Over the 13 seasons of The Block, there are always 2 questions that keep coming back:
Why does the show repeatedly film in Melbourne, and why is the casting always so white?
To be frank, they are both questions that have been addressed before (including on this site), yet they keep coming back.
Executive Producer Julian Cress tells TV Tonight Melbourne remained its base because is so welcomed by residents and councils, whilst former seasons in Sydney have proved challenging.
“We keep making the show in Melbourne because we are so warmly embraced here,” he said.
“We’ve come to a densely residential area in Regent St, Elsternwick, where there are people who have been living here for a very long time. But they love it. They didn’t kick up a fuss and say ‘We don’t want you in our street.’
“They said ‘As long as you play by the rules we are happy to have you come.’
“Melbourne really embraces this show.”
“We’ve had protest groups in (other) places. In Sydney we had people who were initially against the idea of The Block in their street but when we’ve come and made the show they have said ‘It was a really good experience.’
“But in Melbourne they don’t start off by saying ‘This is exciting, The Block will be in my street.’ Melbourne really embraces this show.”
So how much does the property market affect the choice of city?
“Sydney is a much more expensive place just to buy the property. Can you make great capital gains in Sydney? Of course you can. You can in Perth as well. But Melbourne is a very strong market, continually strong, and has served us really well,” Cress continues.
“It’s also much more expensive for us to make the show in Sydney than Melbourne because our whole crew is here. So we’re not suddenly going to start making the show with a new crew. So if we have to go to Sydney we have to move everyone. So there’s another good reason to stay.”
The current season of The Block is proving to be another ratings winner for Nine, with several more weeks to come before the all-important auction. In a network rarity, Nine has already confirmed the former Gatwick hotel will get a makeover in 2018, with construction underway in January.
“The Gatwick is a series I am really excited about making. It’s a beautiful building (near) St. Kilda Beach. In many ways, in all of the shows we’ve done in Melbourne we’ve been building up to that. We’re lucky that we’ve been making the show long enough that we finally get to make a series at St. Kilda (near) the beach and Luna Park. It’s where we’ve always wanted to be, but we’ve never found anything or been able to afford it.”
“This accusation gets levelled at us, seemingly, every time we do it.”
On the question of a casting, this year the show was labelled as “too white” by some media. In the past Cress has said renovation shows don’t attract the same range of applicants as other reality shows.
“It’s something that we’re very conscious of,” he admits.
“Unfortunately what I hear is ‘Yet again The Block doesn’t have diversity.’ I get angry about that.
“There isn’t a lot of diversity in this cast, in this series, I agree.
“This cast is very reflective of the 10,000 people who applied to be on it.
“We don’t seek not to have Diversity. We’ve had Indigenous Australians, Greek, Lebanese, Italian, you name it.
“Last series was the first time we had a lesbian couple. We’ve had gay male couples twice.
“We’ve had a lot of diversity over the 13 series we’ve made but this accusation gets levelled at us, seemingly, every time we do it.
“But I don’t think people are acknowledging the history of the show.”
The Block airs 7pm Sundays, 7:30pm Monday – Wednesday on Nine.