The brains: Julian Cress and, right, David Barbour.
On Wednesday night the most famous dwellings in Australia go under the hammer. No, Kirribilli House isn't for sale, nor is James Packer's expansive Vaucluse pile. We're talking about the four warehouse conversions that eight amateur DIYers have been building in Melbourne for the past 10 weeks, in the latest instalment of The Block: Fans V Faves. David Barbour created the format with Julian Cress.
Has it become easier or harder to enforce a media blackout so auction results aren't leaked before the finale goes to air?
When we did season one (10 years ago), we were promoting this crazy thing called the internet that you could pay bills over. Certainly the risks of the result getting out beforehand are greater, but, touch wood, we've been very lucky so far that people have abided by non-disclosure (agreements). It would be a terrible shame if it did (leak) because it would spoil it for a lot of fans who really want to see it play out.
There seemed to be a lot less ungrateful whingeing and whining in Fans v Faves, than previous seasons of The Block.
I equate the show to a marathon runner. Even the best marathon runners must get three-quarters of the way through a race and think, 'Why did I do this again?'. The people we've cast genuinely want to be there and get through it. Contestants may seem ungrateful, but they're just reacting to the incredible situation they are in. They all get tired and cranky.
Unlike My Kitchen Rules, The Block seems to focus a lot more on the contestants' triumphs than their failures.
It is about the final achievement at the end. Our guys deliver entire rooms, so the sense of achievement and what you need to do to get to that point is larger in scale. We don't shy away from arguments and people getting upset along the way … but at the end of the day they're working towards a room reveal. We celebrate that as a show, which I think is one of the reasons it's a family friendly show.
So you're choosing people who will rise to the challenge, rather than people who won't?
It's always been our aim when we cast the show to have people you will love, who you will want to win and that the struggle come auction day is who you want to win more, as opposed to who you want to lose. We don't cast the black hat, we don't cast someone thinking they're going to be the nasty mean one, we cast who we believe will be good, likeable characters.
Like The Block: Sky High and the season with the terrace houses in South Melbourne, the properties are well outside the price tag of most of your audience. Isn't that a turn-off?
The aspirational angle works because you have ordinary people doing extraordinary things … delivering extraordinary rooms. The common touchstone for the audience is they can take away a lot of things, even if it's a $1.5 million apartment versus a $800,000 apartment. There's things you can take away and adapt to your house. It's amazing watching people walk through the open inspections and listening to kids, nine to 14-year-olds, talking like adult designers.
With another season about to start production, do you fear you'll run out of ideas?
We certainly have that fear and anyone who doesn't is not telling the truth. At the end of the day the bones of the show are always the same - a bunch of teams renovating X number of rooms to sell at auction. That never changes.
The finale of The Block: Fans v Faves airs on Nine on Wednesday at 7.30pm.