If Sophie Monk volunteering herself as last year’s Bachelorette was a step forward in Australia’s reality TV culture, then Jacqui Lambie would be a quantum leap.
Lambie made a throwaway line about the show to Tom Ballard on Tonightly this week and Weekend Today had fun with the idea in 2015.
If the rise of “I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here” tells us anything, it’s that watching ordinary people humiliate themselves is stale — now we want relatively famous people humiliating themselves.
But Lambie is just the start. Innovative casting could spice up some of our reality favourites. Here’s how.
Masterchef is the home of the inspirational food journey — we tune in to see people overcome adversity, put tragic pasts behind them, dedicate smooth terrines to their dead grandmothers, and generally bring themselves redemption through food.
But think how much time we could save, if we knew the backstories already and could get straight to the tear-stained tiramisu.
The obvious candidate for the kitchen is Kevin Rudd.
The man who tore Labor apart could rehabilitate his image with a few tasty stews and semifreddos.
Imagine the poignant moment when, faced with elimination, his famously cold facade cracks as he admits through tears that his quest to open an artisanal veal cafe in rural Queensland means everything to him.
To give Kevin someone to play off, throw Tony Abbott in there too.
There’s a man searching seriously for a purpose in life, and croquembouche could be it.
The strings have never swelled like they will for Abbott’s against-the-odds victory in a sudden-death Eton Mess contest.
It’ll be a fantastic gateway to him releasing a line of branded sauces, too.
Sure, the ladies side of the franchise is taken care of with Jacqui Lambie, but who should step up to be the object of desire for the women of Australia?
It’s easy to say Shane Warne, but he seems better suited to being one of the contestants vying for Jacqui’s hand, alongside Sam Newman and the Collaroy Over-35s rugby league squad.
The Bachelor, on the other hand, needs to be a man of enormous charisma, combined with quiet dignity, and rippling musculature. You see where I’m going with this: Ray Meagher.
Over the last three decades of playing the beloved Alf Stewart in Home and Away, Meagher has proven himself the alpha-male of this nation.
Men want to be him, women want to be with him.
His collection of catchphrases — including “stone the flamin’ crows!”, “bloody kids!” and “I’m TV’s Ray Meagher!” — will make for great TV.
You can already imagine the magic when a lucky lady snuggles up to Alf in the hot-air balloon, sipping from a couple of cold cans, enjoying a pie.
The only snag might be the possibility that he’s already married. But if he is, that can be worked out in contract negotiations.
Survivor offers participants the chance to prove themselves in the harshest conditions they’ve ever known.
Every season’s cast requires a good mix of the physically strong, the devious, the attractive-when-semi-nude, and the weird and off-putting.
The Hemsworth brothers fulfil at least two of those criteria, while the devious requirement could be filled by political staffers — why not former-political-Svengali Peta Credlin and current Pauline-Hanson-wrangler James Ashby?
Miranda Kerr is attractive and off-putting, Salim Mehajer strong and devious, and I’m pretty sure Sophie Monk is all four.
Then there’d be David Boon as the quiet one nobody notices until he’s suddenly in the final three. Oh, and Dick Smith. Just to be cruel.
Married At First Sight
This fascinating social experiment, discovering exactly what happens when a television producer abandons all pretence at decency, has already begun its 2018 season. But the format is becoming tedious: who cares whether two people we don’t know get fake-married or not?
If they retool it with an eye to innovative casting, great things are possible. How could you resist tuning in to see the wedding of Matt Preston to Michelle Bridges? Imagine the sparks that would fly when Margaret Court is forced to marry Magda Szubanski!
Don’t you want to see Delta Goodrem and Clive Palmer settling down to navigate the joys and challenges of married life?
The Block is a dangerous place to be — all those unstable walls and precariously placed roofing material — the perfect setting for a group of sleep-deprived contestants dealing with relationship crises.
The contestants should be those we most want to throw into danger and/or those we’d like to see screaming at their partner about toilet seats.
I give you the new teams for Australia’s premier renovation contest:
Kyle and Jackie O; David and Lisa Oldfield; Pete Evans and Manu Feildel; Mark Latham and Alan Jones; and of course the entire Channel Nine cricket commentary team.
Ben Pobjie is a writer and comedian.
Topics: television, lifestyle-and-leisure, australia