Reality TV. It’s escapist. Often-times ridiculous. It’s a laugh … but what really goes into making a show come to life? B&T is kicking off a behind-the-scenes series looking into just how a reality show is produced and brought to life.
We’re starting with 10’s hit I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! It will be the first reality show from the main networks to go to air in 2020, launching Sunday January 5th. This year, 10 took a big risk and premiered the show on January 12th. It was a risk that paid off – debuting to 1.098m metro viewers. Next year, 10 will be hoping to match – if not exceed – those numbers.
B&T spoke with Alex Mavroidakis, executive producer of ITV, the production company that partners with 10 on the show. Mavroidakis spoke about how ITV and Network 10 work together to bring the show to life, as well as the casting process and various challenges of reality TV (like running out of celebrities to go on the show).
On what goes on when a production company and network partner up, Mavroidakis said ITV’s relationship with 10 is one of the “most collaborative” shows between production company and network he’s ever worked on.
“Stephen Tate [10’s head of entertainment] has been on a I’m A Celeb since day one. He was on the first recky where we were plowing through various parts of the South African jungle trying to find the right location. So, we have worked very, very closely with 10 on strategies of the show and how it all comes together in the last six years.”
Mavroidakis said both ITV and 10 are under no impression the show is anything but a bit of a laugh and some nighttime escapism for viewers.
“We are very aligned on the tone of the show, which is completely self-mocking. We know it’s a ridiculous concept. We don’t pretend it’s a social experiment. We know it’s famous people going in with various levels of fame, eating worms and getting covered in Buffalo poo. We get it.”
“Let’s not pretend that we’re making high-brow television here. we all know what it is.”
The one thing they’re not so aligned on? Money.
“The only thing we argue about is money, but [otherwise], it’s a pretty seamless relationship.”
It’s also a two-way street when it comes to launch dates, with Mavroidakis admitting he thought 10’s decision this year to launch so early in January was either going to be “a master stroke or a total disaster.”
“No network launched a show that big that early in the year,” Mavroidakis said.
So, when 10 came back to ITV this year and said they wanted to launch on January 5, Mavroidakis reaction was: “OK, there goes Christmas!”
“On one hand, I was furious with 10 for putting it so early but on the other hand, we’re very confident it’s going to work. We have no reality competition and early Jan is when everyone is back and poor, and going back to work and just want to laugh. That’s exactly what we’re going to serve up- 90 minutes of pure escapist, laugh-out-loud family TV every single night.”
Mavroidakis also called 10’s decision to premiere early a “ballsy” one, especially considering it will be up against the Australian Open and summer cricket, but he also said the show has a “fantastic cast” ready to go.
“This time, again we concentrated far more on entertainment value and personalities and not just who’s the most famous person we can get. I think after six years, Australia is finally getting what the show is – it took a while. But we’ve really cast for heart and humour over fame.
On the importance of ratings, Mavroidakis unsurprisingly said: “We have to respond to the ratings, that’s our game.”
“Like it or not, we live or die by the numbers.”
Mavroidakis also touched on the introduction of the new rating system – Voz – launching in January next year.
“The way ratings are viewed has to change and will change because hardly anybody watched Love Island on TV but countless Aussies were watching it [across other platforms].
“Yet while the way we view ratings is changing, at the end of the day, ratings are everything. Last season, I’m A Celeb did very well for 10, and so with the trials that we did last year, we looked at the cast, we looked at the duration of the series, we looked where elimination fell last year and it’s no shocker to say we won’t be doing anything too dissimilar.
Speaking on the casting process, Mavroidakis said the more success stories the show has, the easier it so cast.
“[Casting] gets easier every year. I’m going to use Brendan Fevola for example [2018 winner]”. When he went into camp, he was massively overweight, had lost his wife and kids and then he came out king of the jungle, had lost 25kg, got his wife and his family back and scored a very cushy breakfast gig.
Mavroidakis also touched on Casey Donovan’s success following her time on the show.
“If you look at some like Casey Donovan, she was drinking 10 cups of coffee and smoking 25 smokes a day and I thought, ‘She’s not gonna last 24 hours, let alone like five weeks in the jungle’. Proves how wrong I was! She ended up winning it and everyone fell in love with her and now she’s touring the country in one of the most successful musicals.”
He added: “The fact it can relaunch careers I also think helps us secure names.”
However, he also admitted Australia is running out of celebrities.
“It’s just the pure mathematics of it. There are only so many. Every year we get ‘It’s Hugh Jackman! It’s Kylie Minogue!’ I’ll tell you right now we’re never getting Hugh or Kylie.”
You can catch 10’s newest season of I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! when it premiers on Sunday 5 Jan, 2020.