MAFS boss reacts to wild rumours
Married At First Sight's executive producer has set the record straight about two of the juiciest rumours about the upcoming season.
Late last year, Hit106.9 breakfast host Nick Gill claimed on radio that the reality show had to shut down for two weeks during filming because things got too out of hand.
He went on to claim that one of the contestants was sent to a rehab facility halfway through production.
"They've just gone so loose on the show that they were worried about their mental wellbeing," Gill said about the contestant. "Somebody was just losing it on the set so much that they had to check them in."
The boss of MAFS, which kicks off season 7 on Monday night on Channel 9, spoke to news.com.au today about Gill's claims.
"We did postpone for a while," Mr Walsh admitted. But he denied filming came to a halt because things got too out of hand, insisting it was due to "production reasons".
"Dates change and things change in the schedule, but we've never stopped the show because of drama," Mr Walsh told news.com.au. "In fact if there's drama, we'd want to keep filming."
When asked if a contestant from the current season was admitted to a rehab facility of some kind, Mr Walsh denied that was the case.
"No, that's not right," he said about the rumour.
Here are the other highlights from our chat with John Walsh.
Are there any changes to the MAFS format this year?
It's pretty much the same. There's the matching process, the ceremonies, the dinner parties and the commitment ceremonies. We have introduced a new thing called 'Intimacy Week', which is for the couples to work on their intimacy, their physical and emotional intimacy. It's just about establishing a closer bond with your partner and all the things that that means. It ends up being a very useful tool for most of the couples, actually.
Is it hard to ensure the contestants are on MAFS for the right reasons rather than just wanting to be famous?
It is tricky because there's no doubt we get people applying for that purpose. It's a whole part of the interviewing process … that we find people who are as genuine as we can and who are in the experiment for the right reasons. I admit, it's not easy.
There's a lesbian couple this year, is that correct?
Yes. We think it's important to represent same-sex marriage, especially since the change in laws. We didn't have enough of a pool of applicants to properly match from (in the past few years). Since the same-sex marriage laws came in, we found a big spike in the number of gays and lesbians who were applying for the show. This year we had a really strong pool to choose from, and ultimately the experts chose a lesbian couple.
Last year it was Jessica, Ines, Sam, Cyrell and Martha who caused most of the drama. Who will be the most controversial contestants in season 7?
It's too early for me to talk about the characters publicly by name, but there certainly are villains and heroes. They're different to last year … but there are certainly people you'll love and people you won't love as much.
When casting, do you look for heroes and villains from the outset, or do they reveal themselves during filming?
We often cast big personalities. People who are too timid or too shy aren't really suited to the experiment. Often with those big personalities, you don't really know how they're going to play out until you see them in a group dynamic. That's when the alpha males emerge, the stirrers. We really don't see that until we see them all put together. We don't cast for a villain, but we cast big personalities and expect that a certain number of them at different times will say things or behave in a way that may polarise the audience.
Each year we tend to see contestants complain in interviews that they were edited unfairly. How do you feel when you hear some of them saying that?
We try to represent everyone as fairly as we possibly can. We spend hundreds of hours with them, and sometimes it's more about the things that they wished we'd shown rather than the way they'd been edited. That's the nature of this sort of TV, we can't put everything we film to air. It most often happens to people whose relationship didn't work out.
Mr Walsh told news.com.au that all of the upcoming season of MAFS had already been filmed, including the reunion episodes. And while he said there were no moments as confronting as last year's wine-throwing incident, he's confident we'll still be gripped by what we see.
"I don't think it's more shocking than last season," he laughed. "But there are some shocks to come."
Married At First Sight starts on Channel 9 at 7.30pm on Monday night. Warning: The opening episode runs until 9.20pm.