After a six-year hiatus, the third season of Big Brother Mzansi debuted on Sunday night with 18 new contestants.

The two-hour premiere that saw the housemates being unveiled, also marked the 20th anniversary since the international format was first staged in Africa.

Called Big Brother Africa, the international phenomenon was first televised on May 2003, with Mark Pilgrim as host.

The new season is being hosted by The River actor Lawrence Maleka.

The housemates are Adindu Asuzu, Gashwan Brandon Mthombeni, Gugu Refiloe Bonga, Keamogetswe Motlhale, Libo Njomba, Luthando Mthembu, Michelle Dimpho Mvundla, Mvelo Ntuli and Naledi Mogadime.

Norman Nhlapo, Rethabile Potsane (aka Dinkybliss), Thando Mcopela, Thato Mokoena, Themba Karabo Mabaso, Thobeka Mtshali, Tulani Madala, Ukho Samela and Yolanda Glover complete the contestants.

“Congratulations to the new housemates on an experience like no other, and one that will undoubtedly change many of their lives. We wish them well in the house,” said Shirley Adonisi, director of local entertainment channels at M-Net.

“We’re excited to have the show back on air as it’s something viewers have been anticipating, and we have no doubt that they will not be disappointed.

“To catch all the drama, twists, Saturday night parties and eviction show on Big Brother Mzansi, sign up or upgrade to DStv Compact.”

The new season will air live 24/7 on DStv Channel 198 with the daily highlights show on Mzansi Magic Tuesdays to Fridays starting on January 25 at 10.30pm.

Sunday eviction shows begin on January 30 at 6pm and will be broadcast on Mzansi Magic.

The new season arrives in the wake of another popular reality show on the channel undergoing a huge revamp.

Season 18 of Idols SA will see Randall Abrahams and Unathi Nkayi exiting as judges, after the channel opted not to renew their contracts.

Abrahams was the longest-running judge on the popular show for a record 17 seasons, while Nkayi was part of the panel for 10 seasons.

“We are taking a fresh approach to the judging panel to retain audiences and stay competitive in the Sunday night time slot,” said Adonisi.

“Mzansi Magic would like to thank both Randall and Unathi for their contribution to discovering new talent and launching the careers of so many. We salute these great icons of SA entertainment and thank them both for a great innings on Idols.

“Randall and Unathi have demonstrated high levels of professionalism and made an impact on the SA entertainment scene that will continue to be felt for some time to come. We wish them well in their endeavours.”

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