THE GEEK WHO GOT THE GIRL

Chan­nel Seven’s Beauty and the Geek re­al­ity show airs tonight at 8pm and then reaches the sea­son’s cli­max dur­ing to­mor­row’s fi­nal episode, when one cou­ple will win $100,000

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY/TV - SHAN­NON MOL­LOY

IT’S the ul­ti­mate story of so­cial re­demp­tion, when the dorky guy re­veals a stun­ning new look, finds his con­fi­dence and lands the pretty girl. That’s the sce­nario which has played on Chan­nel Seven’s Beauty and the Geek, with sev­eral big trans­for­ma­tions and two hot hook-ups this year – and there’s another ro­mance brew­ing be­hind the scenes too.

The show, which reaches its an­tic­i­pated end to­mor­row night, has a sim­ple premise: take a group of geeks, throw them in a man­sion with a bevy of beau­ti­ful women and film the re­sults.

But it’s no shame­less stunt, host James Tobin in­sists. It’s about trans­for­ma­tion – a phys­i­cal and emo­tional one.

“Ev­ery­one is dif­fer­ent after,” says Tobin. “The way they stand, their smiles, their self-es­teem all just change straight away. They have a spring in their steps. They have swag­ger.”

Find­ing that new sense of self was enough for Alex Tomisich (pic­tured, with fel­low con­tes­tant Ni­cole Burns) to pluck up the courage to ask out one of the beau­ties, Sara Macna­mara, when the cam­eras stopped rolling.

“I ob­vi­ously made a rea­son­able im­pres­sion on the show and then I think my new­found con­fi­dence after sealed the deal,” Tomisich, 19, says.

“She’s my first girl­friend and it’s pretty crazy. Oh man, there’s so much to learn about dat­ing.’’

The young cou­ple have been go­ing strong for the past few months, even though he’s in Mel­bourne and she’s in Syd­ney – and de­spite their first of­fi­cial date end­ing with a hos­pi­tal visit.

“I took her to this in­door tram­po­line place and she dis­lo­cated her shoul­der,” he said. “Our next date was much bet­ter – we went out for a nice din­ner on the wa­ter, which was lovely.”

He’s not the only geek to win the heart of a beauty.

Dur­ing the show, James Van Schoonhoven and Chrys­tal Rachuj formed a strong con­nec­tion almost im­me­di­ately, and their ro­mance has played out on screen to the de­light of view­ers.

“We oc­ca­sion­ally get a kiss here or there, but to have the L word this year was huge,” Tobin says. “It was a proper re­la­tion­ship and it was re­ally beau­ti­ful to see it blos­som.’’

Tate Put­nins also scored a few smooches from Ni­cole Burns – Tomisich’s com­pe­ti­tion part­ner – although the pair have since gone their sep­a­rate ways.

“Any sort of ro­mance on a tele­vi­sion show is al­ways go­ing to be tough be­cause the cir­cum­stances and en­vi­ron­ment are so un­usual,” says Tobin. “You’re in a real pres­sure cooker sit­u­a­tion.”

A pas­sion­ate kiss isn’t the only thing Put­nins landed, walk­ing away from the show with an in­ter­na­tional mod­el­ling gig with un­der­wear brand aussieBUM.

To­mor­row night, one cou­ple will be crowned win­ners and walk away with $100,000 cold, hard cash in a fi­nale that Tobin de­scribes as “un­ex­pected”.

“Just when you think you know how it’s go­ing to play out, there are ex­tra twists and turns that change ev­ery­thing.”

You don’t get to be the long­est-run­ning chil­dren’s show in US TV his­tory by do­ing the same thing over and over.

So even though par­ents who grew up watch­ing Sesame Street can still see old favourites like Big Bird, things on the street have changed since the show de­buted 45 years ago in Novem­ber, 1969.

Cookie Mon­ster now ex­er­cises self-con­trol and some­times eats fruit and vegetables.

Mil­lions of chil­dren watch the show on phones and com­put­ers in­stead of TV. And there’s less time spent on the street with hu­man char­ac­ters.

They’re just not en­er­getic enough for to­day’s view­ers.

In Bri­tain, a BBC kids’ show, Blue Peter, is even older — on since 1958 — but that Sesame Street still ex­ists in the US at all, given the com­pe­ti­tion, says a lot. In 1973, it was one of two shows on US tele­vi­sion for preschool­ers.

Now it’s com­pet­ing with 84 kids’ shows. Yet Sesame Street still holds its own, rank­ing 20th among kids aged two to five with 850,000 view­ers per TV episode in the US.

But now half the view­ers watch it in dig­i­tal for­mats.

And touch­screens have been “a magic wand for us in terms of en­gage­ment,” says Sesame Street se­nior vice-pres­i­dent Scott Cham­bers.

Kids can now trace let­ters or point to colours or shapes.

Sesame Street also has the high­est “co-view­ing” ex­pe­ri­ence – adults watch­ing with kids – of any preschool show: 49 per cent of view­ers are over 18.

“We’re very proud of that,” says Cham­bers.

“We de­sign the show to en­gage the par­ent be­cause that’s more ed­u­ca­tional. If you have a par­ent watch­ing with you, you’re go­ing to learn more.”

That’s why sketches of­ten have con­tem­po­rary celebrity guests or pop cul­ture ref­er­ences that two-year-olds don’t get, but adults do.

Elmo and Abbey from Sesame Street

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