It’s a very different Big Brother experience for Sonia now – and not just because she’s returned to her old stomping ground at Seven.
Last series, she was pregnant with her daughter, Maggie, who is now 5.
“My ankles aren’t swollen the whole way through it, which is good,” she says, laughing.
This time, there will be 20 housemates – ranging in age from 19 to 62 – who go into the house in Sydney’s Manly, not Dreamworld on the Gold Coast.
“They’re not your typical reality TV contestants,” Sonia says. “They’re really a cross-section of everyday people and that’s what I think will be most relatable and most appealing about the show.”
And it wouldn’t be Big Brother without housemates who cause friction with others.
“You always get your alpha types and I think they’ll definitely stir the pot,” Sonia says. “It’s just the nature of human interaction. There are a few fireworks.”
There will definitely be drama with the way nominations work this year. Each episode, it’s the housemates themselves who have the power to evict someone.
As Sonia explains, someone will have the power to nominate three housemates.
And, while one goes home, there will be two others still in the house. If you’re the one nominating, you might be safe for now, but you may end up with a big target on your back.
It could well be a case of ‘come for me and I’ll be coming for you’.
“Things get a little bit awkward and heated,” she teases.
It’s this strategic element of the show, which has people comparing the revamped version to Network Ten’s hit Australian Survivor.
The housemates will have to complete house tasks that will see them rewarded with shopping money, dinner parties and the chance to receive messages from their loved ones back outside in the real world.
Ultimately, it will come down to a live finale where Australia will get to vote which one of three housemates will win $250,000.
“They’ll either vote for whoever has played a brilliant strategic game or they may vote with their heart and go with the person they love the most,” Sonia says.
Importantly, the show is aimed squarely at families this time around. There is no spa, no sauna, no up-late episodes and – thank goodness – no dancing doonas.
But there is, Sonia reveals, some romance.
“I can’t say too much about it, but you will see that unfold,” she says. “It’s a beautiful romance. It’s not salacious.
“That kind of love affair in the house I’m happy to see,” she said.
Over the years it was on, Big Brother introduced us to people who became household names – from Sara-Marie Fedele in Season 1 in 2001 and Reggie Bird in Season 3 in 2003 to Tim Dormer, the blond-haired housemate who took out the 10th series in 2013.
Who should we be watching this year?
Sonia is loath to single out people, but she did make mention of a contestant named Angela, who originally hails from Kenya and now lives in Perth.
“She surprised me,” Sonia says. “Keep an eye on Angela.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be Big Brother without the big man himself and it’s still very much his show.
“He is witty, he is mischievous and he runs those housemates around the paddock,” Sonia says.
“He really has some fun with them.”
For more, pick up the latest issue of New Idea. Out now!