House Rules, writes HOLLY BYRNES
BY her own admission, Joh Griggs is “absolutely buggered and mentally fatigued” after spending almost a year on the road, filming three lifestyle shows for Channel Seven.
But the host of this season’s all-new revamped
and Seven’s other lustwatch series
still can’t contain her enthusiasm for life, both on-screen and off it.
Despite her hectic TV schedule, Griggs has just recharged the batteries on a camping trip in which she clocked up 5000km over the Easter long weekend on a driving holiday alongside her husband Todd Huggins, as well as industry mates Jim Wilson and Chris Bath, and the couples’ “bird nerd” sons.
It says everything about Griggs’ boundless energy that she says: “We did not want to come back, all of us just wanted to keep driving … it was awesome.” Her enthusiasm is infectious but not entirely based on her holiday high, with changes to
re-energising the cast and re-invigorating the reality TV brand.
Griggs credits the show’s new leadership team of Evan Wilkes and Amanda Reynierse for freeing up the format: amping up the fun and adding more personality to the judging panel.
Bringing his signature sass and vast experience in the reality renovation genre, former presenter Laurence LlewelynBowen will unquestionably be this season’s breakout star, with Griggs his No.1 fan.
“I love him so much,” she says. “We’ve got two new judges and Drew [Heath] is quite brilliant, but it’s Laurence who really arrives … he hams it up, he’s so much fun.”
The UK interior and design expert made headlines when introducing himself to Australian viewers, telling people they should love their homes so much they should want to “lick their walls”.
Griggs says his eccentric fashions and sharp wit made for a laugh a minute.
“Occasionally, he’ll push the boundaries and I’ll have to say, ‘Laurence, we have a certain time slot here in Australia’, and then he rephrases it with something equally brilliant. I mean, he’s absolutely bonkers, but he’s so good,” she says.
While previous seasons have kept contestants and judges apart, this time they’ve been encouraged to interact – and the results are both hilarious and informative, Griggs says. “The teams have always had questions and now they’re being encouraged to ask those questions. And occasionally they’re very silly and challenge the judges on the things they’ve said. With Laurence, it’s like a cat playing with a toy … he has enough fun, then he just swats the toy.”
After one judgment day, Griggs was floored when an argument over a kitchen turned into a master class smackdown. “One of the team members was like, ‘Well, what would you do?’, and Wendy [Moore, judge] just looked at him and said, ‘Really? Well, here are my top five ideas’, and Drew had another two solutions, and then Laurence had two on top of that,” Griggs says. “In my head I was thinking, ‘We just got the most extraordinary amount of knowledge out of these brilliant people with these brilliant minds, who came up with nine different ways to approach what they’ve done’.
“I went home with the biggest smile on my face and said to Todd, ‘Oh my God, it’s a whole different ball game this year – and it is so brilliant’.”