As the latest series of The Block gets underway, we chat to the show’s co-creator and Executive Producer, Julian Cress (pictured at left with co-creator David Barbour), about keeping things interesting nine series on.
The format for The Block keeps changing: where do you continue to get your inspiration?
We get our inspiration from the audience. Our job is to always find new ways to entertain them. With so many fans of The Block returning each season and new fans coming on board, we don’t want to let them down. As each new season evolves, we continue to find amazing talent, and that gives us the chance to mix up the format by bringing back former teams to compete in new and interesting ways.
What is it about Melbourne that prompts you to keep filming there?
Melbourne has some of the most interesting architectural features in the country – they are very much at the leading edge worldwide. And the city is also home to world-class design stores, which gives the contestants amazing opportunities to do new and interesting things. The city also gets right behind the show and gives us a very warm welcome wherever we go.
You’ve had a lot of faces pass through The Block over the years. Is there one couple that’s been particularly memorable for you?
So many of the teams have been memorable and many of them have gone on to become close friends since being on the show. So, for that reason, I don’t want to single anybody out as a favourite. But really memorable couples for me would include Dan and Dani, Alisa and Lysandra, and Gav and Waz.
What kind of building/renovating knowledge did you have when you first came up with the concept for The Block?
Not very much, except growing up watching my parents do it. It’s been a steep learning curve over the past decade of producing the show, getting my head around property development. I’d like to think I’m starting to get the hang of it now!
We understand you bought a new family home earlier this year. What lessons did you apply from The Block when looking for your own home?
Location, location, location. That is the single most important element in real estate. Everything else can be changed.
What’s one thing viewers would be surprised to learn about The Block host Scott Cam?
I’m often asked if Scott’s as nice a bloke in real life as he is on the set of The Block. It may not be surprising to learn that the answer is yes; he’s exactly like he appears on the show.
The Block is reality TV at its best, but have you ever been tempted to change the format to start eliminating contestants?
No, we only ever do eliminations at the beginning of the series. With the amount of effort required to do The Block, it would be too mean to chuck someone out halfway through.
What do you look for when auditioning people for the show?
Enthusiasm is the most important quality. And the relationships have to be solid to start with, because otherwise a couple is never going to get through it.
How would you describe your relationship with co-creator and fellow Executive Producer David Barbour?
We have the perfect TV relationship because David is the most gifted editor in Australia. So, I shoot the show in Melbourne and send the tapes to David every day and he does the harder job of putting it all together.
Do you and David ever disagree about the show?
No, we came up with this idea together and we always enjoy letting it take us in interesting new directions. So if either of us has an idea for moving the show down a different path, the other one always supports it. We like to see where it will go.
What’s been the single biggest change you’ve made to The Block as the seasons have progressed?
We always try to keep the essence of the show intact. It is always set in one location with couples renovating for profit. Other than that, everything is open to new ideas as far as we are concerned. The biggest single change for us was when Channel Nine wanted us to go on five nights a week. That was the biggest challenge we have ever faced, but it has also proved to be the best decision for the show. Now the audience gets to see pretty much everything that goes on throughout the entire renovation.
Catch all the action from the latest series of The Block on Sundays at 6.30pm and from Monday to Thursdays at 7.30pm on Channel Nine.