The Block NZ is back — but have all the contestants who started building last year returned to Point Chevalier?
Filming on the popular DIY show was stopped when the country went into lockdown last year and producers are staying tight-lipped about who continues in the 9th season currently filming.
"It sucked!" the show's host Mark Richardson told Spy.
"We were just getting into it and I was just coming to grips with our new contestants and then that was it. It just sort of happened. There we were, and then, there we weren't. There was no fanfare, no last-minute panic, no dramatic jeopardy-inducing countdown . . . we just stopped work. That is not how 'tools down' is meant to happen on The Block."
Richardson said it was not an ideal situation for the contestants.
"A lot can change in a year and it must have been quite scary having to walk away from such a significant 12 weeks of their lives not knowing if they would be able to get a second crack to finish them. And we were all just starting to make friends too."
Some of the duos are definitely returning.
Hitting our screens soon are two best mates born and bred in Auckland, 26-year-olds Tim Cotton and Arthur Gillies, who met when they played rugby aged 10. The pair flat together in Grey Lynn so have the advantage of knowing the lay of Auckland's inner west. Cotton is a teacher aide and videographer and Gillies an account manager and musician.
Cotton said when lockdown happened it was like a bubble had just burst, because as they were all so involved in filming, they had no idea what was happening in the real world before filming ceased and they all went home.
Gillies thought filming might stop for a month, not a year, and says they had both begun to feel somewhat at home in their house, having already completed two rooms.
Greymouth brothers 30-year-old Dylan Crawford and Keegan, 25, say it was abrupt going from 100 per cent to zero and he couldn't believe how much the world changed in the few weeks since filming started.
Dylan moved from Wellington, where he was in banking and stayed on in Auckland working remotely after the Pt Chevalier site closed down. He has a Bachelor of Architectural Studies and is looking forward to showcasing his eye for design. The brothers call themselves Beauty and the Beast — Dylan is an urbanite and loves to socialise, but Keegan shunned the bright lights of Auckland and happily went back down to Greymouth where he is a builder.
"Auckland people don't smile at you even when you smile at them," Keegan says.
Rangiora husband and wife team, 46-year-old Dan and 39-year-old Megan Leen met through a mutual friend, fell in love "madly and quickly" and now have four teenage kids between them in their blended family. They own and operate a successful construction company. The family home is an old stable block the couple converted.
Fun mums from Papamoa 42-year-old Rach Martin and 39-year-old Janah Kingi describe the whole start/stop experience as a bit surreal but say it was a good time to reset and come up with some plans and budgets.
The pair are no strangers to building sites, they've been renovating their own homes for years and both their husbands are builders.
A screening date has not yet been announced for the Three show. The judges for this season are also unconfirmed, though challenge host interior designer Shelley Ferguson is back as well as site foreman Peter Wolfkamp.