While the new season of Five Bedrooms is premiering exclusively on Paramount + instead of Channel 10, Australia’s favourite housemates are still returning to the same home.
Premiering on Sunday, May 14, the brand-new season picks up just weeks after we last left Liz, Ben, Heather, Ainsley, Harry and Simmo in the season three finale.
Simultaneous bombshells are set to disrupt the delicate ecosystem in the house, with a surprise financial windfall, two graduations, two milestone birthdays, a catastrophic loss, and an abrupt funeral.
Mediaweek spoke to producer Christine Bartlett about the new season, how the show has evolved from the first season and what viewers can expect from season four.
When asked how the show had evolved from the first season, Bartlett said it’s been a hell of a ride, especially because the first season was pre-Covid.
“The thing about the first season is you don’t have any sense of whether it’s going to land in the world. I was nervous about the relationship between one of the characters, Heather, who’s a middle-aged lady and young Benny, who’s a strapping young man in his prime and I was really concerned that the public was gonna go, ‘Oh, come on! He could have anything!’ Then we saw season one go to air and we realised that there was enough of a voice behind that story and then we could lean into it in season two,” she said.
Going into season four, the production had endured two seasons of a new Covid reality and with that came new protocols and procedures that needed to be followed to ensure a safe filming environment.
Bartlett admits it was an incredibly scary experience, but also incredibly rewarding as all of the extended cast was available to film after production ended on season three.
“The thing that really separates season four from the last couple has been the fact that we could get all of our supporting cast back. We had so much story for them that we couldn’t spend in season three. We are obviously really spoiled with our main core cast, they are breathtaking, but the truth is our extended cast is just an embarrassment of riches, they are just sensational in their own right and not secondary players,” she said.
In the competitive world of television, standing out as an original show doesn’t come easy. As streaming is becoming the new normal, services such as Max (formerly HBO Max) prove that the small screen is becoming just as prestigious as the big screen in terms of ambitious storytelling and complex characters. Season four of the show received a large investment from VicScreen and while it can’t be compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on American-produced productions, the investment for the home-grown dramedy was extremely welcomed.
“The standard and the quality of television that’s being made in the world at the moment is just staggering. It’s hard to be competitive and without the help of that investment, we just couldn’t do it. They are literal saviours,” she said.
The popularity of Five Bedrooms speaks to the relatability of its characters, and the fact that viewers are loyal and keep returning every season is something that Bartlett expresses the production team doesn’t take for granted.
“There’s something so fantastic about a limited series, but there is also something that’s special about a returning series because we get to go so deep. We know these characters like the back of our hand, and I think that’s why people keep coming back.
“I think the show speaks to the heart of our experiences, in the sense that it’s not sugar-coated, it’s people trying to support each other, and while they’re struggling with various things like we all do, I think that the audience is rooting for them,” she said.
Season four is set to be dialled up to eleven as the producers of the show have been spoilt for choice in terms of the character spread, especially after the restrictions on what and who they could access during the filming of season three.
“I think this season is probably the strongest test of the real premise of the show, which is, are these bunch of misfits really living a better version of life than the normal traditional version of family?
“I’m not allowed to spoil it, but there’s a lot of romance, a couple of surprises, some painful loss and I’d say some big swings,” she said.
Season four of Five Bedrooms premieres exclusively on Paramount + from Sunday May 14.