When is The Circle on TV, and how does it work?

Channel 4's brand-new social media reality show is presented by Alice Levine and Maya Jama

Sian, The Circle (C4)

Channel 4’s latest reality show The Circle is all about the power of social media — and being liked by your fellow contestants is everything.

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Here’s all you need to know about The Circle.

What time is The Circle on TV?

The Circle first airs on Tuesday 18th September at 9.15pm on Channel 4. It will then air nightly until Friday 21st September, before continuing the following week. It lasts for three weeks in total.

What’s the show about?

If you’ve ever questioned how closely someone’s online persona mirrors their real-life personality, then this may well be the show for you.

The Circle, presented by Alice Levine and Maya Jama, is essentially a popularity contest, but with a twist — all social interactions are carried out online (think cyber version of Big Brother).

Contestants spend three weeks in a block of flats, but they’re all in separate apartments — they communicate via ‘The Circle’, a social media platform, and their online avatar is entirely up to them. The aim of the game is to avoid being ‘blocked’ (i.e. eliminated from the game), at which point the other contestants will discover whether that person was who they said they were, or someone else entirely…

How does The Circle work?

Dan, The Circle (C4)
Dan, The Circle (C4)

The Circle is a bespoke, voice-activated social media platform created for the series which allows the contestants to create a profile, join group chats, send private messages and play games. All these actions are achieved by contestants speaking to The Circle – for example, asking “Circle, can you take me to Jonny’s profile?” – through one of many interactive TV screens installed in every flat.

When sending messages to each other, contestants have to say “message” before their statement and “send” after they’ve finished, though RadioTimes.com understands that some of these vocal commands will be edited put of the final broadcast to create a more fluid viewing experience.

How was The Circle filmed?

Channel 4 carried out at least two “dry runs” of the experiment using other volunteers to test out the system, though sadly that footage won’t be used for the series. In fact, the series was filmed very close to broadcast – only beginning in the days leading up to the Tuesday 18th September start date – through a network of movable cameras and microphones built into the contestants’ flats.

Do they really all stay in the flats the whole time?

Yes and no – while contestants can’t interact with each other except when when leaving the contest, and they do have to live alone in the flats during their time in the series, they are allowed to a patio area on the roof, to the gym and off-site for special activities – just so long as they don’t cross paths with their Circle, er, circle…

Who are the contestants?

There are eight contestants in total, of a variety of ages and backgrounds. They range from 31-year-old Genelle, who’ll be bringing her 6-month-old along to The Circle, to social media queen Aiden, 19, and 26-year-old Londoner Alex, a social media producer with thousands of online followers.

Jennifer, The Circle (C4)
Jennifer, The Circle (C4)
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Mum-of-two Jennifer, 40, will also be joining The Circle – but she’s a technophobe who doesn’t let her daughters use social media. But will The Circle change her mind…?