Two contestants set to appear on the next season of My Kitchen Rules were filmed being sexually intimate without their knowledge, and the footage was then allegedly shared among Channel Seven staff.
In the upcoming season of the cooking show, contestants are split into two teams, one lead by chef Manu Feildel and the other by chef Colin Fassnidge. Each team lives together in a separate house.
The footage, taken in mid-2019, shows a male contestant consensually digitally penetrating a female contestant on a couch in one of the houses.
"I had no idea [the cameraman] was there until we spotted him," one of the contestants captured in the footage told BuzzFeed News. "We caught him and then he swore he deleted the footage and obviously didn’t."
The contestant said that according to their contract, everywhere in the house but the bedroom was a "potential" location for filming, but that it was "cheeky" of the cameraman to film them on a couch at around 5am.
"It destroyed me for months afterwards," the contestant said. "Since when has something like this been any sort of priority or even on the topic [for a cooking show]?"
The other contestant who was filmed declined to be interviewed for this story.
Seven did not answer questions about how many employees had access to the footage or whether contestants knew camera operators would be filming in the house throughout the night.
In a statement, a Seven spokesperson told BuzzFeed News: "My Kitchen Rules: The Rivals is a family friendly cooking show broadcast in prime time. All filming was done in accordance with contestant contracts."
A source involved in producing the show said that in August rumours about the existence of the footage began circulating around Channel Seven's post-production studios in Eveleigh, Sydney.
"It was mainly just the men laughing and discussing the footage," the source told BuzzFeed News. "It was then revealed that someone had apparently deleted the footage from the system and everyone was really upset because people wanted to watch it."
But in September the source alleges they heard cheers in the office and people laughing — the footage had been found. A colleague showed them the video.
"You could clearly see one contestant penetrate the other with his fingers," the source said. "It was very clearly filmed without the knowledge or consent of either parties which was made clear by the camera angle and poor quality of film."
It was obvious, they said, that the footage was not taken by a stationary "house camera".
"A cameraman had sneakily snuck down stairs, hidden behind the railing and filmed them from above," they said. "You can see the two bodies lying on the couch... in between two staircase poles."
The source said there was then a "discussion surrounding the legality of the footage" at the studio where a producer concluded the contestants had signed a contract and the network could therefore "do whatever we want".
"They were cheering on [the male contestant] and it was acknowledged it was gross and invasive footage but it was there for their gratification," the source said.