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Monday, 12 November, 2001, 16:31 GMT
Russian 'Big Brother' bares all
Russia's Big Brother
It didn't take the participants long to break the ice
A Russian reality TV show set in a purpose-built flat inside a hotel off Red Square is attracting queues of eager voyeurs.

A one-way mirror window allows the public to watch the six contestants - who will be eliminated weekly by public poll - competing to win a one bedroom Moscow flat.

Russia's Big Brother
Olga and Margarita settled into their new home
Cameras are allowed everywhere within the flat, including the shower and toilet and the results, broadcast on TV and the internet, are causing a stir.

Za Steklom or Behind The Glass, has been criticised as "porn" in the newspaper Izvestia last week, and "with no limits" by Moskovskiye Novosti.

The programme has been likened to the Big Brother format, which was part of the first wave of reality TV shows on channels across the world.

Events inside the flat have become a major topic of conversation in Moscow since the show's 27 October launch.

Extroverted

Many Russians, who are used to more conventional styles of programming, have been scandalised by antics at the flat.

The makers of Za Steklom said they found foreign versions of Big Brother "boring" and as a consequence chose extroverted contestants.

In the first week of the show, a young man, Sacha, joined Margo in the shower to soap her back.

Sasha's fiancée Macha subsequently broke off their engagement on a talk show on the grounds that he had publicly humiliated her.

Sasha then quit the show in an attempt to patch up the relationship.

Contestant watching a video
The show is not entirely intense socialising
Since this scene, a variety of liaisons amongst the contestants have kept the ratings for the show sky high.

Advertisers are keen to get slots around the show and even the independent and respected radio station Ekho Moskvy is carrying tapes from the flat.

The programme's producer, Ivan Usachev, said at the launch of Za Steklom, that there were high aims for the show.

"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."

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.

Za Steklom is broadcast three times a day on Russia TV6 and the flat can be viewed live 24 hours a day on the web.

See also:

04 Sep 00 | Talking Point
Reality TV: What's the attraction?
29 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
Russia is watching Big Brother
30 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Russia
24 May 01 | TV and Radio
Reality TV around the globe
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