The Block in crisis as cash runs out
NINE'S reality reno juggernaut The Block is in crisis, as cash runs dry and contestants band together in a secret plan to quit the show.
In sensational scenes last night, the couples reacted furiously to news they'd already burned through most of the money they'd been given to transform a dilapidated St Kilda backpackers hostel into five luxury three-storey townhouses.
With each couple initially given a budget of $250,000, they should each have around $125,000 left in the kitty to last them the next six weeks and twelve remaining spaces left to renovate. It's a mammoth task ahead:
… And here's how much money each couple actually has left:
The couples are each called into an emergency budget meeting with Scott Cam, a Suncorp bank representative, and judge Shaynna Blaze, who's keen to stress just how dire the situations is.
Cam says the couples need to "get their hands dirty" to save money, getting stuck into tasks like plastering base coats - something many of them flat-out refuse to do.
"You've still got to have a nice finished product at the end of the day - you can't throw your finishes out the window and go, 'Ah well, at least we're having a crack'," says builder Luke.
Shaynna gives the couples some unprecedented advice for The Block: They need to stop trying to win room reveals. What limited money they have left should be better spent just trying to finish each room.
"It's a bitter pill to swallow but … you have to," she tells them. She advises them not to fill each space - "If I turn up and you've thrown everything at a room, I really won't be happy - because I'll know you won't be able to afford the next week and the next week."
"What you need to look at now is, 'How are we going to finish The Block?' Because in two weeks you could be done.'" she warns.
Her advice doesn't go down well among the contestants.
"So we're not to finish rooms to win? We sheet them, plaster them, paint them and go 'Use your imagination'?" fumes Tess.
"Why would you come (on the show) and not try to do something that's gonna wow the judges? 'Try not to win every room' - how's that good motivation?" says her husband Luke.
Tess snaps, addressing the crew directly: "Don't get a Block you can't afford to put money into! Don't give us this thing to renovate when we can't afford to do it! Don't get something and make everyone do a s**t job at it! It's gonna be a fail. We shouldn't be doing something this size."
Later, Tess tells the crew she thinks this Sunday's kitchen will be their last room reveal.
"Going out with a bang, last room, there we go. That's about it for Lukey and I, I don't think we can …" she says, tears welling.
Mitch and Mark described their meeting with Shaynna as "the straw that broke the camel's back" - prompting this voiceover from Cam: "Hang on. I think the final straw was when you lot decided to put in things like cathedral ceilings, padded bedheads and three-storey voids. It hardly seems fair to blame it on me. But I guess you're gonna do that anyway."
By episode's end, the contestants have banded together, plotting to take a stand at the end of another long day on site. Mark's caught on camera whispering a plan to the other couples: "Perhaps we need to not be here. If it all goes to pot, we can just go."
Mel insists none of the couples has burnt through their budget irrationally - "They just didn't give (us) the right amount of money for a house this size."
"And now we look like the dickheads on TV that don't know how to spend money and have to hand over unfinished rooms. This is the first Block in history that won't sell," says Tess.
In the final moments of the episode, the contestants appear to have conceded defeat, cracking open a few beers and drinking a toast "to finishing halfway."
"To the worst Block contestants ever! Five of the worst budgeters this country has ever seen," sighs Luke.
The Block continues 7pm Sunday on Nine.