Every Burning Question About Netflix's The Circle, Answered by an Editor Who Visited the Set
All 12 episodes of The Circle are streaming on Netflix now
If you haven’t watched yet (you’re totally missing out), here’s the gist of it: The Circle saw a rotating cast of strangers sequestered in individual apartments in a building in England, forced to become friends while only interacting with one another using a social media platform in a kind of online popularity contest.
After filming wrapped, PEOPLE’s own Adam Carlson visited the show’s set in Manchester, England, in September. While there, and while interviewing the cast and those involved with the show, he learned all of its secrets — and even spent time in Seaburn Williams’ apartment (you may remember him better as “Rebecca”).
Below, PEOPLE answers all the questions you may have about reality television’s latest addictive series.
How far apart were the apartments in that building?
The apartments are all in one wing.
Could the contestants hear through the walls?
No one could hear through the walls.
How did the contestants get their food?
The contestants ordered groceries via the producers (or spoke aloud) and they was delivered. They put in food orders every day or so. They got what they asked for; there wasn’t anything set up specially by the producers.
How quickly did they have to leave after being blocked?
Right away. But they stuck around in Manchester to film the reunion.
How long did filming the full season take?
Filming lasted three weeks — there was only one day between the final “normal” part of the series, where the five finalists all met in person, and the reunion.
Did the contestants get to choose all the photos they put in the circle pool themselves?
Producers had no say in what was used.
Were they limited on what they could discuss?
How often did the cameras film them?
The cameras — which covered the apartment — filmed 24/7. There were also cameras in the bathroom, but contestants had to give permission to be filmed in there and could have the producers turn off the audio to give them privacy.
Did Ed or his mom apply separately or together?
Ed and his mom applied together.
Why did the contestants get dressed up when they weren’t going anywhere?
They all did their hair and makeup because it was an activity and they needed something to do. Plus, they were on TV.
Did the contestants arrive in Manchester together?
The contestants arrived to the U.K. at staggered times and stayed in different hotels. It was very secretive.
Were they monitored while using the gym and rooftop?
The use of the gym and rooftop was controlled by production to make sure only one contestant was moving at a time, and they were always chaperoned.
Could the contestants open windows inside?
It was very hot in the apartments. The air-conditioning interfered with the audio, and they couldn’t open the windows. They did have fans. But it was summer.
Were the contestants allowed to drink?
They were allowed to drink at certain times.
Could they chat with other players at any time?
There was downtime from the “game,” but contestants could chat whenever they wanted to as well, except late at night.
How much time was there between rankings the influencer discussion/blocking?
It immediately went from one to the other.
Was it just the contestants inside the apartment building?
The contestants were there by themselves in the apartment building while filming. In September, it was still empty and appeared like it was going to be renovated. It was later turned into an actual building with units for rent or sale.
Could they contact anyone besides each other?
They only also had contact with producers.
Did the contestants decide themselves when to end conversations?
Choosing when to end conversations was totally tactical. There were no late-night chats allowed, though, so the contestants could sleep without pressure.
Were they given their activities in the apartments?
They brought their activities with them. Shooby (aka Shubham Goel) even finished multiple books.
Did the players acting as catfish make that decision themselves?
The catfishing strategies did not have any interference from producers. The players went in with their gameplay choices. But the real people behind catfishes “Mercedeze” and “Adam” knew what was going to happen. They submitted pictures as models to be used on an upcoming TV series.
The Circle is streaming on Netflix now.