The Block 2023 is set to have more drama than a Married at First Sight dinner party, according to Head of Content, Production and Development at Nine Adrian Swift and while you’d be forgiven for questioning its authenticity, it’s 100% real.
“There is nothing we engineer,” Swift told Mediaweek during an interview before the series premiere on August 6. “This is nothing that we produce to get a lot more drama between the contestants, [it just happens] because they’re in such close proximity.”
At the end of the day, Swift reminds us that it’s “a show about renovating”, which is one of the main reasons the series has had such longevity.
“It’s an argument we always have. It’s a show about renovating, and you can have drama provided in the context of what they’re doing to their properties,” he said.
“Drama is something you’ve got to be very careful of. It can overwhelm shows, and the audience doesn’t like drama for drama’s sake. But if there is a kind of thing going on, that speaks to the arc of the story, then I think you can indulge in it a little bit.”
This year, the five Blockhead couples struggle with not only their builds but at times, but their interrelationships.
“I think we’ve always framed it in the context of the building, as opposed to hearing some people screeching at each other,” he added. “It was always in the context of hearing screeching at each other because of this issue.”
Adrian Swift on why The Block will continue for years to come
Swift, who has worked at the Nine Network on and off since 2011, has been part of 11 seasons of the hit series plus the magnificent houses that they produce.
“I have to say, even for me, it never gets old,” he said, adding: “You can never predict that anything will live on forever. Although, if there’s a show that I think will have the most longevity of all our shows, it would be The Block.”
Swift put the popularity of the series down to Australians’ love of renovating and the “endless supply of various versions of renovating that you can find around the country”; however, he also said that the “guys who make it do such a brilliant job of just moving it forward a little bit every year.”
“The way they cut it, the way they tell the stories, the little bits of humour they introduce,” he explained. “Every year, it just takes a little bit of a turn left or a little bit of a turn right and, I just think that’s what keeps the audience engaged. It’s never just, ‘Oh, Here we go again’.
“As a TV guy, that’s the thing I’m proudest of is the way the guys who make the show, every year, do something new and fresh.”
Adrian Swift on the 2023 Blockheads to look out for
This year, a brand new cast of Blockheads have joined the ranks including Steph and Gian, Leah and Ash, Kristy and Brett, Eliza and Liberty and Kyle and Leslie. However, there are three, in particular, he thinks will make an impact.
“Leah and Ash are really interesting because their design taste is so strong,” he said, before adding that Steph and Gian are also ones to watch.
“They’ve gone the complete opposite,” he said. “Everything is in a lovely shade of taupe. She’s [Steph] an architect, and she’s pulled off some really, really good stuff.”
Finally, he called Eliza and Liberty’s journey “interesting”.
“It was such a shock for them,” he said. “Everyone who applies thinks, ‘Oh, it will be a laugh’, but whatever you say about the building game, it’s hard. It’s all in a really compressed timeframe and if you’re a sort of nice white-collar worker, you get the shock of your life.”
Will The Block ever leave Victoria?
Each season, The Block is filmed somewhere in Victoria, with 2023 showcasing Charming Street, Hampton East. While the past 19 have all taken place in and around the state, there’s a very good reason for this.
“There are a lot of reasons why we stay in Victoria,” he said. “We’ve actually looked all around Australia at various places. You know Shelley’s [Craft] a real estate agent up in Byron Bay. She’s seen a couple of places out there. We would definitely look around that area and it could be a kind of sea change for The Block.
“I’ll be honest, the thing about Victoria is the regulatory environment. The builders we work with are really great. Sometimes it just helps to take a lot of the variables out. We kind of know what we’re dealing with in Victoria.”
And if you’re wondering how on earth the team behind the series finds five houses to renovate each year, Swift called the process a “rolling catastrophe”.
“Every week we have at least five conversations about where The Block is going to be for the next year,” he said, adding that it had “been a nightmare” finding something for the series’ 20th season in 2024.
“Inevitably you get somewhere and then some tiny thing goes wrong and the whole thing comes unravelled.”
The Block 2023 premieres at 7 O’Block on August 6 on 9 and 9Now.