The Circle 2018 Winner Alex Hobern Reveals Producers Went To Extreme Lengths To Keep Players Separate: ’They Chucked Haribo In And Left’

8 October 2019, 17:26 | Updated: 8 October 2019, 17:31

The Circle's 2018 winner Alex Hobern revealed what the experience is really like
The Circle's 2018 winner Alex Hobern revealed what the experience is really like. Picture: Channel 4

The Circle sees players in separate apartments communicate via a social media platform, meaning they can pretend to be whoever they want.

Channel 4’s The Circle returned on 24 September, with a whole new host of hopeful players aiming to scoop the hefty prize by either remaining as themselves or creating another persona.

Each player gets a cosy apartment of their own in a block in Salford, meaning they only talk to each other via the social media platform, The Circle, and producers ensure their paths never cross.

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For three weeks the contestants can’t leave the block, but they are well looked after by producers and crew members keeping an eye on them.

The whole experience in season one sparked a lot of questions about how the programme actually works, so we asked 2018 winner Alex Hobern what goes on behind the scenes, including – very importantly – how the contestants get their groceries.

In an exclusive chat with Capital, the season one winner – who fooled his co-stars into believing he was actually a female named Kate – revealed how the players are looked after during their three weeks alone.

The Circle players can go to the gym if they need
The Circle players can go to the gym if they need. Picture: Channel 4
This year's apartment block has a rooftop with a hot tub
This year's apartment block has a rooftop with a hot tub. Picture: Channel 4

Alex told us when it comes to the grocery shopping, they simply have to leave a list and the goods later appears “like magic”.

He explained: “It’s the ideal scenario – you write a shopping list and leave it on the side and then you go up to the roof or the gym, or to do your diary room you come back and it’s all there!

“There was one time I was desperate for some sweets and I said, ‘I refuse to do anything else until someone brings me some sweets’… I remember a little sweaty person knocking on the door, they chucked in some Haribo and left.

“It’s all run very smooth, the same with washing and bedding it’s all done when you’re out so there’s no crossover and no chance for you to find anything out from people.”

In order to leave the apartment and go to the gym or the roof for some fresh air, Alex explained contestants have to request at the start of the day where they’d like to go so producers could arrange who would be out of their flats at certain times.

He continued: “You can request to leave your room but you’re super on lock down so you’d just say in your microphone, ‘I need to go to the gym today', or 'I need to go to the roof' and at some point during the day you’re told you can do that.

“But of course everyone else is on lockdown at that point. You’re wearing headphones so you don’t hear anyone screaming, ‘are you Freddie’ or whatever’ and then you’re taken up to wherever you’re going and then once you’re done you’re taken straight back to your flat.”

The whole experience can get a little bit lonely, as players only communicate with each other through The Circle, but the 2018 winner said there are psychologists on hand to help if it all becomes too much.

He continued: “You get runners that come in and out of your room but you don’t get to speak to them, and there are psychologists you can speak to if you need to which is always helpful if you need someone to confide in when you’re experiencing symptoms to do with isolation – as you can imagine being stuck in a flat for three weeks.”

Alex also said it has helped staying friends with the 2018 finalists, as they all went through the bizarre experience together and frequently talk about it.

The Circle is back for series two tonight.

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