Casting the net for Seven reality shows

2013-06-17_0121There is a glimpse into Seven’s network casting measures when it comes to their local Reality shows, published in today’s Australian.

Shows like My Kitchen Rules and House Rules are produced internally by Seven, both under producer Rikkie Proost. In this genre, casting is the most integral element and Seven has had dedicated teams working on casting, while other networks have used casting specialists such as Cast of Thousands.

Together with head of production Brad Lyons, Proost oversees what has been a pretty successful (if sometimes inflammatory) strike rate. Looking at their shows they take a leaf out of The Amazing Race casting techniques for diverse, themed teams which can be effectively communicated to audiences (MasterChef even went down that road this season).

“People come in with different agendas and a lot of the casting process is trying to determine what their motivations are,” Proost says.

“One thing about Seven is we and our shows are proud we are honest and we try to look for that characteristic in our casts,” Lyons says.

The latest to undergo the exec casting approval is The Mole, which has a glam but diverse bunch of young contestants (pictured).

“We have a formula here that we want to keep close to our chest,” Lyons adds. “But we acknowledge that Australia has changed and we’re changing with it.”

Seven currently has a casting call out for a second season of House Rules.


  1. I think if they’d been better at multicultural casting in the past, it wouldn’t matter. But Australian reality show casting is so white-oriented in general, and Seven’s subliminal racism so entrenched, that to finally do something about it with *this particular show about trying to identify the designated villain* rings hollow.

  2. @The Moops: Yes, but not by enough, and that’s kind of my point – I’ve actually worked with one of the gay MKR contestants in the past, so I’m well aware there have been some gay contestants on Seven shows in the past. But that said, saying Seven’s casting is gay-friendly because they keep casting the same outdated gay stereotype over and over is like saying they’re not racist because of how many black people and Asians they show on Border Security.

    I’m all for diversity in casting, but for The Mole in particular there’s really no way they can come out of this without looking at least a little racist – either the Mole is one of the minority players, in which case they’re demonising Africans/Muslims/gays/etc. and making it more likely a white person is going to win, or the Mole is a white person and it’s like they’re saying the minority players aren’t worthy of being guaranteed the right to stay around all season and it looks like a white person is trying to stop a minority player from getting the prize money.

    Plus, the entire “Diversity, whee!” casting push comes across as though they think the challenges are crap and they need petty fights to make the show interesting, which never works.

    • So you’re saying The Mole would be racist by not casting diverse; would be racist for having an ethnic Mole; would be racist for not having an ethnic Mole? Wow. For me it’s about context and visibility. But maybe you can suggest which solution would not be deemed racist?

  3. TheCrystalBucket

    Diversity? Likeable? You have to be kidding! One of the funniest things on TV at the moment is a promo for The Mole in which the presenter says that the contestants “could not be more different” (!!!). They are the same cookie cutter people of a certain age and type who have to a) look good in short shorts and tank tops b) not be very bright and c) be mildy to exceeedingly annoying. On the (un)likeability factor, I do not even watch nonsense such as House Rules yet Seven manages to annoy non-viewers of this show by constantly showing the same promo of a dark haired young woman screeching and squeeling like an over excited toddler. I can not understand how programmes such as The Voice, House Rules, The Block etc are so popular. A few minutes of any of these shows are enough to make me stampede toward the remote.

  4. SnideAsides, are you being ironic? Jake in this year’s MKR was gay and Season Three of MKR had the out and proud Dr Evil and his lawyer partner. So there are three “out” contestants in non-celeb reality shows on Seven that I can think of off the top of my head.

  5. Seven’s casting is generally terrible. Casting for diversity is great, but the people have to be entertaining as well, and Seven nearly always goes for the blandest, most whitebread people they can find (except for when they’re making villains out of the Token Asians, of course).

    For example, up until one of the contestants on this upcoming season of The Mole, they’ve never cast an out gay contestant on any of their non-celebrity reality shows.

  6. I think there is a real art to portraying the ‘love to hate’ cast members, so many things need to be balanced. I think that is the defining success of ch7’s casting.

  7. Yes, HR and The Block are a good example of the differences in casting approach. The couples on HR are diverse and likeable and not just Gen Y’s. The couples on The Block this season- blech, it is a non-stop alpha female whine fest!!! I think MKR has been cast really from the start. Whilst I wasn’t rapt in the gatecrashers concept last season, it paid off in spades ratings wise. The Amazing Race is always well cast, as is Beauty and the Geek.

  8. Agree Seven does get their casting right. Just look at House Rules and The Block for example. The Block has annoying, spoilt, young things bitching. House Rules has genuinely likable people and a diverse group. I pretty much like every couple.
    I felt the same for MKR, it was spot on, i liked everyone, until the gatecrashers arrived. Stopped watching then because they cast horrible people, and i don’t want to watch a bitch fest. Will be interesting to see what road Seven go down next year with MKR casting.

  9. I have long thought that Seven consistently nails their reality show casting. They seem to get the mix right every time, creating the optimum mix of personalities to create lots of social media buzz and viewer loyalty. They are definitely doing something right. It is superior to Nine and Ten’s efforts, (bar Season Two of Masterchef which was freakishly good). Nine’s casting is the worst, some of the most obnoxious and unappealing people ever to appear on TV have been on their shows.

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