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Monday, 29 October, 2001, 16:32 GMT
Russia is watching Big Brother
Competitors enjoying a meal inside the Big Brother flat
It didn't take the participants long to break the ice
Russia has launched its own version of the reality TV show Big Brother, set in a purpose-built flat inside a hotel off Red Square.

The six contestants are faced with the prospect of a potential 34 days inside the 128 sq m flat in the Rossiya Hotel as the Russian public votes each week on who to eliminate.

Contestant watching a video
Taking a break from the intense socialising
The programme's producer, Ivan Usachev, said he has no specific tasks lined up for the participants as yet, and they will just go about everyday life in the flat.

The top prize for the last person to be eliminated will be a flat worth about 1,200,000 roubles (27,500).

Forgotten pastimes

"The purpose of the experiment is to take people back to the times when there was no television," Mr Usachev said.

"We will see whether today's youth has retained a love of talking."

Mr Usachev told Ekho Moskvy radio agency that Za Steklom, or Behind the Glass, would provide an insight into the lives of three men and three women who have already gone through a series of difficult tests in order to make it just this far.

Two girls chat in their shared bedroom
Olga and Margarita settle into their new home
The contestants, he said, will just live their lives, talk, do physical exercises, watch videos and listen to music.

The flat, in the hotel's right wing, offers the inmates no recourse to the outside world, nor do they have the option of taking a stroll in the already wintry Moscow air.

For those unable to endure their confinement, escape will prove costly, however - anyone wishing to quit the show will be forced to pay a fine.

The producers are obviously counting on the show's success - the programme is due to be broadcast three times a day on Russia TV6 and the flat can be viewed live 24 hours a day on the web.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

24 May 01 | TV and Radio
Reality TV around the globe
04 Sep 00 | Talking Point
Reality TV: What's the attraction?
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