Johannesburg – The Women Tell All and After the Final Rose 90-minute finale of The Bachelor South Africa on M-Net (DStv 101) was only recorded days ago amidst massive secrecy but Channel24 was one of the exclusive guests who was invited to be a part of the extremely small and intimate studio audience to watch it all take place.
READ MORE: Here's the woman who stole Lee's heart
Here is what happened behind-the-scenes during this past Saturday's recording of the highly-emotional finale at Urban Brew Studios at a new set specially built for it, and some other fascinating things viewers won't know and didn't see:
1. 11 Chandeliers – and other set secrets
Eleven white chandeliers were used on set, hoisted up and hanging in a circular pattern as part of the backdrop of the set that Rapid Blue constructed inside the new Studio 3 specifically for just the Women Tell All special.
The set was over 100 m2 in size when broken down into pieces and it took a 16-tonne truck to move it into storage.
The "one-day only" set had over 300 roses, over 56 candles and it took 120 crew members over 3 days to put the show together. Five studio cameras and one ENG camera were used to capture everything viewers saw. The set pieces were built off-site over a couple of days and it then took over 50 hours, over 3 days, to assemble and set dress the studio.
2. Smallest in-studio audience yet
The studio audience for The Bachelor SA was the smallest yet for the finale of any M-Net reality show ever that incorporates one.
Besides the host Jason Greer, bachelor Lee Thompson and the women, the studio audience was extremely small, sitting in two rows just in front of the set walls. Numbering only 85 people in total, they comprised of family members, selected national media and other VIP's.
Why so small? "We wanted to keep the people privy to the outcome of the show to a bare minimum to ensure confidentiality. All the emotion would also get lost with a bigger audience," says M-Net.
3. Why the finale was recorded only days ago
M-Net says it did so "to maintain the confidentiality of the outcome". "The show has been extremely popular and we didn't want to spoil it for the viewers".
4. Lee in "solitary confinement"
Before the recording of the finale, where exactly was the bachelor Lee Thompson, and was he allowed to talk to the women or anybody? Well, Lee had his own private dressing room. He wasn't allowed to and had no contact with the ladies, and had very limited contact with the production crew - it was all kept for the recording.
5. Could the women talk?
Before the studio recording of the finale, were the women kept separate from each other at the back or all together, and if they were together at the studio, were they allowed to interact and talk to each other before walking on to the set? We're not too clear on this one.
"After the ladies leave the mansion, they are not allowed to be in contact with each other," is all that M-Net said when asked this.
6. Paper faces for places
Like for American awards shows, the golden chairs earmarked for the women had printed paper photos of themselves attached to their chairs to show who sits where. They had to take these off before they sat down but then some at least wanted to keep it (probably as a keepsake). A floor manager came around and collected it and asked them to hand it over.
7. How and why who sat where
The placing of the women on the set was not random. "Seating was primarily planned from a combination of requirements involving dress styles, colours, content relevance and lighting requirements," says the show.
8. The missing woman
Contractually, all of the women have to be a part of the Women Tell All. "However, sometimes things are not within our control," says M-Net. "For example, Chanieel did not attend The Women Tell All".
9. Could the women keep their dresses?
The dresses that the women picked out and wore for Thursday night's finale are all supplied by Just Tonight Josephine. The ladies were not allowed to keep the dresses.
10. Extremely secretive
Invited guests had to sign multiple non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) promising not to talk or reveal anything about the recording or what they get to see during this past Saturday's recording.
11. Cellphones confiscated
All invited guests who set foot inside the studio and the after-party lounge area at Urban Brew Studios had their cellphones taken away, placed inside transparent ziplock bags, and placed inside carton boxes and given a paper number.
The guests – including press – could only get their phone back once they physically left the building. Absolutely no photos or mobile phone activity of any kind was possible.
"The show has been extremely popular, so it was important for us to maintain the confidentiality," says M-Net. "Taking away the audience's phones was to ensure that there were no leaks before the episode airs as we didn't want to spoil it for the viewers."
12. "You light me up like New York lights"
Singer Connell Cruise, winner of Dancing with the Stars on M-Net last year, made a surprise guest-appearance performing his song All Day, the theme song of The Bachelor SA in studio on a piano.
Big sound problems however got in the way. While viewers see about two minutes of him singing on screen, getting it right took multiple takes and do-overs with Connell who struggled to hear himself during initial takes.
13. Perfect piano pitch
The beautiful piano was a rental. "It took a large team of people to bring it through to the studio in segments and once the exact positioning for lighting and camera angles was determined, it was put together," says the show. "A piano tuner then came through and tuned the piano for performance and recording. The piano could not be moved after this point".
14. Psychologist on hand
M-Net can't say whether any of them made use of the person because it's confidential but yes, there was a psychologist on set for all of the women before, during, and after the recording of the show. M-Net also says "contestants of all of M-Net's reality shows have access to a psychologist".
Also spotted behind one of the studio walls? A medical stretcher and gurney, complete with oxygen tank and emergency medical kit. Just for in case - you know - one of the women fainted or some medical emergency arose.
15. No press briefing afterwards
For the first time in a long time, M-Net deliberately held no press conference afterwards as is customary for the end of its reality shows with the media who couldn't collectively ask questions of M-Net, Lee or the women.
"Unlike M-Net's other local reality shows, this show follows a very personal journey, which is that of finding love," says M-Net after being asked about the change this time.
"The final two and Lee both have been through an emotional rollercoaster. We wanted to respect their feelings at the moment and give them some space. As it was not a live show but a recording under embargo there also was no urgency for the media to have their questions answered."
16. What happens to the ring that Lee gave to Gina?
The ring will be given back to Jack Friedman, the jeweller.
17. Jason forever
The very last person to leave and to step off the completely empty set at the end of the episode? Host Jason Greer.