Kyle Sandilands can’t believe the stories about him, writes Siobhan Duck
AHEART attack, secret plastic surgery, a suicide attempt and even a plain old case of cold feet — when Kyle Sandilands was struck down by a respiratory virus and too sick to host two Big Brother eviction shows, the rumour mill went into overdrive.
And it didn’t take long for his many critics to start calling for him to be axed from the show in favour of the replacement Sandilands had hand-picked — Mike Goldman.
They argued Goldman, who has been the voice of BB since it began and the host of Friday Night Live for four years, was more qualified to host BB, had more chemistry with co-host Jackie O and was generally more likable than the acerbic Sandilands.
Even O wasn’t spared the fallout. She reportedly had a panic attack at the negative publicity and refused to do the duo’s radio show without Sandilands, forcing producers to resort to playing a ‘‘by request’’ package.
Sandilands says most of what has been written about his absence has been completely false.
‘‘I have seen stories saying in the past few weeks the ratings have gone up. Well, that’s bulls---, I know they’re actually down,’’ he says.
‘‘A lot of the ratings reports are bogus. I do not understand how if 1.1 million watch Big Brother it’s somehow the worst show on TV, but when 1.3 million watch So You Think You Can Dance it’s called a phenomenon that’s never been seen before.
‘‘How can 200,000 make that much of a difference?’’
Sandilands’ return to BB on June 15 actually saw the viewing figures climb from 813,000 to 1.01 million.
He admits it had been annoying to have to reassure his elderly grandmother that newspaper reports about his health had been wrong.
‘‘There were rumours I had a heart attack, that I had plastic surgery and that I had attempted suicide,’’ he says.
‘‘It’s not really a concern for me but it’s annoying for my family because they don’t know that it’s not true.’’
Regularly described as one of television and radio’s most hated men, Sandilands is now accustomed to criticism.
He once agonised over every negative blog about himself, but has finally learned to ignore his critics.
Now, as host of BB, he acknowledges he has knowingly put himself squarely in the firing line for even more scathing press.
‘‘When I started Big Brother, the producers warned me that for some Big Brother, PG Channel 10, weekdays, 7pm Inside the house Duration: 30 minutes strange reason Gretel (Killeen) was always criticised,’’ he says.
‘‘It didn’t matter what she did she would get crap for what she wore, how she looked or what she said.
‘‘We seem to have caught the same disease.
‘‘When Gretel was doing it people said ‘She’s terrible, get someone else’. Then we have a go and they say, ‘Who are these two losers? Bring back Gretel’.’’
Sandilands says he knew that BB would be a huge undertaking, with its success or failure ultimately resting on his shoulders.
He faced the same daunting task when he stepped into the breach of Australian Idol when Ian ‘‘Dicko’’ Dickson left the judging panel.
Critics predicted Idol’s run was over then, and four years later it is poised to start yet another season.
Despite the doomsday predictions, Sandilands says he is convinced Ten remains committed to BB and retaining him and O as its hosts next year.
‘‘From the discussions we’re having now it seems to be coming back next year,’’ he says. ‘‘But I don’t think they would say halfway through that this was going to be the last one. That would be a bit deflating for everyone working on it.’’
Sandilands says he isn’t bothered by calls for Goldman to replace him, saying it is predictable there would be ‘‘Mike-lovers’’ out there.
‘‘I just know it’s impossible for Channel 10 to do it (get rid of him) — it would cost them too much cash to get out of my contract,’’ he says.
‘‘But look, if they decide to do it, fair enough, I’ll eat humble pie and cry all the way to the bank with my big cheque.’’
Though he has copped a lot of flak from the media and viewers for his work on BB, Sandilands says he does not regret signing on with the show.
He has helped select a more diverse range of housemates, vetted boring video packages and refused to do the usual weekly round of interviews with the housemates’ loved ones.
Initially outspoken on the need for an updated adults-only component of BB this year, Sandilands wasn’t willing to host it.
He says the new adult show, Big Mouth, hosted by Tony Squires and Rebecca Wilson, has not been risque enough. It is being moved from 9.30pm to 10pm.
But overall, Sandilands is happy with how BB has fared this year.
‘‘I think it’s been good, I think it’s a better show than it has been before,’’ he says.
‘‘People can say that it’s not doing well. But it’s only down 4 per cent — that’s not that big a deal.’’
Big Brother bother:
Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O. Most of the stories about his absence from Big Brother
are false, he says.