THE promotional trailers have made one thing clear about this year’s season of Channel Nine’s The Block – the Perth couple will need all the support they can get from WA audiences.
Newly engaged and loved-up high-flyers Hans and Courtney – he’s a pilot for Virgin and she’s a flight attendant with Qantas – are true renovation rookies.
With a superficial refresh of a Dianella property the only thing they have ever attempted, they are a stark contrast to last year’s self-confessed renovation addicts Ronnie and Georgia.
“I bought a house in Dianella, an old ’70s house, and we just painted the walls white, Hans put in the click-in laminate floorboards, I went and chose some tiles and we thought, ‘oh my god, this is great, we love renovating!’,” Courtney said, laughing.
The couple admit their naivety was at an all-time high when they applied to be on The Block, and nothing could have prepared them for what they would encounter.
“We thought that in, terms of difficulty, it would be about a 20 out of 10 but it was actually more like 180 out of 10,” Courtney said.
“I would have said 184,” Hans joked.
“In the 48-hour challenge (the first challenge of the show), we were running around doing stuff but not accomplishing anything.
“And then in the other rooms they had these huge teams, stuff’s coming down and then we look up and the guys were like ‘that ceiling has got to come down’ and I said, ‘do I do that?’ and, of course, no one answers you because they’re not allowed to help or give hints.”
The couple also said any assumptions they would be more capable at dealing with sleep deprivation because of their line of work were completely unfounded.
“People have been saying that but the sleep deprivation on The Block is so cumulative,” Hans said.
“It’s just on and on and we learn about sleep fatigue and how bad it is in terms of decision making and that becomes evident on the program.
“Courtney let me make a few design choices towards the end and I blame it on the lack of sleep, not the lack of style or taste for those ones!”
But The Block host Scotty Cam was quick to dismiss any suggestions Hans and Courtney would let WA Blockaholics down in the 14th season of the show.
“They were certainly novices when they went in and you’ll be pleasantly surprised as a WA viewer about how it pans out toward the end,” he said.
“There are some ups and downs, there’s no doubt, but 100 per cent WA’s got to get behind them.”
“We are the underdogs and Australians love underdogs, don’t they?” Courtney said.
“It’s good to get behind those who are least experienced and we’re just Aussies giving it a crack, a big crack.”
This year’s competition also sees what Scotty once described as “a bit of a meth house” completely transform under the hands of the contestants.
The Gatwick Private Hotel was designed by Harry Raymond Johnson and was one of a number of substantial apartment buildings constructed in Melbourne’s St Kilda area at the time.
The Fitzroy Street icon was executed in a restrained Spanish Mission style and opened its doors in 1937.
The hotel started life as luxury accommodation, provided housing to US armed forces during WWII and served as a hotel until 1977 before it became notorious as a home for people of more limited means.
The building had been witness to murders, drug deals and other serious crimes before it fell into a state of disrepair and was sold to Channel Nine in 2017.
“It was a disaster,” Scotty said.
“Structurally it was not bad but we had to put 150 tonnes of steel in there – the whole building was masonry and it had timber floorboards on each level so we had to pour slabs, and because we knocked down the walls, steel had to go in to hold the building up.
“It was the biggest construction that we’ve ever done and we put another level on as glass penthouses so it was an enormous effort.”
But Scotty said it was also an ideal canvas for the show.
“It is the perfect building; on Fitzroy St, the main boulevard of St Kilda, and an iconic building as well,” he said.
“We kept the facade and that’s what the people of St Kilda really love – we didn’t knock the building down, we’ve kept the original building and just done the inside.
“Any other developer who would have bought that would have completely razed it and knocked it down and maybe built 30 apartments there.”
While there are hints aplenty on TV to get WA audiences revved up for the 14th season of the show – from what appears to be a dummy spit and walk-out by Sara from New South Wales to unfinished rooms – Hans and Courtney believe there was nothing more they could do to get ready for their time on the Logie-winning show.
“Even if you’ve renovated before, even if you’re a builder, and you’ll see this with (South Australians) Kerry and Spence – Spence is a master builder and his stuff has been put in Grand Designs magazine – it doesn’t matter,” Courtney said.
“It doesn’t matter how good you are, how prepared you are; you can’t prepare for The Block.
“So whether you’re a rookie or a master builder, The Block will break you no matter how good you are.”
Scotty said every season was different so audiences had plenty to look forward to.
“We’ve got a different building and we’ve got different contestants so the whole thing’s always new to us and that’s what’s great about The Block,” he said.
“And this one is as good as if not better than others in the past.
“There are some contestants who have trouble, some that go really well, some go really bad, some come good, some go bad.”
This year’s competition continues to be overseen by foremen Keith Schleiger and Dan Reilly, and the room reveals judged by interiors experts Darren Palmer, Shaynna Blaze and Neale Whittaker.
Show veterans Scotty and Shelley Craft return as hosts.
The Block starts this Sunday, August 5, at 7pm on Channel Nine.