Disturbing footage has emerged of a “Big Brother” Spain contestant being confronted by producers with video of herself allegedly being sexually assaulted by another housemate on the reality show – and then being told not to talk about it with her fellow contestants.
Carlota Prado was brought into the “Big Brother” house’s “diary room,” where participants talk to the voice of Big Brother, and was shown video of the incident, which took place in 2017 and involved fellow contestant Jose María Lopez allegedly assaulting her in bed after an alcohol-fueled party inside the house.
It’s unclear whether Prado knew herself that the alleged assault had occurred. But in footage obtained by Spanish newspaper El Confidencial, she grows visibly distressed as the video unspools in the diary room, and asks the show’s unseen producers to turn it off. The producers then tell her not to talk about it before sending in a psychologist to speak with her.
Endemol Shine, the company behind the “Big Brother” format, said in a statement to Variety on Friday that the footage has been turned over to Spanish authorities – in encrypted form, to protect Prado’s privacy – as part of the legal process. (El Confidencial did not reveal where it had obtained the footage.) Endemol Shine also said it regretted the way that producers had shown Prado the upsetting video.
“We’d like to stress no footage was ever shot with the intention of being broadcast,” the company said in its statement. “However, with hindsight we regret that the conversation where Carlota was informed took place in the diary room environment.”
The statement added: “The footage was only supplied as evidence when requested by the authorities, encrypted and guarded. The decision not to inform the housemates of the incident, and why Carlota was asked not to mention the incident at the time, was taken by the production team in good faith at that point, in order to protect her privacy and because the incident was due to be reported to the police.”
The original incident dates back to November 2017, on the night of a party at the “Big Brother” house. Lopez is filmed putting Prado to bed before the alleged assault took place.
Sometime later, Prado woke up and was taken by the show’s producers to the diary room, where she sat alone while being shown video of the alleged assault. In the footage obtained by El Confidencial, she can be seen becoming increasingly upset.
“Can you stop it now?” she asks the show’s unseen producers. Through speakers, the disembodied voice of Big Brother says yes but that there is more. Still alone, Prado spends more than 10 minutes in the diary room in conversation with the voice, during which she is asked to agree not to speak to anyone about the incident. The voice also says that Lopez would be kicked out of the house for “inappropriate behavior.” A producer and psychologist then finally enter the room.
The producers swiftly expelled Lopez afterward. Prado returned to the house a few days later.
It is unclear where the case is in the investigative or legal process. According to the El Confidencial report, “neither Telecinco nor ‘Big Brother’ have contacted Carlota in the two years since. Carlota has been in psychological and psychiatric treatment that whole time, on medication and unable to work.”
The show’s producer in Spain is Zeppelin, which is part of the Endemol Shine Group, and the local broadcaster is Mediaset’s Telecinco. In a statement to Variety, Telecinco said “a contestant was expelled for actions that the producer considered intolerable, and thereafter passed on to the Civil Guard. We remain attentive to the results of the investigation and to the total clarification of the facts, respecting the privacy of the people affected.”
Read the Endemol Shine Group statement in full:
“We have protocols in place for Big Brother which were followed by the team in Spain. Following these, the production team on duty overnight became suspicious of an incident and escalated it to the show’s Executive Producers. Upon review, housemate Jose María was expelled from the house, housemate Carlota received professional support from independent counselors. After several days out of the house, during which Carlota was continually accompanied, and continued to receive psychological support, she then decided not to press charges and to return to the program, with the psychologist’s approval.
“We’d like to stress no footage was ever shot with the intention of being broadcast. However, with hindsight we regret that the conversation where Carlota was informed took place in the diary room environment. The footage was only supplied as evidence when requested by the authorities, encrypted and guarded. The decision not to inform the housemates of the incident, and why Carlota was asked not to mention the incident at the time, was taken by the production team in good faith at that point, in order to protect her privacy and because the incident was due to be reported to the police. As a judicial matter, we are respectful of the ongoing legal process.”
Jamie Lang contributed to this report.