Breaking all the rules
SEVEN’S NEW REALITY RENOVATION SHOW HOUSERULES WILL BE UNLIKE ANYTHING YOU HAVE SEEN BEFORE
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’’