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