Marie Rosholt says the show will be about people getting on together.

Filmed continuously

"It's not about conflict and I do believe it will be a positive experience for all South Africans," she said.

As in other countries, housemates will be locked in and filmed continuously by dozens of cameras.

The contestants will be whittled down by a mixture of nominations from other housemates and a public vote.

The winner after 106 days will scoop the 1m Rand (85,600) prize.

The Big Brother format, which was first a hit in Holland, has now been sold to 18 countries.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Peter Biles in Johannesburg
"Their every move monitored around the clock for 106 days"

In DepthIN DEPTH
BBC News Online's reality TV sectionReality bites
Keep an eye on the reality TV phenomenon
See also:

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