Netflix’s The Circle: 13 things you never knew about the Channel 4 reality show as season 3 starts streaming

The Circle is back for a third season, find out exclusive behind the scenes secrets of the addictive reality series. Photos: Courtesy of Netflix

Even though the American version of The Circle dropped on Netflix in 2020, the series has been around since 2018. Didn’t realise? Here’s 13 surprising things you didn’t know about the hit reality show, as series 3 lands on Netflix.

The Circle started as a British show, and it’s quickly expanding to other countries, too

The Circle is becoming a global phenomenon. Photo: Netflix

Before the American version of The Circle hit Netflix, the British version aired for two seasons on the UK’s Channel 4, from 2018 through 2019.


Following the series’ success, Netflix debuted The Circle: Brazil in March 2020 and The Circle: France in April 2020.

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Although the contestants are from the US, the series is filmed in the UK – and all versions of The Circle are filmed in the same place

All versions of The Circle are filmed in the same place. Photo: Netflix

Despite the establishing shots, the decor of the apartments, and the food featured on the show all seeming very American, the series is actually filmed in Northern England.

Creator Tim Harcourt told Vulture in January 2020 that all of that is intentional since the show is created to reflect the home country of the cast members for each version of the series.

“We filmed all four versions of the show in the same block of flats in a town called Salford in Manchester in the United Kingdom. And for each version – the Brazilian, the American, the French, the British version – we had to sort of design personal touches that made it feel like home for everyone who was living in there.”

Some of the show’s establishing shots are of American cities, though

No wonder so many viewers thought the show was filmed in America. Photo: Netflix

Although the series was not filmed in the US, Harcourt told Vulture that many of the aerial shots seen on The Circle are of American cities, like Chicago and Milwaukee.


“We wanted the building to be in a non-specific location for the US version – the feeling that it could be anywhere,” Harcourt said. “However, it didn’t make sense to add shots of the UK and its cities – in fact, it was confusing – so we added US cityscapes to give it an American feel for most the audience who assume it is somewhere in the US.”

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The Circle is run from a large control room with a staff of over 20 people

A team of 20 to 30 showrunners were manning the room. Photo: Netflix

Given that the cast members spend 24 hours a day in their apartments, there was an abundance of video and audio content as well as gameplay that was constantly happening.

When asked by Vulture how showrunners managed everything, Harcourt said there was a massive control room in a “disused college university campus” that had wires from the cast’s block of flats connected to it.

“In there, we had a huge control room, which at any time would have between 20 and 30 producers and camera ops working, recording, logging everything that was going on, and also studying the game,” he explained.

The show’s communication platform is not actually voice-activated

There were actually dozens of people working to share the messages. Photo: Netflix

The Circle depicted a social-media platform that was extremely intuitive and quick to respond to voice activation – but it doesn’t exactly work that way in real life.


The show’s creator told Vulture in that same interview that although the platform was a functional app specifically designed for the show, it was not as technologically advanced as it seemed on-screen.

“So what we actually have is, when you talk to the Circle, there’s a producer who’s transcribing what you say. Instantly, that gets pushed to the next room. So there is some humanity in the app, and that’s a couple of producers whose job it is to take dictation from the players,” Harcourt said.

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Joey and Shooby’s friendship is still going strong

The bromance lives on. Photo: Netflix

Joey Sasso confirmed on Instagram that his bromance with fellow cast member Shubham “Shooby” Goel is just as strong in real life as it was on the show.


In January 2020, Sasso posted a screenshot of an hour-long phone conversation with Shubham, captioning the photo, “Yes people that’s right, the bromance is still real. Nothing fake about it. Love my boy @shubham_goell.”

In March 2020, Sasso posted a TikTok video he made with Shubham where the dynamic duo talked about how social distancing amid the coronavirus fears makes them feel like they’re back on The Circle.

People said, ‘Dude, why are you wearing your sunglasses inside, you tool?’ And I’m like, ‘Look, I get it, but there’s tons of lights in there … I’ll take the ‘tool’ comment all day long as long as my eyes aren’t killing me
Joey, on The Circle

Although Karyn didn’t know the real person behind the photos she was using to portray Mercedeze, she was eventually contacted by her

Karyn decided to be one of the show’s catfishes. Photo: Netflix

Although Seaburn Williams’ real-life girlfriend knew he was using her photos to catfish his fellow players, the person behind the photos used to portray Mercedeze was a stranger to Karyn Blanco. Harcourt told Vulture that, after having trouble finding someone she knew who would let her use their photos for the show, Karyn contacted production for help.


“We asked Karyn what sort of person she wanted to play as,” Harcourt said. “She provided us with a number of people and profiles that maybe she knew of and then we helped her approach them to, effectively, license their photos and also let them know the upside and downside of the fact that their photos are being used.”

After the show aired, Karyn told O, The Oprah Magazine in January 2020 that she was contacted by the woman whose photos she used to play Mercedeze. “She actually DM’d me and was like, ‘Hey!,’” Karyn said. “And when I saw the message I replied to her so quickly, like ‘Thank you so much. I really hope I did you justice.’ With that conversation we’ve actually become pretty cool.”

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The original cast that made it to the end was completely isolated for around 14 or 15 days during filming

They had contact with some crew members, though. Photo: Netflix

Harcourt told O that the filming of the show took place over the course of 15 days, though he told US Weekly magazine that same month that the original cast who made it to the end were cooped up for 14 days.


During this time, contestants were isolated without Wi-fi and could only communicate with the other contestants via the app. Each contestant had contact with a producer and camera operator, who helped provide them with some human interaction.

Speaking to Decider in January 2020, Harcourt explained producers were there to “explain the rules and also so the contestants had someone to talk to in-person”. He added, “It’s a game where you can’t see your opponents, not a test of solitary confinement”.

The chat function wasn’t always available for the cast to use

After all, producers need to sleep. Photo: Netflix

Although the series makes it look as if the contestants are utilising the Circle technology at all hours of the day and night, there were only certain windows of time during which they could use it to chat with the other cast members.

In the interview with Decider, Harcourt said, “We had to allow for people to sleep and have their rest, so chats were regulated … We couldn’t chance bugging people during their beauty sleep!”

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Contestants can speak to a therapist at any time

Producers had support systems set up for the cast. Photo: Netflix

Two weeks of total social isolation in an unfamiliar space can put a strain on anyone’s mental health – so the production team set up support systems for the cast.

In a January 2020 interview with Cosmopolitan, Shubham said there was an on-set therapist who contestants could speak to whenever they wanted to.

The show’s creator confirmed this in an interview with Decider, saying that contestants could call upon a therapist “whenever anyone felt stressed or just wanted someone to talk to who was outside the game”.

Joey was wearing sunglasses because the studio lights in his room were really bright

He wore shades even darker than these. Photo: Netflix

In a January 2020 interview with Vulture, Joey finally explained why he was seen so often wearing sunglasses in his apartment.

“People said, ‘Dude, why are you wearing your sunglasses inside, you tool?’ And I’m like, ‘Look, I get it, but there’s tons of lights in there and you can’t leave and your eyes start hurting! The sunglasses are staying on!’ I’ll take the ‘tool’ comment all day long as long as my eyes aren’t killing me,” he told the publication.

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Even though we didn’t meet them all, 20 to 25 contestants were chosen for season one of the show

The crew didn’t know who would be eliminated. Photo: Netflix

The showrunners didn’t know who would be eliminated when, said Harcourt, so that’s why production had 20 to 25 people “cleared to play the game”, giving them an ample pool of contestants to choose from when replacing an eliminated player.

Harcourt told Variety that there was no “sixth sense of who is going to replace who”, but generally men were replaced with men and women were replaced with women.

Players sometimes struggle to keep track of what day or time it is

Contestants sometimes lose track of the days inside The Circle. Photo: Netflix

Season-two contestant DeLeesa St. Agathe (who played Trevor) told TV Line in May 2021 that days can kind of blur together because they don’t have access to some basic technology.

“We didn’t have calendars or phones or anything,” she said. “In the apartments, there are lights everywhere, so it could be 2 o’clock in the morning, and they’re telling us it’s 9am, and we’re like, ‘OK!’ We don’t know. It was like walking in a dream that we didn’t control.”

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  • Compared to Big Brother, Catfish and the Black Mirror episode ‘Nosedive’, the hit show sees contestants live in isolation and only communicate through social networking
  • But IRL the show is filmed in the UK, not US, the communication platform is not actually voice-activated and the ‘Circle’ chat function is only really open for a few hours a day