It’s still anyone’s competition leading into tonight’s Block fi nale, writes COLIN VICKERY
EXPERIENCE counts for nothing on The Block. Just ask Chantelle Ford and Steve O’Donnell who pocketed a massive $ 736,000 when they won Fans v Faves earlier this year.
Ford, a milliner, and O’Donnell, a chimney sweep, were rank amateurs when they entered the Channel Nine renovation show.
That didn’t stop them beating more fancied contestants including Brad Cranfield and Dale Vine as well as twin sisters Alisa and Lysandra Fraser come auction night.
It is that unpredictability that has nerves jangling among the fi ve teams competing on The
Block: Glasshouse – Michael and Carlene ( Apartment 1), Chris and Jenna ( 2), Maxine and Karstan ( 3), Shannon and Simon ( 4), and Darren and Deanne ( 5).
Tonight’s winner is anyone’s guess. Neale Whitaker has been a judge on seven seasons of The
Block and even he can’t work out which team will take home the $ 100,000 fi rst prize – on top of any profi t the couples make over reserve.
“More than any previous series, The Block: Glasshouse will be open slather come auction day,” Whitaker says. “These are fi ve very individual apartments which all off er unique advantages in terms of scale, position and planning.
“Michael and Carlene have probably ticked the most boxes in terms of broad appeal.
“They’ve created a family home which represents innercity living at its best.
“And if you look beyond all the controversy, Deanne and Darren have created an apartment that is highly desirable and beautifully consistent.
“But The Block has a history of rank outsiders performing well on auction day so it’s anyone’s race.”
Deanne, who has given plenty of lip to hubby Darren, her fellow contestants and even judge Shaynna Blaze during The Block:
Glasshouse, admits that she has butterfl ies about auction night.
The pair have more riding on the result than most. Darren is using The Block as a springboard to a post- AFL building career. Deanne wants to be an interior design consultant.
“We’re a combination of excited and nervous but it feels like there’s a lot of interest from buyers,” Deanne says. “Our master bedroom is like a retreat – so spacious compared to some of the other apartments … The whole apartment has a really consistent feel throughout and it’s a really great entertainers’ home.”
Shannon and Simon have only just recovered from the strain of competing on The Block:
Glasshouse. The brothers each lost 7kg through the course of the show. They are hoping all that eff ort will pay off tonight.
“We think we’ve got the best layout of all the apartments,” Shannon says. “We never skimped or cut corners.”
Chris and Jenna were this season’s newbies – a cabinet maker and a video editor. Their lack of experience showed early with some poor scores but the fi nal apartment is a triumph.
“Our main bathroom got a perfect 30 out of 30 plus we’re the only ones with a rooftop terrace,” Jenna says. “The copper wall in the master bedroom is proving a real selling point.”
Max and Karstan went for open- plan living, high ceilings and glossy surfaces. “We wanted to create a timeless apartment where the buyer could visualise living for the next fi ve or 10 years,” Karstan says.
Michael and Carlene’s apartment overlooks busy High St but, given Whittaker’s praise, there are compensations. “We love our apartment’s warm, sophisticated feel,” Michael says. “We think it is our terrace that will sell the apartment. It serves so many functions.”
Creator Julian Cress doesn’t want to throw cold water on the contestants’ hopes but he knows from experience that
Block auctions can go horribly wrong.
Cress still has nightmares about the 2011 series when the hammer went down on only one of four terrace houses in Melbourne’s innercity Richmond. It was a disastrous result.
“This is the ultimate reality show because nobody ever knows what is going to happen,” Cress says. “The couples who have competed this season have worked harder than ever. All we can do is cross our fi ngers.”