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Big Brother: Fury as Thomas Markle Jr is allowed into Australia during Covid

Channel Seven has defended its decision to bring Thomas Markle Jr to Australia for the new season of Big Brother VIP, saying the estranged half-brother of Meghan Markle didn’t take a hotel quarantine spot from an Australian stranded overseas.

The network issued a statement amid growing outrage that ‘celebrities’ like Markle and Caitlyn Jenner were being granted entry into the country while thousands of Aussies are unable to get a flight home due to the cap on international arrivals.

After news of Markle’s arrival broke, social media was abuzz with criticism of the decision, with one furious Aussie writing: ‘STOP BRINGING THESE PEOPLE INTO THIS COUNTRY!!! I don’t care whose brother he is… bring home Australian citizens.’

Statement: Channel Seven has defended its decision to bring Thomas Markle Jr (pictured) to Australia for the new season of Big Brother VIP, saying the estranged half-brother of Meghan Markle didn’t take a hotel quarantine spot from an Australian stranded overseas 

Another added: ‘What a friggin’ rort. Stop allowing foreigners to come to Australia when Aussies can’t get home. “Reality” TV shows are not “essential”. VIP! Pfft. Makes me so mad.’

For many people, news of Markle and Jenner’s arrival felt like a personal insult as they’re separated from their families due to Covid border closures.

‘How is he allowed here? When my family can’t come home or I go overseas to them, and we have thousands of Aussies still waiting to return here, stranded? How is it happening?’ one wrote.

A similar comment read: ‘Seriously, people here can’t even see their own damn families in the same state, but you can fly all these flogs in for a stupid TV show?

‘And people who are Australian citizens and want to visit sick family overseas have no guarantee they will be allowed to come home, not to mention all those still stranded… great priorities.’  

Clarification: The network issued a statement amid growing outrage that 'celebrities' like Markle and Caitlyn Jenner were being granted entry into the country while thousands of Aussies are unable to get a flight home due to the cap on international arrivals

Clarification: The network issued a statement amid growing outrage that ‘celebrities’ like Markle and Caitlyn Jenner were being granted entry into the country while thousands of Aussies are unable to get a flight home due to the cap on international arrivals

Fury: After news of Markle's arrival broke, social media was abuzz with criticism of the decision, with one furious Aussie writing: 'STOP BRINGING THESE PEOPLE INTO THIS COUNTRY!!! I don't care whose brother he is... bring home Australian citizens'

Fury: After news of Markle’s arrival broke, social media was abuzz with criticism of the decision, with one furious Aussie writing: ‘STOP BRINGING THESE PEOPLE INTO THIS COUNTRY!!! I don’t care whose brother he is… bring home Australian citizens’

While they wouldn’t comment on casting decisions, a Seven spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia that foreigners were being allowed into Australia ‘on arrangements that exist outside of the flight cap on international arrivals’.

In other words, neither Markle Jr, 55, nor Jenner, 71, had taken a hotel quarantine spot from an Australian stranded overseas waiting to come home. 

‘We are not commenting on speculation about the cast of Big Brother VIP. All will be revealed soon and Big Brother is looking forward to meeting the new collection of housemates,’ said a network representative.

‘Much of the speculation has been wrong, but it’s important to note that Seven ensures the arrival of international artists in Australia does not impact or impede on Australians returning home from overseas.

‘Any international artists associated with Seven are on arrangements that exist outside of the flight cap on international arrivals and have been granted exemptions by the government to come here. All our artists also undertake quarantine measures in line with government legislation.

‘Much like the arrival of world-class international actors bolstering Australia’s film industry at present, these artists are contributing to the making of leading TV productions, creating jobs for many people at a difficult time for the creative and production sectors.’

Controversial: Markle Jr's arrival in the country on Thursday came just days after another Big Brother contestant, Katie Hopkins, was deported for threatening to break quarantine rules

Controversial: Markle Jr’s arrival in the country on Thursday came just days after another Big Brother contestant, Katie Hopkins, was deported for threatening to break quarantine rules

It comes after Markle Jr, from Oregon, was spotted by staff at Sydney Airport on Thursday before being whisked into hotel quarantine, where he will stay for 14 days.

His arrival in the country came just days after another Big Brother contestant, Katie Hopkins, was deported for threatening to break quarantine rules.

It’s unclear if Markle Jr, the older paternal half-brother of the Duchess of Sussex, is replacing far-right commentator Hopkins, who was sent back to the UK on Monday. 

Hopkins, 46, had sparked a national outcry when she boasted on Instagram of trying to violate quarantine rules by opening her door naked and maskless to hotel staff.

The reality star, known for her extreme views on immigration and Covid-19, had her visa revoked on Sunday and was put on a flight back to Britain the following morning.

Other notable contestants taking part in Big Brother VIP include Jenner, who flew in from LA last week and is in hotel quarantine.

Ignorant: Hopkins was sent back to the UK on Monday after she boasted on Instagram of trying to violate quarantine rules by opening her door naked and maskless to hotel staff

Ignorant: Hopkins was sent back to the UK on Monday after she boasted on Instagram of trying to violate quarantine rules by opening her door naked and maskless to hotel staff

Jenner, who is also running for Governor of California, is rumoured to be getting $500,000 for her appearance on the show.

Markle Jr’s salary is unknown.

Meanwhile, Markle Jr would have likely obtained a ‘critical skills’ visa in order to be allowed entry into Australia during the coronavirus pandemic.

High-profile stars: Other notable contestants taking part in Big Brother VIP include Caitlyn Jenner (pictured in February 2020), who flew in from LA last week and is in hotel quarantine

High-profile stars: Other notable contestants taking part in Big Brother VIP include Caitlyn Jenner (pictured in February 2020), who flew in from LA last week and is in hotel quarantine

This visa is granted when there is a demonstrable economic benefit by allowing the person into the country.

Filming of Big Brother VIP is set to begin at a purpose-built complex at Sydney Olympic Park in the coming months.

The program will air on Channel Seven later this year. 

The set is currently being constructed despite the ban on building works in Sydney, after the producers were granted special permission.

Tosser: Jenner was pictured throwing a cigarette off the balcony of her hotel quarantine suite in Sydney on Thursday, showing a complete disregard for littering laws

Markle Jr. does not have a relationship with his famous younger sister, who is married to Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex.

He was not invited to the Sussexes’ wedding in May 2018, and at the time hadn’t seen the Suits actress for about seven years. 

The window fitter has criticised his half-sister in the press, describing her as a ‘phony’ and a ‘jaded, shallow, conceited woman’.

He has also blasted Meghan, 39, for cutting off their father, Thomas Markle Sr, after he was caught collaborating with U.S. paparazzi.

Estranged: Markle Jr. doesn't have a relationship with his famous younger sister Meghan (left), who is married to Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (right). He was not invited to the Sussexes' wedding in May 2018, and at the time hadn't seen the Suits actress for about seven years

Estranged: Markle Jr. doesn’t have a relationship with his famous younger sister Meghan (left), who is married to Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (right). He was not invited to the Sussexes’ wedding in May 2018, and at the time hadn’t seen the Suits actress for about seven years

Blasted: The window fitter has criticised his half-sister in the press, describing her as a 'phony' and a 'jaded, shallow, conceited woman'. Meghan is pictured in 2019

Blasted: The window fitter has criticised his half-sister in the press, describing her as a ‘phony’ and a ‘jaded, shallow, conceited woman’. Meghan is pictured in 2019


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