Channel 10’s revamped renovation show The Living Room is due for release on Friday 26th March. B&T spoke to 10’s Head of Factual Entertainment Sarah Thornton (pictured) about the show’s new season.
The Living Room originally began in 2012 before it was cancelled in 2019, and then brought back and refreshed for the 2020 season. Over the course of its run, it has received the Logie Award for Most Popular Lifestyle Show four times (2014-2018).
10 brought the show back in 2020 with some core changes, key being that it was now produced in-house, with no studio audience. The heart of the show hosts Amanda Keller, Chris Brown, Barry Du Bois and Miguel Maestre, however, have stayed the same.
For Sarah Thornton, the relationship between the hosts is key to the show’s appeal, and at the heart of how it changed last year.
“For me, the reason behind reinvigorating was to capture the magic of the four hosts. I remember when I was first asked to oversee the Living Room – I think it was in series six or seven – and I couldn’t believe that these four people have the relationship they had.”
“They are genuine friends, they genuinely love each other and the spark that they have, and the comedy that generates, I think is really special.”
The show was undergoing its refresh at the same time COVID-19 struck Australia. This had certain challenges, particularly for the in-house production team.
“We drastically changed the show in 2020 which in hindsight, if we knew a pandemic was coming: it was a good thing, but it was also really complex and difficult,” said Thornton.
However, it also allowed for positive changes to the show’s structure, particularly its ability to bring authentic Australia to viewers.
“I think factual entertainment content is really about reflecting back the world in which we live,” she explained.
One of the effects of the pandemic was honing in on the lives of the people featured in the show, as the cast and crew had limited travel options.
“We’ve included more narrative and storytelling and we explore far more the lives of the people that we meet on the show. There’s more of a through narrative as to what we’re doing with those people, and we hope that what we do is more than just a new bathroom or more than just a new kitchen. What we bring to the lives of the people who take part in the show is significant.”
Ciaran Flannery, the show’s Executive Producer, said that “COVID was the biggest challenge we faced as a lifestyle show. Health and safety measures impacted the whole process, both on and off camera.”
For Thornton, The Living Room is also a great opportunity for brands and advertisers.
“The beauty of a show like this is that people watch it wanting to know what you’re using, so it’s really easy, in a way. I think it’s a really honest exchange, and the relationship’s brilliant.”
Flannery said, “the new-look format has given our clients more than just on-air presence, they are now seeing their brands associated with beautiful, heart-warming stories.”
“I think that brands can see how much more they can get from The Living Room, and the investment we’ve had this year shows that.”
Tamar Hovagimian, Partnership Director of Effect, added that the show’s new season has a record number of partnerships for 2021.
“We aim to deliver seamless integrations that add value for viewers through informative ‘how-to’ segments, fuelling weekend DIY projects in The Living Room’s unique and entertaining way.”
The Living Room is back on Channel 10 on Friday, 26 March at 7.30pm.
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