THE COUPLES AREN’T THE ONLY ONES LEAVING THE EXPERIMENT THIS YEAR
After seven seasons and a string of failed relationships, New Idea understands the Married at First Sight experts will not be returning for another season of the popular reality TV show.
The news comes after John Aiken, Mel Schilling and Dr Trisha Stratford attended a crisis meeting with producers where they are said to have vented their frustrations over their pay packets.
“The experts are on $50,000 each for the whole series and they feel they are being underpaid,” dishes our wellplaced insider.
According to the source, while their pay packets have apparently increased steadily over the years, the relationship gurus feel the sum is modest, considering the show delivers a ratings bonanza to Nine Network each year.
Currently, about 1.1 million Australians tune in four nights a week to watch the drama and scandals unfold on MAFS.
However, producers are said to feel the experts’ salaries are reasonable considering “they don’t do a lot at all”.
“With the success of the series they have had salary increases, but their involvement in the show is not huge and [it] is produced within an inch of its life,” our insider continues, adding the trio don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to closed-door negotiations.
Fans of the hit reality show frequently blame the experts for mismatched couples and outrageous participant behaviour. But our source says in reality, the experts have “minimum input” into the casting process and are “fed lines” by producers.
“They meet with producers to discuss their line of attack and the different scenarios to deliver the headlines, the promos and controversy, which ultimately turns into ratings,” the source explains. They add John is always begging for more airtime compared to his female counterparts, who often take the back seat when it comes to being in front of the camera.
“If there’s an opportunity for John to be on camera, he will jump at the chance. Trish and Mel are … more than happy to just rock up to set and do what they have to do.”
While it has previously been reported that John may not want to return for another series due to the behaviour of this year’s participants, New Idea can reveal it could be the network no longer wants him or the others back.
“It could be time for some fresh faces,” says the source.
“Unlike Masterchef, which will no longer feature Matt [Preston], Gary [Mehigan] and George [Calombaris], MAFS viewers won’t care too much if John, Trish and Mel don’t return. It won’t affect ratings.”
According to the insider, the Nine Network is conscious of the “negative headlines” surrounding the show and have raised concerns with producers about each season becoming increasingly salacious.
“[Nine] are so conscious about the show going too far and becoming even sleazier,” reveals the insider.
“After the carry-on last series, producers were told to calm it down, but that doesn’t seem to be working!”
If plans to completely overhaul the show are to proceed, the insider says it’s unclear “if the same three [experts] will be back in 2021”.
“NINE ARE CONSCIOUS ABOUT THE SHOW GOING TOO FAR AND BECOMING EVEN SLEAZIER”