This added a survivalist element to the show, increasing the potential for social tension.

Nearly all later series provide a modern house for the contest with a jacuzzi, sauna, VIP suite, loft and other luxuries.

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Occasionally, non-standard votes occur, where two houseguests are evicted at once or no one is voted out.

In the earlier series of Big Brother, there were 10 contestants with evictions every two weeks.

Housemates are voted out (usually on a weekly basis) until only one remains and wins the cash prize.

During their stay in the house, contestants are continuously monitored by live television cameras as well as personal audio microphones.

In some countries, Internet broadcasting was supplemented by updates via email, WAP and SMS.

The house is shown live on satellite television, although in some countries there is a 10–15 minute delay to allow libelous or unacceptable content (such as references to people not participating in the program who have not consented to having personal information broadcast) to be removed.

The contestants are required to do housework and are assigned tasks by the producers of the show (who communicate with the housemates via the omnipresent authority figure known to them only as "Big Brother").

The tasks are designed to test their teamwork abilities and community spirit.

In some countries, the housemates' shopping budget or weekly allowance (to buy food and other essentials) depends on the outcome of assigned tasks.