House of hope

Ren­o­va­tion re­al­ity shows aren’t work­ing lately. But host Jo­hanna Griggs hopes will buck the trend, writes Shan­non Mol­loy

Herald Sun - Switched On - - COVER STORY -

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.



House Rules host Jo­hanna Griggs; (be­low) with this year’s teams.

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