Australian Ninja Warrior: EP reveals show secrets
THE Executive Producer of Australia's new favourite TV program has let us in on some of the show's behind the scenes secrets.
Australian Ninja Warrior has proven to be a ratings smash for Channel Nine since it debuted on Sunday night, with more than 1.6 million viewers glued to their screens for each of the two episodes that have aired so far.
Julie Ward is the brains behind the Aussie version of the show which was filmed on Cockatoo Island in December last year, including the finale.
From what the contestants got up to with each other after dark (wink, wink) to how they whittled down the 5000 applicants to just 250, here are the juiciest facts the EP revealed to news.com.au.
CHOOSING THE CONTESTANTS
The response was overwhelming when it was announced that people could register for a chance to be on the show.
"Immediately about 2000 people registered their interest, which was phenomenal for a format that hadn't had much traction here," Ward told news.com.au.
More than 5000 people ended up applying and the producers sifted through every single one of them.
"We whittled it down to just under 1000 people right around the country and then we went and met them all and put them through their paces to actually see what they were capable of."
There wasn't a Ninja Warrior course to test the applicants on, so instead the producers came up with a 20-minute challenge that each person had to have a crack at.
It consisted of a five-minute plank, five-minutes of push-ups and pull-ups, a five-minute dead hang and five-minutes of jump rope.
In addition to applications from members of the public, the producers also reached out to a number of celebrities.
"We've got Tim Robards, Beau Ryan, Adam Cooney, Justice Crew and a good selection of Olympians," Ward said.
There were also a number of stars who were approached but chickened out.
"I do think that first seasons are a playground for the brave and I think a lot of people sit back and go, 'I'll wait and see how it goes,' and then afterwards go, 'Oh yeah, I could take that on'," Ward said.
"I'd expect that the sell for a season two and beyond might be an easier one."
CHECKING OUT THE COURSE
The contestants don't get the chance to have a dry-run on the course before their filmed attempt but they do get to check it out.
"They didn't get an induction on the course until mid-afternoon before they run it that night," Ward said.
"They get instructed by the guys that build and run the course. As a group they go through and get exactly the same instructions but they don't get to have a go beforehand at all.
"The instructors run them through the course and show them different ways to attack each obstacle."
We're only two episodes in but already we've seen some contestants with rather colourful outfits.
In particular it's hard to go past Jack Wilson who tackled the course in a pair of Budgie Smugglers.
"We encouraged people to wear whatever they wanted to," Ward said.
"There were some considerations for what you should and shouldn't wear on the course for safety factors, but ultimately it was each person's personal choice.
"As far as Jack Wilson was concerned, he asked if it was OK for him to wear his Budgie Smugglers with the Aboriginal flag and we said, 'sure!' There's no reason why he shouldn't be allowed to."
As mentioned, the show was filmed over a two-week period last December on Cockatoo Island in the middle of Sydney Harbour.
"We didn't start shooting until after 8 o'clock at night and we kept shooting through to 2.30am," Ward said.
The producers couldn't exactly boot the contestants off the island so late at night, so they all camped overnight in glamping accommodation on Cockatoo Island.
So was there any funny business between the Ninja Warrior contestants?
Ward said she has no idea but added, "it's entirely possible, isn't it?"
"There's a lot of great participants who were very ... supportive of each other," she said.
The show is hosted by Ben Fordham and Rebecca Maddern who commentated as each contestant tackled the course.
But some of the commentary the audience hears on each episode was actually added later by the pair in a production studio.
"I's a combination," Ward told news.com.au.
"We tried to keep as much live [commentary] because they did actually call it live and they were incredible. But just when we put the episodes together we needed to string together a narrative, so they would go into the voice-over booth and pick up some various bits and pieces. I'd say 50-60 per cent [of the commentary] was live."
Australian Ninja Warrior continues on Channel Nine tonight at 7:30pm