Sarah becomes the first 2020 contestant to turn on the waterworks

The Block is back; transporting us to a tranquil time when Brighton was alive with activewear clad locals sipping lattes in bustling cafes rather than disgruntled Karens fleeing to neighbouring areas in search of less boring pavements to pound.
Here on a vacant block of blue chip real estate — months before the COVID-19 pandemic turned Melbourne into a virtual ghost town — the production team towed in five rundown houses from across Victoria for the new batch of contestants to renovate for our viewing pleasure.
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Each of these dilapidated houses is from a different decade — ranging from 1910 to 1950 — and the contestants will be expected to reflect their home’s unique style and character in their renovations.
The one thing these properties have in common, besides their new postcode, is that it will take a herculean effort to get them looking like a page of an interior decorating magazine rather than a building with a pressing appointment with a wrecking ball.
Queensland bar manager Tam and plumber Jimmy.
So, who are the brave folks who have put their hands up to roll their sleeves up this year?
First to arrive on the 2020 work site are “Queensland battlers” Jimmy and Tam.
As a plumber, Jimmy should have the experience and the know-how to make life on The Block a breeze. Tam, on the other hand, is a bar manager at a bowls club with a penchant for bouffant hair and bandannas. She boasts that she can “pull the best bloody beer in Brisbane and can do it in my sleep”.
It remains to be seen whether being a quick draw on the pour will be an asset on a reality reno show.
Teacher Sarah and Pokemon-collecting gold jewellery-loving electrician George are from NSW.
From NSW comes Sarah (a high school teacher) and George (a Pokemon card-collecting electrician). George boasts that Sarah’s greatest quality is that she’s always laughing. But, by episode’s end, Sarah’s signature smile was well and truly gone. And this sunny-natured teacher became the first on The Block to weep (repeatedly).
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South Australia has brought us farmer Daniel and wife Jade, a hairdresser. The couple live 250km from Adelaide with their three kids so moving into The Block — where personal space is usually in short supply — could well prove a challenge. But the hardworking pair are up for anything as the drought has left them about $1 million in debt. Daniel is also keeping a secret — he has worked as a carpenter.
Farmer/carpenter Daniel and hairdresser Jade have arrived from outback SA.
From WA it’s the glamour duo, carpenter Luke and teacher Jasmin. The couple have two young kids and Jasmin boasts that her husband, who also moonlights as a model, has a face that “pays some bills”.
And finally, the locals — Harry and Tash — who quickly reassured the other slightly baffled contestants that they were father and daughter and not a Sugar Daddy and his much younger partner. Despite rumours among the other contestants that Harry is secretly a master builder, the IT worker’s sole experience with renovations was from watching others do them. And that quickly became very evident.
Teacher Jasmin and carpenter/model Luke bring the glam from WA.
When the teams are let loose on the houses, they are shocked by the state they are in – remarkable given this is now the eleventh season of the show and it’s the same story every time.
Protective Harry is instantly worried his beloved daughter might trip on the rubble strewn about the place. And Sarah, a self-described neat freak, wonders how she will cope with all the mess when, at home, she loves nothing more than to be let loose on her pantry with a labeller and neatly stack her Tupperware.
While it’s bare bones to start with, there are big plans ahead with each property eventually set to boast a second storey extension as well as a garage (with self-contained studio apartment above it) and a swimming pool.
Don’t panic. Harry and Tash are father and daughter, from Victoria.
To decide who gets which house there is — wait for it — a challenge. Each couple is given $3000 to build a beach box in the backyard and furnish it as a bedroom. The best box got first pick of the properties and so on until the poor couple who did the worst job was left with the one nobody wanted.
Poor sparky George and Sarah thought all their Christmases had come at once when the teams were permitted to hire a carpenter to help with the job.
Their chippie talked a good game suggesting they make their bathing box bigger to edge out the competition. With no experience in such matters they follow his bum steer and are left high and dry when it turns out they don’t have enough materials to finish the job.
Making matters worse the smooth-talking carpenter says he can’t work at the weekend to fix his mess. Thankfully Block veteran Jason (Mitch and Mark’s builder from 2019) comes to their rescue.
Sarah and George aren’t thrilled with the judges feedback on their beach box.
Sadly, not even Jason’s magic touch and his quick bond with George — the pair dubbing themselves the bling brothers because of their shared love of gold jewellery — can make up for George and Sarah’s poor styling. Judges Shaynna Blaze, Neale Whitaker and Darren Palmer also weren’t wowed by the decision to lower the ceilings which made their longer beach box feel claustrophobic. The feedback brought the supposedly sunny Sarah to tears (again).
The trio of judges were equally unimpressed with Harry and Tash’s efforts. While they could see the merits in Tash’s styling, they felt Harry let the team down with his shoddy workmanship – well and truly quashing any rumour he was secretly a gun on the tools.
Feedback for Jimmy and Tam’s Sunshine Coast-inspired yellow breach box and Jasmin and Luke’s 70s party house was largely positive. That should prove interesting as both couples have their eyes on nabbing the same property, the 1950s house at the far end of The Block.
Finally, Daniel and Jade’s efforts, despite Jade’s insecurity over shopping, got the thumbs up for everything except the choice of pendant light which the judges felt belonged in an industrial setting rather than a beach shack.
And so, after two hours of waiting to see who would claim which property, we were left none the wiser. It seems the producers are keeping that for tomorrow night. Watch this space.