House of hope
Renovation reality shows aren’t working lately. But host Johanna Griggs hopes will buck the trend, writes Shannon Molloy
Johanna Griggs took no pleasure in seeing a huge television rival suffer a convincing and embarrassing ratings defeat last month.
When Channel Nine’s big budget show Reno Rumble flopped on launch, seeing it relegated to a later timeslot after just days, it sent shivers down the House Rules host’s spine.
“I felt so sorry for them … it doesn’t matter that it’s a different network,” Griggs explains. “We’ve been in that same position where you get the ratings and every day your heart is in your mouth, wondering whether you’re going to get the call that it’s your last day.
“I remember having a conversation with my family when the first season of our show started … it didn’t set the world on fire (initially) … and I expected I’d get a call saying it was all over. It was a fear in the pit of my stomach.”
Now as House Rules prepares to kick off again, some pundits are wondering if the Channel Seven series is headed for a hammering.
In the lead up to tonight’s premiere, Griggs admits she’s nervous. Despite full confidence in the quality of the show they’ve produced, she says “you just never know”.
“When the first promos came out, I had my heart in my mouth,” she says.
“You’re never too cocky. You just hope it’s what the public decide to watch. There are hundreds of people who work on these shows and we absolutely believe in what we’ve made, but you just never know what’s going to work.”
After four seasons, she believes it has found a loyal audience and “proven itself” in a competitive TV landscape.
Still, tomorrow when first night viewer numbers come in, Griggs will either be pounding the treadmill or in the kitchen baking, “happy to be distracted”.
“Although one thing I’ve learnt in the last three seasons … it tends to be a slow burn. People seem to eventually grab onto it at some point.”
The concept this season is about crowded houses — dwellings that the families struggling to live inside them have completely outgrown.
Over the course of the competition, six teams travel the country and take turns completely overhauling each other’s homes.
The last one standing will have their mortgage paid out. But getting a renovated house out of the deal means everyone’s a winner, Griggs says.
It kicks off in Melbourne, where Fil and Joe, the oldest team and parents to two teenagers, hand over their keys with a s et of rules for the remaining teams.
They include hairdresser Claire and plumber Hagan, Victorian parents to two young girls, West Australian navy officer Rob and his wife Rose, a stay at home mum to three, and young homeowner Luke and his twin brother and housemate Cody from country Queensland.
Rounding out the pack are
“You’re never too cocky. You just hope it’s what the public decide to watch”
IT worker Drew and human resources specialist Nancy, who have two kids and live in Sydney, as well as landscaper and former footballer Brooke and his designer wife Michelle, parents to two from Adelaide.
Architect Joe Snell, a judge on the show, says the calibre of contestants is the best he’s seen.
“These guys really get off to a flying start and when I walked away from the first house, I was just amazed,” Snell says. “It sets a very high bar. This is our fourth season now and they seem to get better every time.”
The key to success is taking risks, listening and learning from mistakes, and having the tenacity to “hang in there”, he says.
JOHANNA GRIGGS ON AUDIENCE TASTES
HOUSE RULES, CHANNEL 7, WED & THUR, 7.30PM, SUNDAY, 7PM
House Rules host Johanna Griggs; (below) with this year’s teams.