As North Americans, we often forget that Big Brother is a world-wide phenomenon stretching from Africa to Vietnam, with franchises in 50 countries.
Outside of North America, the game itself sticks to the original incarnation with the HouseGuests nominating each other for eviction but only the viewers voting them out. There is no Head of Household and usually the HouseGuests are forbidden from discussing who they are nominating and why.
Having followed them since their inception, to me, the UK and Australian installments have shown themselves to be masters of pitting HouseGuests against one another and of devising some truly devious and unforgettable twists.
Here are some twists I would love to see adopted by Big Brother US and Big Brother Canada to cause as much drama as possible.
1. Rich, poor or heaven, hell houses
Used in both the UK and Australian editions, the infamous twist has the house divided in two and separated by bars, other barriers. One side is a posh residence with the best of food and accommodations. The other side is a lowly hovel. A task or draw determined who would live in which side with some HouseGuests having to earn the right to move over to the rich house.
Greatest. Big Brother. Task. Ever.
In 2012, Big Brother UK created, in my mind, the challenge of all challenges. Turf Wars had the house divided into two teams battling for control of every location in and outside the house. The losing team was not able to enter or use any of the items in that particular room. Example: Losing the bathroom meant using porta potties in the backyard, losing the kitchen meant eating the food Big Brother provided. The final and most important location was the Diary Room. The team that took control of the Diary Room were the sole HouseGuests to nominate for eviction. With such high stakes the challenge turned friends against each other and caused drama unlike any challenge on Big Brother.
3. Family – loved ones nominations
Another clever twist used internationally is permitting loved ones or family members of the HouseGuests to nominate in the place of their respective HouseGuest for the week. There is no without prior consultation between HouseGuests and their loved ones, family members. This twist causes drama on a very personal level.
4. Face to face nominations
One way the UK and Australia have found to stir up lots of trouble in the house is have the HouseGuests nominated each other face to face. In those editions, the HouseGuests have to give valid reasons to Big Brother for their nominations every week.
5. Weekly food competitions
Although they were a major part of season one of Big Brother US and are a staple of the international versions, weekly food competitions have never made their way back to Big Brother US.
For those who are not sure how this works, the HouseGuests have to win the money to purchase food for the week by completing a week-long competition. If they lose, they get a very basic budget. The benefit of this over the standard Have/Have Not competitions is the amount of drama weekly food competitions cause. If the HouseGuests fail, the basic budget provides for meager rations which makes people quite grumpy. Also, whether they win or lose, only one HouseGuest must order the groceries by compiling a list for Big Brother which always causes friction between people because of their likes, dislikes and dietary restrictions.
During a season of Big Brother UK, one HouseGuest decided to pull a prank on everyone and spent their entire food budget on bananas and food colouring. Another bought nothing else but chocolate.
During the 2012 season, the Australian producers introduced an interesting twist: a nomination chamber. Each time they nominated, all of the HouseGuests sat in a special room containing a sound proof booth in it. As each HouseGuest voted, they entered the chamber and vocalized their nominations in front of all the other HouseGuests sitting a few feet away. This provided much merriment as the HouseGuests tried to read each other’s lips and when a HouseGuest forgot to close the chamber door before voting.
7. Australian nomination points system
Another curious Aussie twist had the HouseGuests being given or winning nomination points which they distributed between their two nominations. After the voting, the HouseGuests with the most nomination points overall were put up for eviction.
8. Workroom challenges
Although this task comes in different formats, it has the same goal: to pull the wool over the eyes of one of the HouseGuests. Big Brother informs the HouseGuests the weekly food challenge requires them to work most of the day in isolated rooms. Usually the tasks are attaching nuts to bolts, separating coloured objects, etc. The twist of the task is only one selected HouseGuest is actually working. While that person is slaving away each day, the other HouseGuests are participating in the real task which is sharing in great, fun rewards. If the worker HouseGuest discovers they are the only worker the HouseGuests lose the task.
9. Power trip
The current Big Brother UK twist has the viewers naming one HouseGuest the Power Player every week. The identity of the Power Player is kept secret from the rest of the house. That player has the power to influence, twist and control events in the house such a giving someone a pass to the finals, forcing someone to be nominated every single week until they leave the house or punishing, rewarding the HouseGuests as they see fit.
10. Big Brother vs. Big Brother
When two international series are airing at the same time, Big Brother players in different nations have battled each other in real time tasks. Example: Big Brother Germany players faced Big Brother UK players in a penalty shoot-out task with the prize being tickets to 2010 FIFA World Cup (Round of 16) Germany versus England game.