South African housemates Keagan and Lee on stage during the launch of Big Brother Stargame, held in Johannesburg, South Africa on Sunday 6 May 2012. ( Photo: Cobus Bodenstein.)

The house may have a new look, and a few rules may have changed, but the objective is the same – the last person to leave the Big Brother house after 91 days will walk away with over R2 million in cash.

But this time, the contestants have more competition. To spice things up, seven celebrities have been added to the mix.

Big Brother Africa StarGame, which kicked off last Sunday, has a record 35 contestants vying for the grand prize. And for the first time, the house has been divided into two sections: Upville and Downville.

The luxurious Upville is the home to the seven African celebrities, while the other 28 contestants live in Downville. Another first for the reality show is that housemates from Downville were allowed to enter the competition in pairs.

This year’s housemates hail from Angola, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, SA, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Representing SA in the Downville house is graphic design student Lee Stemment, from Cape Town, and his long-life friend Keegan Petersen, an intern manager from the Mother City.

In Upville, it’s SA model and events manage Babalwa Mneno who will be vying for the prize.

Other celebrity housemates include stand-up comedian and television pro DKB from Ghana, rapper Prezzo from Kenya, award-winning songstress Lady May from Namibia, pop music sensation Goldie from Nigeria, and soul musician Roki from Zimbabwe.

Popular Nigerian presenter IK Osakioduwa has also returned to Big Brother as the presenter for this year’s show.

M-Net said the channel was delighted with the response to Big Brother in the first week.

“Judging by the huge viewer interaction and media attention, it’s undoubtedly the biggest television programme in Africa,” said Lani Lombard, spokesperson for M-Net.

Big Brother fans can expect a number of surprises this season, having already had US rapper J Cole perform during the launch of Big Brother StarGame at the weekend.

“There will definitely be surprises aplenty, but we can’t reveal any of these yet. Keep an eye on the Big Brother house.”

Saturday Star