Australian reality TV junkies are still getting used to life without Bachelor in Paradise (otherwise known as The Ciarran Stott Show), but luckily our next fix is around the corner.
Quick to fill the prime-time spot from August 12 is The Bachelor, and this season will be slightly different as contestants navigate the new obstacle of finding love in lockdown.
Former Survivor star and this year’s leading man, Locky Gilbert, opened up about how the “heartbreaking” pandemic-related production hiatus affected his quest for love.
“We made all these crazy connections, and then it was just like we were done,” Gilbert told Mamamia.
Despite two previous stints on Survivor, the adventure tour guide credits this season of The Bachelor as one of the most gruelling journeys he has endured.
As to whether he finds his everlasting love or leaves the show empty-handed a la Nick ‘Honeybadger’ Cummins, Gilbert confirmed that he is now in a relationship with his lucky lady.
“The finale was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’m not a big crier, I hadn’t cried in years, and I broke down big time,” he said.
“I am extremely happy with the outcome … My love grows deeper and deeper every day and I can’t wait for the rest of my life.”
But wait …
Gilbert’s ex-girlfriend has spoken out about the bachelor’s antics, saying he only signed up to the show to boost his star power.
Jordan Cayless – who some might know from Love Island – dated Gilbert for three years, but says he cheated on her in a lusty overseas trip.
Cayless told New Idea the couple were living in Bali when he went on an overnight trip to Singapore.
“I was at home working on our business, and I got a message from a girl on Instagram saying she was so sorry to do this, but she thought that I should know that she went home with Locky that night,” she said.
That was it for Cayless – despite Gilbert denying it all, she left Bali and returned home to Perth.
She further told the outlet that she wasn’t surprised he found himself as the Bachelor: “Dating 24 girls is like Locky’s dream come true … He just loved girls wanting him and I’m honestly nervous for who he ends up with.”
Regardless, Cayless’ Instagram shows a cheeky nod to her ex: A snap with current beau Gerard Majda (and Love Island co-star), dressed as The Bachelor at what appears to be a reality TV-themed costume party.
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Same same but different
In a Bachelor first, contestants were forced to ditch their elegant gowns and the glamour of the bachelor mansion, and continue getting to know their suitor over the phone and via Zoom.
The bad news came just seven episodes into the season, but cast and crew soldiered on and filmed two full episodes – complete with cocktail parties and rose ceremonies – from the comfort of their homes.
Luckily, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and Gilbert was quick to see the positives.
“That’s where the benefits did start showing because I got to talk to them, rather than 10 minutes on a sofa with 15 other girls watching,” Gilbert said.
“I got to speak on the phone or video chat for an hour, two hours, three hours, four hours and no one was there to interrupt, and that was quite good because that’s what a normal relationship is.
“I built such strong connections, and coming back and being able to be face to face and physical and stuff, it was great to see them but also hard because you feel so guilty about having such a strong connection with so many others.
“I think that’s what made the decision at the end so hard, because I got to know the girls so well.”
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There’s no denying I’ve had some incredible, heart-stopping experiences for both work and fun, but this takes the cake. Pack your bags Australia, I am beyond excited to be announced as this year’s Bachelor and cannot wait to share this epic romantic adventure with you all. @thebachelorau #thebachelorau
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Swapping stilettos for slippers …
Executive producer Hilary Innes said this season’s creative approach to dealing with setbacks due to COVID-19 made for “very fascinating viewing”.
No longer confined to the traditional format of the show, Ms Innes said viewers will get to see a more intimate, realistic portrayal of this year’s contestants.
“Suddenly you break out of The Bachelor world and go into people’s lives and seeing how they do things like making breakfast in their trackie dacks,” Ms Innes told Mediaweek.
“And it is a really interesting place to go and explore The Bachelor world from for a change.
“Everyone will relate to it because they are all going through it.”