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What are the big format changes for The Circle series 2?

A new host, new live shows and a bigger prize fund; here’s what’s changing about The Circle for its second run

Emma Willis
Published: Monday, 23rd September 2019 at 1:53 pm

The Circle is making its much-anticipated return to Channel 4 for its second run. Something of a cult hit among its fanbase, the show has since garnered international attention – with an American version for Netflix now in production.


The second series of the social media (un)reality show is set to up the ante for 2019, with new format points, a new host – and an even bigger prize fund.

Here’s what’s changed about The Circle for series 2…

A new host

Emma Willis
Emma Willis on The Circle (Channel 4)

While the first series was hosted by Alice Levine and Maya Jama, the pair didn’t feature too heavily throughout the series.

Former Big Brother host Emma Willis is now taking the reins for series two, fronting an extended 90 minute episode for the show’s live launch.

“I’m delighted to be part of something incredibly relevant and can’t wait to see how mischievous people are prepared to be for £100,000,” she said upon entering The Circle.

“I’m an avid people watcher and fascinated by the positives and negatives of social media. I got hooked on the first series and thought it was a smart format that highlights how we shouldn’t take everything on social media at face value.”

New live shows

Very similar to Big Brother, The Circle will now see Willis host a live show every Friday.

The new live shows now give viewers at home a chance to influence the narrative in The Circle in different and dramatic ways via the show’s bespoke app.

“The second series will have more of what the viewers loved – warmth, humour, more live elements and even more surprises. I’m excited to see how it will build on the success of series one,” says Kelly Webb-Lamb, Channel 4 Deputy Director of Programmes.

“This year we have some thrilling twists and turns in both our casting and the gameplay.”

One such 'thrilling twist' is the inclusion of Richard Madeley (yes, that Richard Madeley) in our starting line-up with viewers at home being able to vote on what profile the presenter will have to embody during his time in the social media game.

A celebrity player

The Circle - Richard Madeley
The Circle - Richard Madeley Channel 4

Everyone's favourite presenter, Richard Madeley has signed up for series 2, but he won't be playing himself. He has "absolutely no idea" who he will be for his fellow players, with the audience tasked with choosing his identity in a show first. What he does know is that he'll be an "agent of mischief".

A bigger prize fund

Alex/Kate in The Circle (C4, EH)

Last year our influencers were in with a chance of winning up to £75,000 – with £50,000 awarded to who was crowned the ‘top influencer’ amongst other participants
in The Circle, and £25,000 being awarded to the viewers’ favourite.

Series one winner Alex Hobern scooped both prizes last year, seeing him take home the full £75,000.

This year, the stakes are even higher as the total prize money has now been raised to £100,000.

A longer run-time

The Circle’s first run was on air for three weeks, seeing the players more-or-less in total isolation from most physical human contact – instead, only being able to communicate with others through the social network.

Now, The Circle is currently billed to run for three-and-a-half weeks, which will see some of them having to keep up their catfishing for a few extra days.

It’s a move that saw last year’s winner Alex Hobern comment on the difficulty of the show’s isolation aspect.

“I want to meet those people afterwards and give them a handshake if they’re there for four weeks,” he told “I was on the verge of walking out multiple times towards the end.”


The Circle launches Tuesday at 9.15pm and continues weeknights at 10pm on Channel 4


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