Five couples. One Iconic building. 11 weeks to renovate. No sleep. What could possibly go wrong? Welcome to The Block 2018.
Mention the name ‘The Gatwick’ to anyone living in Melbourne and chances are they’ll have an opinion. ‘Eyesore’, ‘Blight’, ‘Dump’ - these are just some of the choice adjectives that have been used to describe this old hotel and boarding house, which has had something of a dramatic fall from grace in recent years.
Enter, The Block!
In late 2016 the show’s producers were approached by the buildings owners, who were looking to sell their valuable piece of prime beach-side real-estate.
Negotiations to re-house the building’s occupants - many of whom were deemed socially ‘at risk’ - got underway, with help of local council and charity organisations. And, at the beginning of 2018, work finally commenced on the building’s radical transformation.
“I knew it was a fantastic, iconic building, and I knew it had so much potential, so I was very excited when I heard The Gatwick would be our next project,” says the show’s host, Scott Cam, who is returning to the show for it’s 13th season.
“Fitzroy Street is, in itself, an eclectic hub and the Gatwick is at the heart of that. It’s had various lives over its time - and now we’re about to breath new life again.”
Unlike previous series filmed in Melbourne, The Block: The Gatwick commenced filming over the summer months in early 2018. For the show’s producers, it felt like a return to form.
“This series brings us right back to where we started in Bondi in 2003,” says Executive Producer, Julian Cress.
“We filmed in Summer, which gives it a flavour, I think, that hasn’t been seen on The Block for a very long time.
“It’s usually bitterly cold, and raining. So there’s naturally a very different look and feel to this year’s show.”
As the sun beat down one February day, our five couples were handed their sets of keys.
Chosen from a record-breaking 45,00 entries (that’s a whopping 90,000 individuals who thought they had what it took!), are Victoria’s Bianca, (35) and Carla (35), Queensland’s Jess (33) and Norm (40), South Australia’s Kerrie (48) and Spence (46), WA’s Hans (37) and Courtney (33) and Sara (31) and Hayden (45), who hail from New South Wales.
And boy - do they have their work cut out for them.
Over eleven weeks, and with a budget of $250,000, these teams will compete to totally transform five luxury apartment spaces, delivering a room a week for the judges’ assesment.
They’re all competing at the chance to walk away with $100,000 prize money, and any profit made when their apartments go under the hammer at a live public auction later this year.
And they’ll hit the ground running - within the first 48 hours, the contestants will be tasked with totally transforming their first room from start to finish.
The stakes are massive - the winner will then be given the chance to pick from either three apartments within the old, heritage part of the building or two grand penthouses nestled on the building’s roof. The catch? These top two properties don’t yet exist! Not even a single wall!
Although this year each apartment is configured completely differently, all five will feature a master suite, one guest bedrooms, a kids room, a second bathroom and additional WC, laundry, combined living/dining area, a deluxe kitchen and massive outdoor space. There will also be a garage space at the rear, and communal outdoor areas.
The renovations will be overseen by site foreman Keith Schleiger (“The Blockinator”) and his trusty right-hand man Dan Reilly (“ForeDan”), the weekly room reveals judged by Darren Palmer, Shaynna Blaze and Neale Whitaker. Alice Stolz, Managing Editor of Domain magazine, will also be back for her weekly progress judging, along with co-hosts Scott Cam and Shelley Craft.
“I think the best part about this year’s series is the transformation we’re going to create - we’re changing a big piece of St Kilda. And this will be the beginning of, we hope, something really great for that part of the suburb,” says Scott Cam.
Co-host Shelley Craft agrees:
“I love that we’ve been lucky enough to give this building a new lease of life,” she says. “And if any building deserves it, it’s this one. With so much character and history, I know we are going to do it proud.
“It’s so exciting for me knowing that we’re not just changing the building, but perhaps the neighbourhood as well."
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