Big Brother Canada: Those challenges you see on Big Brother Canada are harder than they look


Lara Croft I am not.

Or Katniss Everdeen or anyone else you can think of who’s good with a bow and arrow.

I couldn’t even properly nock my foam-tipped arrow — let alone shoot it — during a media challenge at the studio where Big Brother Canada is filmed.

“Work on your social game,” advised co-executive producer Trevor Boris, who runs the show’s challenge department.

“The great thing about the show is even though it’s a competition-based show, there’s always a social element,” he added later. “You can do very well without comps.”

That’s good to know since competitions clearly aren’t my thing (well, except maybe dancing; I won a media hip-hop challenge once).

On the weekend, 12 media representatives test-ran the Tomb Raider-inspired challenge that the real Big Brother Canada house guests will do in Wednesday’s episode (Global at 7 p.m.).

Competitions serve two purposes on the homegrown reality series and its longer-running U.S. counterpart, in which strangers are locked in a “house” together under 24/7 surveillance. Challenge winners either become Head of Household, which allows them to nominate two people for the weekly eviction, or they gain Power of Veto, which allows them to remove one of the two nominees from the chopping block.

Boris, a comedian, producer and writer whose claims to fame include being a regular on MuchMusic’s now defunct Video on Trial, has been in charge of Big Brother Canada challenges since its second season.

“For me, what makes a good challenge is you want a lot of different skill sets,” said Boris, who picks the challenges months before the house guests are chosen. “You don’t want someone who’s just physical to win.”

So, for instance, puzzles and trivia figure into competitions alongside things that require brute strength or speed.

Contests also have to be fun to watch and to play. And Boris, who spent a season working on the U.S. Big Brother in 2016, tries not to repeat challenges, which he says is one of the ways the Canadian series differs from the American (the others being more diverse casts and unique twists, he says).

His favourite so far was a Season 3 challenge in which house guests had to make their way through an “ant farm” maze.

In Season 6 to date, contestants have clung to a wall while flames burned a few feet behind them, with the last to drop declared the winner; and dressed like worms, inching their way along a ramp then using their heads to roll large balls up an incline and into holes.

Monday’s competition was to involve trivia — “done in a mind-blowing way,” Boris promised — and Wednesday, the house guests will channel their inner action heroes for the Tomb Raider test.

For that one, Boris took inspiration from the film, which he saw ahead of its March 16 release, so there is running, jumping, climbing, archery and puzzles. The media competitors, however, skipped the first three elements for safety reasons and stuck to the more sedentary parts.

In the Big Brother House “backyard,” with 15 house guests just on the other side of a wall soundproofed with mattresses, we started out tied to posts with our hands behind our backs before moving on to bows and arrows and then a large jigsaw puzzle.

I’m not gonna lie. Among my group of six, I was the only one who didn’t shoot at least one arrow. I was also the last to undo the five or six knots in the rope binding my hands (although I was told some people didn’t untie all of theirs) and I was still staring uncomprehendingly at my puzzle pieces when Ika Wong, former Big Brother competitor turned ET Canada correspondent, put me out of my misery by winning the challenge.

I took some heart from the fact that Boris — who tries out the challenges himself along with other crew members — says he’s terrible at puzzles.

“I’m actually terrible at a lot of the challenges,” he confessed.

But then again, “I don’t need to be the best, I just need to come up with them.”

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