Network 10 is most successful on its primary channel in the timeslots that matter most – 7.30pm from Sunday to Thursday.
10’s key reality franchises in that timeslot were impacted by Covid-19 last year. Some shows worked around it, others had to completely delay new seasons.
Both series of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette universe were impacted by Covid-19, firstly with the mid-season shut down of The Bachelor with Locky Gilbert.
“There were small compromises here and there with activities but not as much as in Locky’s season,” 10 executive producer Hilary Innes told Mediaweek’s Trent Thomas.
The Bachelor Australia: Navigating love during COVID-19
Network 10 won’t be letting the rose petals rest for long after Bachelor in Paradise winds up, replacing it in the schedule with the 2020 season of The Bachelor Australia this week.
Bachelor Locky Gilbert will trade the tribal councils of Australian Survivor for rose ceremonies as he embarks on a world first as he tries to find love in the time of Covid. Mediaweek spoke to The Bachelor Australia’s executive producer Hilary Innes about filming around peak Covid and the new Bachelorettes.
A Covid Love Story
After seven episodes were completed The Bachelor team came to the conclusion that due to lockdown restrictions they would need to send the crew, production staff, and the 10 final contestants’ home. While host Osher Günsberg stayed in The Bachelor mansion and Gilbert stayed in The Bachelor pad.
Innes said that two episodes were produced with the contestants living back home but they continued to have Zoom dates, cocktail parties and rose ceremonies in lockdown.
“Instead of stopping filming we continued to record what happened when everyone was sent home, which made for very fascinating viewing.
“There was obviously chemistry happening between some people and Locky and we needed to keep everyone engaged with the process and each other.”
While filming an intimate show such as The Bachelor sounds challenging during a time of social distancing, Innes said that it was a blessing in disguise as it broke the show away from the art department backdrop of The Bachelor, taking fans to areas that they have never seen before.
“Suddenly you break out of The Bachelor world and go into people’s lives and seeing how they do things like making breakfast in their trackie dacks. And it is a really interesting place to go and explore The Bachelor world from for a change. Everyone will relate to it because they are all going through it.”
Selecting The Bachelor
Innes described Gilbert as an alpha male who is willing to go down on bended knee for the right girl.
“There is no rhyme or reason to selecting The Bachelor. We went with Tim Robards and Sam Wood who were tall dark and handsome alpha males who knew what they wanted. Matt Agnew was more the cerebral handsome which we had never had before which was very interesting. The Honey Badger Nick Cummins was more quirky and funny with a big profile. Locky was a little bit in between.”
The show offers a diverse range of contestants including origins such as Pakistani, Indigenous, Malaysian, Lebanese, Tongan, Greek, and Croatian who will be entering the high pace world of adventure guide Gilbert. With each season of the show tailored to the interests and lifestyles of The Bachelor and contestants, Innes said that this season will be action packed despite the impact of Covid.
“Lots of companies started to close down for a bit, so it started to be a bit restrictive and we had to be creative, but there will be a lot of adventure activities with Locky.”
Locky falls for more than one girl
Innes explained that this year we will see another first for the Australian format of the show.
“Locky by his own admission falls in love with more than one girl, where before we haven’t found love and famously the Honey Badger (Nick Cummins) couldn’t choose someone, we have a Bachelor who has fallen in love with more than one girl which is a first for us in Australia.”
The Bachelorette 2020: How EP Hilary Innes doubled the love with sisters
Earlier this year Network 10 revealed that The Bachelorette Australia would feature two Bachelorettes. While this wasn’t a world-first after being done in America and New Zealand, it is a first in that the two Bachelorettes are sisters with Elly and Becky Miles.
The Bachelor Australia’s executive producer at Network 10 Hilary Innes told Mediaweek how this choice came about, how the season will work, and how 2020 will differ from any other.
Innes said the reason for the choice was to be authentic and to react to the mood in the community. When talking to Elly Miles from season seven of The Bachelor the jigsaw pieces began to come together.
“We stay in touch with these people and see how they are going and what they are up to, and she talked to us about her sister and the more we talked the more it felt really wonderful.
“They are not too far away in age and are very good friends, it is a very relatable idea with the siblings with the support you could offer each other, and interesting how they would react to finding love together on The Bachelorette.
“These girls are perfectly cast for the world that we are in at the moment. They are really joyful bubbly and authentic young women. I know Elly has been on The Bachelor before, but they are both really real and relatable and it feels like fresh air.”
The Australian series will be unlike the American season in 2015 where the men chose between the two Bachelorettes in the first episode with one of the ladies being sent home immediately. It will also differ from the New Zealand season earlier this year where a second Bachelorette joined after the show was already underway, with both sisters here starting the show together on the red carpet and continuing their journey together to the final rose.
The format will work with the same number of male contestants as a regular season of The Bachelorette with both women able to date and give roses to whoever they want in that group. The pool of men aged between 24-35 is made up of an even number based on the profiles of both Bachelorettes but they aren’t assigned or locked into either woman.
Innes: “We always get a detailed profile of the types of men or women the Bachelor or Bachelorette are attracted too and had past experiences with, and Elly and Becky gave us that. They are a bit far apart in age, 25 and 30 and are looking for very different sorts of men who are in different parts of their lives. We had to make sure we had the right contingency of men for both Elly and Becky.”
When the men applied, they assumed it was for one Bachelorette and did not find out that they were in for double trouble until they saw them on the red carpet.
“We kept it quiet so that it would be a surprise for the guys because it was the first time that it has happened with two sisters. It was very much a moment we wanted to catch on camera with how the guys reacted and we got some very funny moments.”
Innes said that the men welcomed the news and saw it as a double chance to find love.
“It was quite even between the two sisters, there were some guys who were unsure for a while because it takes some time to get a date. Some were hanging out in cocktail parties to talk to each of them for a bit, but it was reasonably evenly split.
“Because you have sisters you get a bit more insight because we have shot them talking to each other and debriefing after their dates or cocktail parties. If the guys like one sister they will go to the other sister to get some intel or advice, it’s a different layer that we have in the series.”
Innes said that one key component to the show that hasn’t existed before is the close bond between the Miles sisters as they go on this journey together. Which also means there isn’t much conflict or competition between them.
“These girls are not only sisters, but they are best friends and they are very supportive of each other. Becky talks about watching Elly on The Bachelor with Matt Agnew and how hard it was to see her younger sister heartbroken. If one girl early on signalled interest in one guy the other one will support her. We never got the sense that they would go after the same guy. The men are very definite too and you will see that quite quickly in the series.”
This is the second season in The Bachelor/ Bachelorette universe that has been impacted by Covid-19 after the mid-season shut down of The Bachelor with Locky Gilbert.
“There were small compromises here and there with activities but not as much as in Locky’s season.
“The main area that it affected production is in terms of where people live, with more people from interstate in this season. When you get to the hometown episodes that is where it impacts you because you just can’t travel. We have more hometowns in this season of The Bachelorette due to doubling up.”
Innes said that while it would have made it easier, choosing contestants from one city or state wasn’t considered.
“We like to be fair and in order to get the depth of characters, jobs, ages, you can’t just narrow it to one state. There is a real difference based on where people come from and their upbringings that play into this and it gives the girls more chances to find someone that they can connect with. It also provides more variety, young guys from Sydney are different from young guys in Brisbane who are then different from young guys in Perth.”
When asked if this new format could lead to a combined Bachelor and Bachelorette show Innes said that it hasn’t been considered, but she will have to go away and think about it.
“It sounds like a supersized Bachelor world. You know what I say to that? Who knows?”