With the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham coming to an end, our free-to-air networks are preparing to launch three of their biggest guns in what will be the latest battle of the reality TV wars.
On Sunday evening, the 18th season of Nine’s The Block: Tree Change will go head-to-head with Seven’s revamped MKR (formerly My Kitchen Rules) and Ten’s adorable – and completely quirky – The Masked Singer.
We’ve got new faces in Nigella Lawson and Matt Preston on MKR, while Nova’s Chrissie Swan, Spice Girl Mel B and ex-Bachelor Abbie Chatfield will join the Masked judging panel with comedian Dave Hughes.
Over on Nine, the latest batch of ‘Blockhead’ couples will smash it out with the tried and true faces of Logie winner Scott Cam and co-host Shelley Craft, with judges Shaynna Blaze, Neale Whitaker and Darren Palmer.
So if you’re not excited by the prospect of home cooking shows and watching Manu Feildel and Nigella eat chocolate cake and deep fried crispy prawns, switch over to get some ideas on how to renovate an old timber cottage on your next four-hectare investment or lifestyle property.
If you just love music and karaoke versions of Olivia Newton-John’s Xanadu soundtrack, with stars dressing up in giant cosplay oputfits, then the Ten Network has you sorted.
So what’s at stake?
Marquee reality TV offerings are where the commercial networks stake their claim to maintain solid ratings as they heap the pressure on contestants to win huge cash prizes, while producers hope the shows get renewed for another season.
Let’s break it down.
Needless to say, MKR needed a serious makeover.
With disgraced former co-judge Pete Evans banished into obscurity after spruiking anti-vaccine messages and unproven COVID-19 treatments (for which he copped hefty fines), the Seven Network is hoping its new line-up will be the right stuff.
The show kicked off in 2010 with 10 teams, and by season six there were 18 teams competing for $250,000 in prize money. It won a Gold Logie in 2014 for best reality television program, but its ratings plummeted and fans deserted it in recent years.
Allegations of bullying, cheating and love trysts – along with the controversial Evans’ association with the brand – detracted from the cooking element and the last show went to air in March 2020.
Now it’s back in a “state versus state” format with “real people cooking real food in their own homes, serving treasured family recipes and love on a plate”, says Seven.
Without a doubt, many viewers will be tuning in to watch famous UK home cook Nigella Lawson, an author and host of her own TV cooking series.
“For me, the story of food is the story of home cooking. Home cooking is where the heart is. That’s the food that makes us feel safe, that’s the food that makes up happy,” she says.
“I’m in Australia because Australian cooking is like the Australian character; full of life, unpretentious, fresh and direct, and I love that!”
MKR, Sunday, August 7 on Channel 7 and 7plus at 7pm
Are you ready for the return of the most bonkers, mind-bending and highly-addictive singing competition on TV?
Forget The Voice, Australian Idol and Australia’s Got Talent, The Masked Singer is next level.
In what is set to be the most ambitious season yet, “concealed powerhouse performers will take to the stage, disguised as the most bizarre characters,” says Ten.
Could Gwen Stefani, Margot Robbie, Miley Cyrus, Keith Urban or Sam Smith be behind a giant tiger’s-head mask, or maybe a knight, a fully-operational popcorn machine man or even a squiggly rubber creature with eight arms.
If the tension’s too much, we’ve been given hints via the show’s Twitter account: “Everybody needs good Neighbours! Ramsay Street royalty is behind one of our masks… but who?”
The Masked Singer premieres Sunday August 7 at 7.30pm On 10 And 10 Play.
The Block: Tree Change
For many, returning each season to long-running The Block is like putting on a pair of well-worn comfy slippers and an old – but stylish – tracksuit.
It was one of 2021’s most watched reality TV shows, and the network and producers are hoping for big audience numbers once again.
The basic format for The Block: Tree Change will be the same, with couples fighting it out to renovate the best property, give it a complete interior make-over, enjoy some friendly competition and dramatic moments and, hopefully, sell them at auction for well-above reserve prices set by the show’s real estate experts.
And they take home the difference between what the reserve price and what they sell for. Plus a cash-prize bonus of $100,000 for the winner.
Some year’s winnings have pushed $1 million, while other years have left devastated contestants taking home a miserly $20,000 for three months work away from their families.
This year is a challenge like no other. Gone are the days of renovating rundown suburban apartment blocks.
For the first time in Block history, not only will the contestants build a homestead on a rural block of land (Gisborne South in regional Victoria), they’ll also be thinking about landscaping more than 700 square metres of land from the minute they arrive on set.
They’ve already averted a serious labour and materials shortfall due to the global pandemic and the war on Ukraine, had one couple leave the building site after just three days and battled the wettest winter in decades.
The Block: Tree Change will premiere on Channel 9 and 9Now on Sunday August 7 at 7pm.