Joh of all trades
From swimmer to sports presenter to TV show host and renovation queen. Johanna Griggs has proved herself the master of career renovation. DEBBIE SCHIPP reports
JOHANNA Griggs was just a teenager when she burst into the public eye as a champion swimmer with bronze at the 1990 Commonwealth Games. At 19, after a battle with chronic fatigue syndrome and a long comeback, she swam the fastest 50m women’s backstroke in the world for 1993, hit the wall, and knew she had no more to give as a swimmer.
“It had been so tough to get back to that point. I knew I couldn’t do it for a job anymore. I made the Australian team, but I retired the next day,” Griggs says.
The following day she had job off ers from three diff erent TV networks, and went with Seven.
More than two decades on, she presides over one of Australia’s most popular reality shows House Rules and the long- running lifestyle program Better Homes and Gardens.
On the eve of a new season of House Rules, Griggs, 41, relives some of the high points and the hats she has worn over those 22 years on the box … and one she’d prefer to forget.
1then I got put on the tennis. And it was live, I’d start saying something then start again and realise I couldn’t. There were several ‘ don’t ever do that again’ moments.
“I hosted Sportsworld with Matthew White on Sundays from 2001 to 2006.
“That was an absolute ripper of a time. If you love sport – and I do – that’s the perfect show.”
2“HOSTING fi ve Olympics [ summer and winter] and becoming the fi rst female solo host of an Olympic Games [ the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City] is another highlight.
“I did Sydney Olympics Sunrise [ with Andrew Daddo], then hosted Salt Lake City solo, then went up until Beijing.
“Seven has the Olympics back next year, so I’m hoping I get a gig for Rio.”
3laughing and went, ‘ Well here’s a fun fact… it’s true. And it’s bad’.
“We all agreed to throw me under the bus because it’s so hilarious.”
4“I HAD a break with the kids and came back to Seven to do sport, but they asked what else I like doing, and renovating was it. Auction Squad evolved out of that and was great fun for four years, and House Calls to the Rescue was next.
“Then Noni Hazelhurst ( former BHAG host) was going back to acting and I got off ered the BHAG gig in 2005. At fi rst I thought it was daggy, but we changed it up a bit and we all adore the show.
“We only have people who genuinely believe in it and feel like it’s a bit of a gift to work on it.”