When Sonia Kruger left Nine to join Seven it was to join Australia’s Got Talent, Holey Moley and Olympics coverage.
She had not expected to return to Big Brother, but CEO James Warburton had other ideas.
“I knew that Seven were looking at bringing the show back and I actually thought if they change the format they should bring somebody new into host it,” she tells TV Tonight.
“I totally got that and it was never really part of my plan or desire. But it was after I signed and technically started at Seven in January, that James Warburton called me and said, ‘We want you to host Big Brother.'”
But she had concerns over whether a pre-recorded series would work until Endemol Shine outlined their plan.
“They explained to me the concept and that was it, I was in!
“I was skeptical along with everybody else about the fact that it wasn’t going to be live”
“I was skeptical along with everybody else about the fact that it wasn’t going to be live and it was going to be pre recorded. How would the purists accept that?
“In fact it has given them the ability to finesse every episode so that it has an outcome with an eviction.
“20 years ago we would watch someone sitting around having a chat. We didn’t have as many options as we have now in terms of viewing. There was no Netflix, no Stan, Disney or subscription on demand.
“It had to change and it was such a risky thing to do. That saying, no guts, no glory.”
“There have been moments during challenges where I’ve yelled at the television”
Indeed. Whilst some purists have held firm on a ‘live’ Big Brother the show has nevertheless found an audience and proven a gamble that paid off.
“There are moments where I have laughed out loud and moments where I’ve cried… when when they brought Chad’s dog Buddy in. There have been moments during challenges where I’ve yelled at the television, like the Melbourne Cup.,” she recalls.
“I just love it’s got that emotional range to it now.”
Kruger says the show also turned away from casting personalities who flock to the Reality TV genre, noting the range of contestants from 19 – 61, as well as introvert and extroverts.
“You have natural stars who come through. Angela was one of those people that just commanded attention,” she continues.
“He looked like a young Brad Pitt to me. But he was actually very reserved.”
“Some people described Xavier as like ‘baby Chris Hemsworth.’ He looked like a young Brad Pitt to me. But he was actually very reserved. In some of the eviction chats, I had difficulty getting anything out of him. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.
“Ian wanted to be in the show because he wanted to expand his social skills, and that made him somehow compelling. So, you don’t have to be an extrovert to get attention.”
But there were also criticisms, including three non-white contestants evicted in a row, questions around the editing of storylines, and a focus on Survivor-like challenges at the expense of social games. Kruger says all feedback will be put on the table for consideration for a 2021 series, including whether challenges favour those most physically fit.
“Maybe that’s a case of having those dinner parties with certain topics… to get more of a picture of where people sit in a social, ethical aspect.
“There may be more more mental challenges, more endurance challenges, that requires skill rather than physical strength.”
There are 4 remaining contestants in the running for the remaining $234,000 prize: ‘Bromancers’ Dan & Mat plus ‘Romancers’ Sophie & Chad.
Voting will open tonight at bigbrother.com.au and closes during the live (AEST) Grand Final on Wednesday. Rehearsals get underway today for the Kruger-hosted finale at Eveleigh.
Travel arrangements are due to see all housemates except Melbourne mummy blogger Zoe George and dance teacher Laura Coriakula reunited, with a studio audience of around 70 in line with NSW COVID guidelines. Amelia Fisk is producing for Endemol Shine with Andrew Backwell and Michael Pell overseeing for Seven.
“I’m looking forward to it because it’s live, so you can go off-script”
“I’m looking forward to it because it’s live, so you can go off-script and there’s not much anyone can do about it!” Kruger laughs.
“Having said that I’m a big believer that less is more of me, these days. I wouldn’t like to see more of me in Big Brother because it’s not about the host, it’s about the people in the house. And I often joke with Amelia Fisk, ‘Please never hold a shot on me for longer than three seconds.’
“It’s that old showbiz adage: Leave them wanting more.”
Big Brother airs 7:30pm Tuesday and Wednesday on Seven.