It’s back, and it’s bigger and more MasterChef than even before. 8 teams. 4 houses (as opposed to a single block of flats). In Melbourne. Some eliminations. Challenges. A warehouse. A new timeslot. Shelley Craft. Need we say any more? Oh look – a promo:

It’s actually quite smart of Channel 9 to get the jump on this, as The Renovators from Channel 10 will lead out of MasterChef and work a similar format. Establishing itself early will be key, as will the new format and timeslot. How fans of the show respond to the severely altered format and timeslot will be important too. For me, I think it looks glitzy and exciting enough to tune in for 5 nights a week. Just stop it with the Taio Cruz song, PLEASE. From the press release:

8 couples, 4 eliminations, 4 dilapidated houses, 1 winner.

The Block is back, bigger, harder and more competitive than ever – because this time, teams will renovate not an apartment but an entire house.

And the extra-extra twist this year is that there are four houses – but eight teams from across Australia who want to move in.

Scott Cam returns to host The Block 2011, with real estate guru John McGrath and Belle Magazine Editor-in-Chief Neale Whitaker back to scrutinise the renovating and designing efforts from this year’s couples. They will be joined by Challenge Master Shelley Craft, who will put the couples through their paces in a series of exciting, renovation-based cash and prize-winning challenges.

The new series of Australia’s biggest property reality program begins with eight determined couples competing in a tense 24-hour, do-or-die Elimination Challenge to see who makes it through to the major thrill ride: the full property renovation. They are:

• Newlyweds Chris and Carrie (both 27) from Sydney, NSW
• Childhood sweethearts Tania (39) and Rod (38) from Warragul, VIC
• Lovebirds Jenna (23) and Josh (24) from Melbourne, VIC
• Husband and wife Chrissy (30) and Toby (32) from the Sunshine Coast, QLD
• Tradie and his lady Aaron (27) and Shannon (31) from Perth, WA
• City girl Polly (24) and country boy Waz (27) from Sydney, NSW
• Sisters Katrina (33) and Amie (31) from Wagga Wagga and Albury, NSW
• Twins Laura and Emily (25) from Melbourne, VIC

With little more than what they’re wearing, the final four will be taken out of their comfort zones and dropped into a frantic eight-week contest to renovate dilapidated houses in the inner Melbourne suburb of Richmond. Once thought of as downmarket and seedy, Richmond has undergone a renaissance in recent decades with families and young professionals moving in and reinvigorating the district.

The pattern for The Block is familiar to audiences the world over. Equal budgets, this year a record $100,000, are given to all four couples, but then they’re on their own. They sink or swim according to their own abilities in creativity, design, planning, budgeting, execution and selling.

In the famous tradition of The Block, each couple will get to keep the profit from the auction of their own property. And after the last auctioneer’s gavel goes down the couple whose property makes the most over reserve wins an additional $100,000. The Block 2010 gave away more than $500,000 in prizemoney, with winners John and Neisha taking home a whopping $305,000.


The Block 2011 – Weeknights at 7pm from 20/06, Ch9.