TelevisionMay 13, 2022

Big Brother Australia is going back to the future


Big Brother Australia is back, and with it, some favourites from past seasons. Long time fan Tara Ward takes a trip down memory lane to get reacquainted.

Chuck on your pyjamas and give your bum a good whack – a new season of Big Brother Australia has just begun on TVNZ. Big Brother Australia: Royalty and New Contenders sees the return of eight iconic contestants from past seasons to battle it out with eight strategy-savvy newcomers in what promises to be the most dynamic and intriguing season in years.

When Big Brother Australia put its first group of strangers in a house to film their every move back in 2001, it ushered in a new era of ordinary people becoming famous for doing nothing. That is something for which my generation must apologise. The show gave us permission to perve on strangers 24 hours a day, and we lapped it up like the thirsty voyeurs we were. BBAU was often problematic, but it helped transform our television landscape into the rich reality jungle that it is today, paving the way for other people-watching-people juggernauts like Love Island, The Circle and Gogglebox.

Now, 21 years on, BBAU has evolved into a different beast. Not only has the diary room chair had a glow up, but the show that once captured the complexities of human behaviour is now obsessed with Survivor-style strategies and alliances. Audiences don’t want to see people just sitting by a pool any more – these days physical challenges define the game, there’s no public voting until the final episode and the series is filmed months in advance. It’s a more intense, sophisticated product, but nowhere near as fun or chaotic. Nobody does the bum dance any more. Sometimes, progress sucks.

A new generation enters the Big Brother house (Screengrab: TVNZ)

This season the winner of BBAU walks away with $250,000, but the clash of generations and tactics should make for a compelling watch regardless of who wins. The all-stars are beloved legends of the game (in Australia, at least), but in 2022, public popularity counts for little. They’re competing against younger, hungrier contestants who know how important it is to control the game the moment they step inside the compound.

Let’s enter the diary room of nostalgia and get reacquainted with the BBAU royalty.

Tim, Dave, Reggie and Estelle are back in the diary room (Screengrab: TVNZ)

Tim Dormer

Winner of the 2013 season and one of the greatest competitors ever, Tim is a bridge between the OG players and the tactical newcomers. Tim ran his season by manipulating everyone to his advantage, but he also knew how to build meaningful relationships with his housemates. A legend of the game, and thus, a huge target.

Farmer Dave

David came third in the 2006 season, but he’s best remembered for coming out on Australian television. In a heartfelt speech to his housemates, Dave announced he was the “token farmer and token gay guy”, creating one of the show’s defining moments. Farmer Dave returns after starring on Dancing with the Stars and filming a pilot for Oprah Winfrey. He still has great hair.

Reggie Bird

Winner of season three and BBAU’s first female champion, fish and chip shop owner Reggie won over the Australian public with her uncomplicated charm and naivety. Reggie returns to a much-changed BBAU house (“there’s carpet and a dishwasher and a toastie machine!” she shouts in episode one), but she’s as delightful as she was in ye olde 2003.

Trevor, Layla and Drew enter the Big Brother house (Screengrab: TVNZ)

Layla Subritzky and Estelle Landy

Came second and third respectively in the 2012 season, and will be forever remembered for their spectacular ‘Oats a la Layla’ video about making porridge.

Trevor Butler

The first and only contestant to win $1 million in prize money, Trevor won the 2004 season then proposed to his girlfriend live on stage. Beloved by all, Trevor got through his season without being nominated for eviction. He is a lamb about to be fed to the wolves and must be protected at all costs.

Tully Smyth and Anthony Drew

Their 2013 hook-up was iconic, with Tully and Drew falling in love on national television despite Tully having a girlfriend on the outside. Their real-world romance was short-lived, but will history repeat itself when they’re back inside BBAU’s clammy embrace? Only Big Brother knows the truth.

Big Brother Australia: BB Royalty and New Contenders is available on TVNZ OnDemand, and on TVNZ2 on Wednesdays to Fridays at 5pm. 


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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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