Why Jamie jumped

Nine closed the door on Jamie’s Out­door Room, but he’s de­lighted that Seven came a-knock­ing, writes Dar­ren Devlyn

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide -

AYEAR af­ter his con­tro­ver­sial exit from Chan­nel 9, you’re about to see why Jamie Durie jumped ship to Seven.

Nine had axed the land­scape de­signer and hor­ti­cul­tur­ist’s Back­yard Blitz be­cause of high pro­duc­tion costs, but the then-net­work chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Ed­die McGuire worked over­time try­ing to keep Durie at the net­work.

Some at Nine say Durie quit be­cause the net­work baulked at his con­trac­tual de­mands ( al­legedly $2 mil­lion), but Durie re­mains adamant his move was never about fat­ten­ing his per­sonal bank ac­count.

Seven, he says, won him over be­cause it promised to fund his ‘‘pas­sion project’’ — The Out­door Room.

‘‘It’s an idea I came up with years ago and I’ve been pitch­ing it (to net­works) ever since,’’ Durie says.

‘‘It was tough to get this up. I’m get­ting paid less now than I was of­fered then (at Nine). It was a very tough de­ci­sion I made.

‘‘I was just looking for the right place for this show and a bit of a fresh start.’’

Seven’s faith in Durie and The Out­door Room is il­lus­trated by the fact the net­work is plac­ing it in the tough 6.30pm Sun­day times­lot. The show will pre­cede Seven’s other great Sun­day rat­ings hope, Danc­ing with the Stars, which has been moved from its tra­di­tional Tues­day slot.

Durie’s agenda with the new show is to make the back­yard dreams of everyday peo­ple come true and at the same time of­fer ed­u­ca­tion about plants and land­scap­ing and how we can best pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment.

Durie and his pro­duc­tion crew visit a nom­i­nated house, then travel the world to find con­cepts that can be brought back and in­cor­po­rated into the house’s gar­den. The show also fea­tures cook­ing seg­ments in­spired by in­ter­na­tional cul­tures.

The first sea­son of the show took Durie and his crew to lo­ca­tions as di­verse as Italy, Eng­land, Africa, Egypt, Ja­pan and In­dia.

Durie be­lieves The Out­door Room is more hon­est than Back­yard Blitz be­cause gar­dens are not trans­formed in a cou­ple of days us­ing a gang of off-cam­era work­ers.

He prom­ises The Out­door Room of­fers an ac­cu­rate de­pic­tion of who is do­ing the land­scap­ing, how long it takes to do it and how much ef­fort is in­volved in achiev­ing the end re­sult.

‘‘We show all the labour on­cam­era,’’ he says.

‘‘I want to be up­front and hon­est about this. Th­ese are the best makeover gar­dens I’ve ever cre­ated.

‘‘The show trav­els to a dif­fer­ent coun­try ev­ery week, find­ing new ideas. There’s the food el­e­ment — celebrity chefs have never been more prom­i­nent.

‘‘The show looks at sci­ence — why we use the plants and ma­te­ri­als we use. With the weather-re­sis­tant ma­te­ri­als now avail­able it’s easy to trans­form your back yard or court­yard into a liv­ing space with all the style and crea­ture com­forts of in­side your house — I call it an out­door room.

‘‘Then there’s the hu­man el­e­ment. The beauty of this show is that you don’t have to be sick to get a gar­den.’’

Durie has long been one of Aus­tralia’s most pop­u­lar and recog­nis­able TV pre­sen­ters. This year, how­ever, is prov­ing to be the most suc­cess­ful he’s had — on and off­screen.

He’s guid­ing his land­scap­ing busi­ness on ma­jor projects in Sin­ga­pore, Dubai, Los An­ge­les and New York and he’s been to Lon­don to com­pete at the Chelsea Flower Show, where his Aus­tralian na­tive gar­den won a gold medal.

Durie, 38, has trained with for­mer US Vice-Pres­i­dent Al Gore to be­come a cli­mate-change am­bas­sador, has ap­peared on Oprah Win­frey’s chat show and has a host­ing job on the US-pro­duced se­ries The Victory Gar­den.

He seems un­able to put a foot wrong in his ca­reer, but he’s quick to re­mind you he’s done his share of hard yards.

Af­ter his de­ci­sion to quit danc­ing at the age of 26 to fo­cus on hor­ti­cul­ture, he says there were times his spir­its were low and he strug­gled fi­nan­cially.

‘‘I’ve made a lot of mis­takes . . . every­one makes them,’’ he says.

‘‘There are no guar­an­tees in life, but I be­lieve if you fol­low your pas­sion, the pen­sion will fol­low.’’

One of Durie’s most press­ing chal­lenges is to en­sure he main­tains equi­lib­rium in his pri­vate and pro­fes­sional lives.

He’s had a string of high-pro­file women in his life through the years and presently has a part­ner whose name he won’t di­vulge.

The con­stant emo­tional touch­stone in his life has been his daugh­ter, Tay­lor.

Tay­lor, 13, was born when Durie was in his 20s and liv­ing in Las Ve­gas as part of the Man­power dance troupe. Durie had fallen in love with Tay­lor’s mother, but the ro­mance didn’t last.

TAY­LOR is based in the US, but has lately been spending plenty of time with her fa­ther. ‘‘It’s been great,’’ he says. ‘‘She has spent the past few weeks with me and has been on some of the (work) pro­duc­tions with me.

‘‘In the past I’ve made a few per­sonal sac­ri­fices, but that’s start­ing to turn around for me now.

‘‘I’m in a re­la­tion­ship right now and I’m quite happy with the way things are. Tay­lor knows I’d def­i­nitely love to have more kids. That’s on my agenda.’’

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