We’ll have barely gotten over Damien, Leigh, Sharlene et al, and here we go again. The main difference about this new weight loss epic and the McDonald’s style offering from Channel 10 is the size of the contestants. ALL of them are massive. MASSIVE. The process they’ll go through also is a 12 month journey, not a compressed 3 month fat camp. It stands to be an incredible journey… but beware the timeslot. From the press release:

BIG – Extreme Makeover, a unique television series about epic journeys and monumental struggles in the battle with obesity, premieres on the Nine Network on Wednesday, May 4, at 9.30pm.

Hosted by Deborah Hutton, BIG gives six morbidly obese people a second chance at life. From day one, a weight-loss expert and trainer will take over their lives and stay with them for 12 months, 24/7. There will be no escape or backing out in the mission to turn around the lives of these people and their families forever.

BIG is the ultimate lifestyle-changing program. It offers no contests, no prizemoney, and no hiding from the temptations of everyday life.

In one-hour episodes trainer Lee Campbell works with someone who weighs 150-250kg and desperately needs help. During each episode their 12-month journey to a healthy body will be revealed step by incredible step. This epic transformation will not only totally reshape their physical appearance but completely alter their inner perceptions, their relationships, and most importantly their outlook on life.

The prevalence of obesity in Australia has more than doubled in the past 20 years. Staggering figures confirm that today over 60 per cent of adults and one in four children are either obese or significantly overweight. However, there is a huge difference between being overweight and morbidly obese. For morbidly and super-obese people life is a constant battle, from just getting dressed to walking out the door. Everyday activity takes enormous effort and for many, the effort of losing weight is too difficult without constant help and support.

MICK – 33, 240kg
Lives with his parents Roseanne and Michael in Sydney’s west.

BACKGROUND: Mick feels that his life is at risk. He lost his older brother Paul four years ago when his heart burst, leaving behind a wife and three small children. Mick vowed to lose weight so the same thing wouldn’t happen to him, but instead he turned to food as support and put on more weight.

Mick’s nieces and nephew are his greatest joy – he takes them on trips but gets frustrated with his limited mobility. At the beach he is distressed by walking in soft sand. He has to stop every four or five steps due to being so obese and physically restricted. His back aches under the pressure of the weight around his stomach and his legs swell up.

WAYNE – 27, 196kg (biggest: 227kg)
Lives in Adelaide with his older sister Sandra.

BACKGROUND: Wayne has always been “the fat kid”. Teased and bullied at school, he is a sensitive, introverted soul who doesn’t know what it’s like to be anything but overweight. He is a thoughtful person who possibly hides away in his “protective” fat but is gradually accepting his sensitivity. He appears to have felt or been quite suppressed, and reluctantly tried to be a “man’s man”, a blokey bloke, but this doesn’t seem to be the true Wayne.

His motivation for change came through a near-death experience in 2009 when, after tests, his doctor ordered him to go immediately to a hospital emergency department when it was discovered he had several blood clots in his lungs. His sister Sandra adores him and desperately wants him to lose weight.

MONIEK – 35, 170kg and STUART – 36, 135kg
Live in Bayside, Brisbane, with their children Oscar, two, and Jasmine, six months.

BACKGROUND: In October, Moniek is marrying Stuart who she has known for 18 years (he was a groomsman at her first wedding). They have been together for three years. Moniek and Stuart are a dynamic duo. The central character is Moniek, a large, short-haired, fun-loving and extroverted Queenslander. She is also a full-time working mother whose biggest challenge is to cook a family meal after getting home from work.

Stuart is even more of an extrovert, and an accomplished performer. He works by day as an engineer (a job he is beginning to hate) and by night as a jazz singer and comedian. Stuart also wants to lose weight and feels he would get more performing work as a thinner person. In a nutshell, he wants to be famous, or at least earning enough as a full-time performer to give up his day job.

Moniek is also funny and smart, but admits to consciously containing the way she expresses herself in the relationship because Stuart is so dominant. This has created an ongoing emotional issue between them because Stuart craves more emotion from her. They are very open and honest about what goes on between them, and Moniek has said that “if they don’t implode” beforehand they will walk down the aisle in October.

The first time she was married caused great distress when her father refused to go to the ceremony. He told her, “You will never look pretty in a white dress.” That cut her to the quick and she resolved never to let other people’s opinions shape her life again. The big question is, will her father come to her second wedding and what will he think of the dress this time?

Moniek hates being restricted, especially with the children who are her greatest motivation. She wants to run around with them and play at the beach. She knows what she’s missing out on. The children are full of character like their parents. Moniek and Stuart want to be healthy for and with them. They also want their children to grow up knowing what and how to eat for their well-being.

HELEN – 37, 190kg
Owns a home in the Brisbane suburb of Waterford West and lives with her new partner Phil and nine-year-old son Reece.

BACKGROUND: Helen says she is from a “fat family”. One of her sisters had stomach stapling surgery and lost 65kg. Helen says this is too much and she would prefer to lose weight naturally. Her main motivation is to give her son a better life. With his mother grossly overweight, Reece has been teased and bullied, and this has affected the whole family.

People stare at Helen because she is an unusual shape. She cannot buy clothes off-the-rack and has them made (including undergarments and bras) by a woman who supplies obese women around the country with big clothes. Helen no longer attends school functions or meetings – when she did, Reece would be teased by the other kids about her size.

BONNIE – 22, 144kg
Lives in a small cottage in Unley, Adelaide, with her flatmate and best friend Laura and her chihuahuas.

BACKGROUND: Bonnie is a young, single extrovert – a colourful, unabashed character. At university she “drank and ate junk food” and put on a lot of weight. She is taking six months off from nursing training before returning to study mid-year. She is an acknowledged restless spirit (diagnosed as a child with ADHD that is not currently treated with medication) who likes to up and travel at short notice. She has nannied for a family in Sydney and still travels to stay with them from time to time.

Both Laura and Bonnie are unemployed and their parents help with the rent. Bonnie is a big, pretty, dark-haired girl and Laura is a skinny blonde who had stomach-stapling surgery at the age of 10 to treat stomach cancer. They adore each other and appear to be mutually dependent. Laura fears the relationship will change once Bonnie loses weight and is very concerned about this – and that’s exactly what happens with Bonnie eventually moving out. She felt that Laura was not supporting her weight-loss journey.

MICHAEL – 41, 235kg
Lives in Sydney with his girlfriend Hannah.

BACKGROUND: For Michael, being morbidly obese has been a lifelong struggle. For as long as he can remember he has lived life on the edge of society – lonely, isolated and trapped in a body he hates.
His primary school years were a living hell, tainted by teasing and bullying, but at a private Sydney high school it got even worse. Michael is not new to dieting. In fact he’s become an expert. During his first marriage he shed a staggering 75 kilos over 16 months. But then he learned that his wife had left him for another woman.

Michael has now found a new love, Hannah, a school teacher and mother of two young boys. They met, after her husband left her for another man, through the Straight Spouse Network. Hannah has also been big and these two lovebirds are in the constant grip of a dieting obsession. Hannah is the main cook but she has had an operation called a sleeve gastrectomy and is only able to eat tiny portions. Yet she is still obsessed with food. With a family history of heart disease, Michael’s enormous weight is putting him at huge risk of an early death. He is also vulnerable to developing type 2 diabetes.


BIG – Extreme Makeover – Wed 04/05 9.30pm, Ch9.