Woman’s Day (New Zealand)

‘THIS TIME AROUND IS FOR MY KIDS!’

The original reality TV star is back for another go on Big Brother

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Who could forget the adorable Reggie Bird, the Tasmanian fish ’n’ chip shop owner who won hearts on season three of Big Brother Australia?

It was a huge ratings success here in New Zealand back in 2003, but fast-forward almost two decades and the pioneering reality TV star – who famously secured a whopping 72% of the final vote and $250,000 in prize money – is doing it all over again! With the show now celebratin­g its 21st birthday on TVNZ OnDemand, the epic 14th series sees a bunch of old favourites from previous seasons up against a line-up of sassy newcomers. And the question on everyone’s lips is: Can single mum-of-two Reggie become the first person in Big Brother history to win the title twice?

“I’m still the same old straight-shooter Reg and, yes, I may be 20 years older, but thankfully, I’m a whole lot wiser these days!” she tells Woman’s Day.

“Winning for a second time would be a dream come true. There have been lots of ups and downs – and I’ve made plenty of mistakes over the years, but jeez, who hasn’t?!”

Proudly, Reggie adds, “The two greatest achievemen­ts in my life are my gorgeous kids – Mia, who just turned 15, and young Lucas, who is 12.

“They’re real little characters! Regardless of what’s going on,

I wake up every morning with a smile on my face. What else could I hope for?”

A CHALLENGIN­G TIME

Known for her resilience, even Reggie admits she was tested when, just a year after winning Big Brother, her whole world came crashing down. Diagnosed with degenerati­ve eye condition retinitis pigmentosa, she is now legally blind and will sadly one day lose her sight permanentl­y.

“When they asked me to enter the BB house again, I couldn’t turn it down,” she says. “With my eyesight deteriorat­ing at the pace it was, I decided it’s now or never. The kids convinced me – they’re very persuasive!”

But the family setbacks didn’t stop with Reggie’s vision. Little Lucas was heartbreak­ingly diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF) at four weeks old, leaving Reggie determined to give her boy the best life possible.

Years ago, she started lobbying the Australian government to approve the life-saving drug Trikafta, which finally happened last month.

“We won!” Reggie marvels. “The drug that once cost CF families a staggering $250,000 a year is now an affordable $6.80 a script.

“Lucas is a champion and despite being a very sick little boy, he just kept on battling through this incredible pain.

“He’s discovered basketball and he’s really good. He wants to be the first CF sufferer to play for Australia – he’s incredibly determined!”

BACK TO WIN

Of heading back into the BB house after 20 years, the Tasmanian star, not normally coy, remains very tight-lipped about what she’s expecting this time around.

“Everyone will just have to wait and see,” she teases with her trademark grin. “But I seriously couldn’t believe the house – flash carpet and a dishwasher! You have to remember there weren’t any challenges in our day, so knowing how clumsy I am, get ready for plenty of spills!

“Big Brother will always run through my veins and this time around, it’s all about the kids. Before I go blind, I want to make sure they’re going to be safe and secure because in the end, if your children are healthy and happy, then everything else in the world is OK.”

BIG BROTHER AUSTRALIA

season 14 is streaming now on TVNZ OnDemand.

 ?? ?? With her daughter Mia.
With her daughter Mia.
 ?? ?? With Big Brother
host Gretel Killeen in 2003.
Coming back for more in 2022 with fellow OG Tim.
With Big Brother host Gretel Killeen in 2003. Coming back for more in 2022 with fellow OG Tim.
 ?? ?? Bouncing back: Cystic fibrosis won’t stop Reggie’s son Lucas being her biggest cheerleade­r.
Bouncing back: Cystic fibrosis won’t stop Reggie’s son Lucas being her biggest cheerleade­r.

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