Jamie Durie must be the undisputed titleholder when it comes to appearances on the most TV programs – either as a host or a special guest.
He’s back in Australia now, judging on House Rules, as the first part of his new long-term deal with Seven.
Below are some of the highlights of a Mediaweek podcast we recorded last week.
Joining House Rules lets Durie loose on one of his passions – interior design.
“I have been in the design industry for 22 years now and been running a design office. My secret passion has always been more interior design than exterior design, although my training is in horticulture,” Durie told Mediaweek.
“The TV audience these days understands DIY design much more. People have good design sense and understand what it takes to renovate a house, renovate a garden, choose furniture and put together a beautiful kitchen.
“Australians will never get sick of fresh ideas when it comes to feathering our own nests and this show is abundant with ideas…it’s full of them. The ideas are fast and furious and they are coming from people who have experience in the trade.
“That’s what our audience is looking for. We are dealing with a far more educated audience than when I started 20 years ago on Backyard Blitz.”
Although House Rules is the first show Durie and Johanna Griggs have done together, they have been part of the Seven family at different times.
“I spent a fair bit of time with Seven last time on everything from Dancing With The Stars to Australia’s Best Backyards to The Outdoor Room. This is a whole different league though with us working on the same show together fulltime.”
Durie knows Wendy Moore well too after writing for Home Beautiful for five years. [Moore recently moved from Pacific, the publisher of the magazine, to Foxtel where she is general manager of the Lifestyle brands.]
“I now write for The Australian on Mansion magazine, the monthly prestige homes title.
“Wendy and I have a great relationship and we even created a magazine together, The Outdoor Room. We go way back. We are family – like brother and sister.
“And Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and I did a show together in Singapore called The Apartment, another interior design show.
“Lawrence can be a little prickly at times and we do butt heads. He knows I won’t take any of his crap and he won’t take any of mine, there is a lot of healthy design jousting going on.”
52 shows and more to come
Mediaweek knew Durie had made a lot of TV, but this much?
“I’ve been on 52 different programs – not episodes – over a 22-year span of television,” said Durie.
“I haven’t been off television in 22 years which is tough in the lifestyle arena. This is a genre now that is as accepted as sports or news. Lifestyle and the way we decorate our homes is important to us.”
Durie first found fame and ratings on Backyard Blitz, which predated the first season of The Block by a couple of years. For a time they were on air together. “They certainly were,” he recalled. “I was working around the clock.”
Durie and his Backyard Blitz colleague Scotty Cam are still mates. The two had lunch in Melbourne recently and they share the same manager – Bravo Talent’s Chris Giannopoulos. “I never laugh so hard as when I’m having a beer with Scotty.”
Nine chose Scott Cam to host The Block when it was relaunched several years later while Durie at that time was with Seven.
So what does the first host of The Block and think about his replacement? “I think he might be even better. He’s older and wiser than me.” [Laughs]
Out of his 52 shows it is hard to pick the one that has the most impact. Or is it.
Backyard Blitz was massive for Nine nearly 20 years ago and anchored its winning Sunday Night line-up in the 6.30pm timeslot back when News was a 30-minute bulletin.
Durie still counts his Backyard Blitz colleagues, which included Scott Cam, as friends.
“I spoke to Jody Rigby just a week ago. We built relationships on that show that will last a lifetime. It’s hard to replicate that on air chemistry and we all fitted into our roles beautifully. I was the punching bag for Scott and [landscaper] Nigel Ruck continuously delivered the jokes. Jody is one of the best horticulturists I have ever worked with.”
As to what Durie might be doing next with Seven, this comment was a hint to one possibility.
“On the FTA networks there isn’t a lot of gardening going on and there is more space for it.”