The 13th series of The Block begins on Channel 9 on Sunday night, posing the question as to whether the enduring reality renovation series has finally run out of puff.
Even host Scott Cam told The New Daily at the series launch in Melbourne the producers and crew take it “one Block at a time”.
The show has come a long way since it started with Jamie Durie wandering along the beach in Sydney’s Bondi introducing a comparatively simple series where four couples took on renovating four apartments in a pretty standard apartment block.
But can it keep delivering?
Scotty pointed out that the major change in the series has been the emergence of a “well-oiled machine” of tradies and producers who work with the Blockheads to tackle the massive renovation for this new series.
Five 1920s weatherboard houses – marked for demolition – have been rescued, sawn in half, transported and rebuilt side-by-side on a block in a fairly ordinary street in the Melbourne suburb of Elsternwick.
“We would never have taken this on 10 years ago, five five-bedroomed homes with three car garages on a block of land in 12 weeks. It’s not impossible for us anymore,” Cam said.
By now, we all are now pretty familiar with the format and the casting. This year is no exception.
There are the Scrappers who are Experts, the Reno Rookies, the Beautiful Young Things, the Doing It Toughs and the Country Boys.
Early leaders in the “we hope they do well” stakes are Wombat and Stick – mates since childhood – from rural New South Wales.
Wombat (he looks a bit like one) – with his flowing red beard, overalls and bush hat – lives in a shipping container. He’s hoping The Block will give him the skills to convert that into a home.
Stick (he was skinny as a kid) pays tribute to the team behind them.
“It’s a team who do it but we’re just the ones at the front. I wish we could give them a bit more recognition for what they do,” he told The New Daily.
Are they ready for TV fame? Not really.
“Wombat was out buying a pie this morning and someone said, ‘I’ve only seen one ad and I know it’s you,’ and he went, ‘Oooooh’.”
The other stars of this series are the vintage houses. The Blockheads must keep the character and features in their build.
Choosing houses for this series is a smart move. There’s more take-home information for would-be renovators who don’t want to live in cold, modern apartments.
Channel 9’s got a tough task with this series, having rewritten the reality show bible with Australian Ninja Warrior where pace and energy replaced the long, drawn-out pauses and manufactured moments that have been the mainstays of shows like The Block.
But producers quickly rip into the action in first episode – renovating a bedroom in 48 hours and allowing the winner to choose the house they renovate.
Sure, it takes two episodes to get to see who won – but the pacing is energetic and the show whizzes by.
Scott Cam refused to name his favourite Block building, saying, “I love them all equally, like my children.”
But, in future, he might have to admit this project is special. A sneak peek reveals well-thought out, comfortable homes, which could bust the selling price records and perhaps ratings.
“Families love it. Mums and Dads are out there doing what we do every weekend. When you own a house you have just completed a reno, about to do a reno or planning one. Everybody wants to improve something.”
Seems there’s plenty of life in the old girl yet.