Big Brother producer has high hopes for new reality tv format Utopia

Dutch television production company Endemol, inventor of the Big Brother format, has launched a new reality soap on Dutch tv called Utopia.

The show premiered on SBS6 on Monday night and attracted 1.5 million viewers, according to preliminary audience figures.

Utopia centres on 15 people living on a piece of land near Laren and attempting to build up a new community. They have been provided with a shed, two cows, some chickens, water and electricity connections, a telephone and a safe with €10,000.


The 15 participants include seven women and eight men. They include a builder, a nurse and a security guard as well as a wrestler and a tramp. Every month one resident will be voted out and replaced by two more candidates, one of whom will be invited to stay after a trial period.

The group are under the watchful eye of 98 cameras. As well as the daily show, viewers can follow events live via the internet and take part in voting who should leave the site.

Endemol owner John de Mol, who is reportedly in dispute with SBS’s principle shareholder over the channel’s performance, told the AD last week he hopes the new show will generate 1.5 million viewers. Of them, 800,000 should become regulars, De Mol said.

No interference

The difference with other Big Brother-style shows is that the group will be left to get on with their new lives for a year, without interaction with the outside world.

‘This means as producers we have no way of steering events,’ De Mol told the Volkskrant. ‘It is a social experiment and all we can do is record it.’

Production leader Willem Roskam told the paper the team can be at the site within 40 seconds if necessary. ‘The residents will have to solve their own arguments but of course we have our responsibilities.’

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