tradie and television presenter
Gold Logie winner Scott Cam is still a down-to-earth tradie at heart.
Kate Moss was scouted in an airport and became one of the world’s most famous supermodels. You were scouted in a pub and became Australia’s most famous
tradie. Is that right? That’s right. I used to have a drink at the same pub on the way home after a hard day on the tools, and one day there was a TV producer there who said, “Do you want to do a screen test?” And I said, “Nah mate, that’s not my go.” But he got my number off the side of my ute, called me a few days later and said, “Come on.”
That was 18 years ago. Things pretty much took off from there. I’d been a carpenter for 30 years so it was a bit of an adjustment, but I just looked at it as a good hourly rate. How did your workmates feel about your move from building site to show business? Everyone was pretty excited. We came from an area where television was another universe. We didn’t make TV – we just watched it. Even though you’re so skilled Diy-wise, do you still struggle to put an IKEA bookshelf together like the rest of us? Look, I can get through the instructions. But it’s just as tedious for me as it is for you, and I always have a few screws left over at the end. As a rule, I avoid flat packs as much as possible. Did you knock together a personal trophy cabinet for all your Logies? I’ve got a couple on display because it’s just a fantastic thing – surreal, really – to go from having a beer at the pub to standing up and receiving a Gold Logie. But I did turn another one into a stubby opener, and made one [stubby opener] for Karl [Stefanovic], as well. You’re a TV star now, so how do you stay in touch with those workingclass roots? I was out the other day and walked past a group of bricklayers, good knock-around tradies, a bit rough around the edges. And yeah, we shook hands and had a photo. People banging on about their renovations at a dinner party is a modern-day scourge. You must attract it tenfold. People do usually have a few questions for me. It’s par for the course. It’s like being a doctor – someone always asks you to look at their sore arm. Speaking of which, you had a pretty nasty run-in with a bandsaw a few years back. Tell us what happened – bearing in mind that some readers may be eating their breakfast right now. I was mucking around in my workshop and, even though I’ve been at it for 35 years, you can’t forget about safety. I was supposed to be taking my daughter to a concert, but I nearly took my finger off – it got down to the bone – so my wife took her to the concert and I drove myself to the hospital, and waited three hours to have it sorted. We can probably skip the “biggest DIY disaster” question then. Those of us who grew up in the ’70s will
“It’s surreal – I went from having a beer at the pub to standing up and receiving a Gold Logie”
remember being shunted outside to play with a hammer, nails and a few offcuts. Do you think that today’s kids miss out because parents are too keyed up about safety to even consider such a thing? I think so. I’d say kids are having a little bit too much screen time, instead of heading out to the garage with mum or dad. I was in my dad’s workshop from eight years old, pushing timber through a table saw because he’d already taught me how to at age three. It’s up to parents, but I do think it’s good to have some DIY skills. Even if you end up as an accountant. Contestants on The Block have their fair share of troubles. Do you feel for them when things start to go awry? We have had about 100 contestants go through and I love them all like my children. The Block is such a hard thing to do – both physically and emotionally draining – and they will play up a bit as they are exhausted and emotional and being berated by judges. I have had a couple of blokes almost in tears by the first week, but everyone goes back to their normal selves when it’s over. Rapid-fire round: name the top three mistakes that newbie renovators make. Number one is underestimating how much it’s going to cost. Number two: getting overexcited and ripping out a wall that they don’t know how to put back together… so they end up with a hole for six months. Then the DIY accidents. You can do a lot of damage to yourself with a nine-inch grinder.
``I avoid flat packs as much as possible´