The highly anticipated season five of Big Brother Naija premieres on Sunday, 19 July 2020. Television audiences across the continent can barely hold in their excitement as they await the drama, intrigue and exhilaration that the show is renowned for bringing, season after season.
The Big Brother reality TV show format involves a group of strangers sharing a camera-filled house for about 12 weeks. Every move is monitored and broadcast 24 hours a day to millions of viewers via a dedicated TV channel. These strangers, or “housemates”, interact with each other and participate in physical and mental challenges whilst in the house. Each week, at least one housemate with the lowest number of votes is evicted. The eviction follows secret nominations by all housemates, with viewers then voting for the nominated persons. After three months, the final housemate in the house emerges winner of the reality show.
One thing BBNaija is infamous for is controversy. Despite the attendant criticisms associated with the show, thousands of young Nigerians still audition every year when a call for auditions is made. It’s easy to see why – BBNaija elevates personalities from relative nobodies to instant stardom.
Unprecedented times call for unprecedented tactics and given valid fears over the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisers of the show moved auditions for the fifth season online. Despite this, it was reported that over 30,000 young Nigerians entered for the online auditions in May, a testament to the show’s popularity.
Asides being a gateway to continental celebrity status and bringing fun and entertainment into the homes of millions, BBNaija has revolutionised the Nigerian creative and entrepreneurial industries in ways that only a production effort of this scale can. The effects of this show have been felt in several ancillary industries and support services such as set design, photography, audio-visual production, fashion and beauty.
Set Design: For the uninformed viewers of the reality show, the multi-million-dollar studio that accommodates the housemates is located here in Lagos, Nigeria. The studio was designed and built by Nigerians and the amazing set design was done by Nigerians too. One can only begin to imagine the amount of money, experience, skill and reputation that those contracted to do the job would have earned. In the last season of the reality show, when observed closely, the BBNaija house tries to showcase the beauty of the city with its interior décor. Popping colours, bright lights, African-themed decors, pastel coloured couches and more are some of things that have stood out in the house. These design schemes are the product of some of the best interior-design minds in Nigeria today. It goes without saying that this high-level continental exposure has done wonders for the designers; a decent paycheck when added to that only furnishes the grand story further.
Audio-visual: Inside sources disclose that close to 40 cameras are placed in the BBNaija house. There are over seven handheld cameras and 32 que ball cameras in the house to capture every activity in and outside the house. With the cameras also come the microphones to pick up every conversation no matter how discreet the housemates try to make it. The technical crew comprising Nigerians, enjoy world class training required for a world class show, whilst also enjoying the perks and privileges accorded to a world-class crew. When the seas wraps, these newly upskilled professionals take their skills to other productions in the country, contributing to an increased technical expertise on Nigerian TV sets, and uplifting the Nigerian media experience.
Fashion and Beauty: It goes without saying that fashion and entertainment go together. You cannot be a great entertainer with a poor dress sense. For a creative talent to make an impact in his or her craft, he or she needs to have great fashion sense. And believe it or not, some viewers of the reality show watch the BBNaija show because of the stunning and glamorous dress sense of housemates, host and guest performers. During the last edition of the show, one could almost mistake it for a fashion show because several fashion brands sponsored the show. The presenter of the show, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, ever the dapper gentleman, was routinely and proudly dressed in customized Nigerian couture. The ripple effect is impressive – most of the brands featured on the show have shared testimonials of increased patronage and a spike in social media followership and notoriety. The platform provided by BBNaija has elevated Nigeria’s billion-naira fashion industry to the rest of the world. No mean feat.
Then there’s the beauty. Television comes with glitz, charm and attraction. For the presenter of the show and the housemates to appeal to viewers at home, there is the need to look magnificent and here is where the makeup artist comes to play. These artists make the presenter and others who are part of the show to look good for television and the audience at home. For these makeup artistes, the show remains an unrivalled source of revenue generation and instant international promotion.
Revenue and publicity for entertainers: Many music artistes are aware that if you want to get publicity for your song and remain relevant in your craft, the BBNaija show is unparalleled. This platform provides established and up and coming artistes with an avenue to reach millions of fans within and outside Nigeria. The exposure is not limited to artistes – Disc Jockeys or “DJs” are contracted to perform week-in, week-out during the Saturday night parties and live eviction shows.
MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) Academy: The MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) is a Creative Shared Value programme of MultiChoice. The MTF Academy is a 12-month fully funded training programme aimed at upskilling the next generation of passionate young film creatives. These young talents learn the art of television production through hands-on training and with BBNaija reality show commencing soon, it’s believed that the management of the Academy would deploy students to be part of the production crew. This will invariably enable them gain practical experience on what it takes to produce a reality show, putting them on a clear path to creative prosperity, renown and entrepreneurship.
A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, one of India’s great leaders, once said that “when creativity blossoms, thinking emanates and when thinking emanates, knowledge is fully lit and when knowledge is lit, economy flourishes”. True to this fact, MultiChoice Nigeria has continued to ignite the nation’s creative industries through its investments in original productions such as the Big Brother Naija reality show. The lives of many Nigerians have been enriched economically through this incredible show and other local content, and one can only hope that this continues to unravel the Nigerian creative industry as a viable economic contributor.