Break­ing all the rules


The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

HOUSE RULES Tues­day, 7.30pm, Seven

JO­HANNA Griggs faced a tough choice when she was first of­fered the job host­ing new state-ver­sus-state re­al­ity ren­o­va­tion show House Rules.

The chal­lenge of fronting an untested for­mat was daunt­ing as not only is Griggs in­ex­pe­ri­enced in the genre, but the wrecks of sim­i­lar shows, such as The Ren­o­va­tors, lit­ter tele­vi­sion’s grave­yard.

Each week the teams re­make and re­model a room in a new house, with the re­sults judged by ar­chi­tect Joe Snell, Home Beau­ti­ful edi­tor Wendy Moore and the team who owns the home, un­aware which of their com­peti­tors is re­spon­si­ble.

One of the fac­tors in the suc­cess of My Kitchen Rules has been its fo­cus on cast­ing, seem­ingly at the ex­pense of cook­ing abil­ity. So will its sis­ter show put the em­pha­sis on the peo­ple or on the work?

‘‘The sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween MKR and House Rules are sim­ply that teams from each state com­pete against each other and that’s about it,’’ Griggs says.

But with The Block due to drop into the sched­ule, the pro­gram’s mak­ers clearly hope House Rules will be able to em­u­late MKR’s suc­cess in knock­ing off the reign­ing champ (in that in­stance, MasterChef).

But as The Ren­o­va­tors’ rat­ings demon­strated, a pop­u­lar sub­ject doesn’t guar­an­tee suc­cess.

Griggs says The Ren­o­va­tors was set in a ware­house and didn’t lever­age off the emo­tional in­vest­ment peo­ple have in their own homes.

Tak­ing the job also meant giv­ing up her 15-year­long stretch cov­er­ing the Aus­tralian Open.

And on a per­sonal level, she knew that try­ing to com­bine the show’s in­tense work­load with pre­sent­ing Bet­ter Homes and Gar­dens and help­ing her hus­band Todd Hug­gins run their con­struc­tion com­pany, was go­ing to put a big strain on the house­hold.

‘‘It came down to a fam­ily de­ci­sion,’’ says Griggs of sit­ting down to dis­cuss the op­por­tu­nity with Todd and her two teenage boys from her mar­riage to Gary Sweet, Jesse and Joe. ‘‘We knew it would be a lot of travel – how did they feel about me be­ing away a lot again? And would Todd be able to cope with that?’’

Three years ear­lier, Griggs had quit her job pre­sent­ing sport on Seven News in Syd­ney so she’d have more time with the boys, then aged 15 and 14.

‘‘I was work­ing seven days a week and we just went: I need to take a step back, I need to be there for the phone calls, I need to be there for the pick­ups and the drop offs un­til we get them to a bit more un­der­stand­ing of where they are.’’

With Jesse in his fi­nal year of school and Joe start­ing to learn an elec­tri­cal trade, the fam­ily col­lec­tively de­cided the time was right for Griggs to go for it.

‘‘Ul­ti­mately the four of us all went, yep we are in a dif­fer­ent place to where we were in 2010 and it felt right. Todd felt that if I didn’t say yes to this, then an­other op­por­tu­nity might not come up.

‘‘And the boys were all for it. I think it might pos­si­bly be the only thing I’ve ever done that they’ll watch!’’

Built from the ground up by the mak­ers of My Kitchen Rules, House Rules sees six teams from around Aus­tralia hand over the keys to their homes to let the oth­ers ren­o­vate it.

‘‘There is not a chance on earth that I’d be able to trust those de­ci­sions and the big­gest thing you ever in­vest in, to a bunch of peo­ple you barely know’’

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