For what was the controversy – or some might call debacle – surrounding the finale of the last series of The Block, the Aussie thirst for the extreme renovation show doesn’t quite seem quenched.
Or so the Nine Network would have us believe.
Tuesday’s premiere of the 10th series of The Block promises all the hi-octane stress and emotion that we’ve come to expect and, dare I say it, much, much more.
As one producer of the show told The New Daily: “It’s become less about the renovation, more about the drama.”
I think we probably could have figured that one out for ourselves.
The move from Melbourne’s Albert Park (Fans v Favs) to Prahran (The Glasshouse) for the last two series was, according to many pundits, the reason for the lacklustre sales and near non-existent prize money for some contestants in the last series.
So now we return to the blue-blood of South Yarra, and some serious, and stable, property prices.
In a not-so-vieled attempt to shake things up, The Block Triple Threat has changed the, ahem, bricks and mortar, this time round.
Six new couples are pitted against each other for a week of renovations in an elimination property, before three triumphant teams progress to the actual block.
Meanwhile, three returning couples face off for the honour of the final spot in The Block – a fairly horrific, painted-red, brick building on Darling Street just off Toorak Road and in the heart of South Yarra.
Of the returning couples, freshest in our minds are the headline-making Melbourne duo from last series, heroine/villain Dee and her former AFL-playing husband Darren.
Dee’s run-in with judge Shaynna “bogan from Wantirna” Blaze will go down in Block history.
They have reportedly made amends but we know how it goes, high pressure, no sleep, tight deadlines, surely there’s another clash of the titans on the cards.
For the sake of quality reality TV tension and good ratings, here’s hoping the D’s get through.
Also returning are Melbourne’s Bec and George from The Block: Sky High, and from the same series Perth couple Matt and Kim, whose Jackson Pollock-inspired bedroom left the judges aghast, Neale Whitaker labelling it a “crime scene”.
Not really what anyone’s looking for.
As per Block tradition, the six new couples vying for the final three spots hail from across the country with fluctuating experience and skills in the reno game.
In a nutshell, we have siblings Luke and Ebony from Busselton in WA, an interior designer and carpenter.
From the Gold Coast, husband and wife Jess and Ayden, a sales manager and cabinet maker.
Partners Josh, a chippy, and Charlotte, a food stylist, from Sydney.
Tim and Anastasia, a general manager and operations manager, married from Adelaide.
Cousins Brooke and Aimee from Melbourne, Aimee is a Triple 0 call operator and Brooke is a mum.
And finally, Sydney engaged couple Jess and Mark, a property developer and structural landscaper.
For early bets I’d say Brooke and Aimee will add that unquantified and inexperienced X-factor, and Jess and Mark seem to be a couple with the right amount of ruthlessness and experience to take it up it up with the best of them.
But hey, what do I know?
My advice – don’t get too attached too early cause your favourite couple could quite easily get ousted before we’ve even begun.
As for the stakes riding on the success of this series, Nine better hope the ratings love continues, because production on the next series starts within months.
And while I love a reality TV barney as much as the next person, it remains to be seen if die-hard Block-heads would rather see an 11th-hour bathroom tile do-over or Dee-induced drama.
Game on people. The Block is back.
Michael Bennett was a journalist for five years at The West Australian where he covered TV and entertainment, before moving to Network Ten where he was a reporter for four years.