PHOTO: The Block

A true lightbulb moment dawned upon TV creatives Julian Cress and David Barbour, and their concept struck a chord with the nation, as their vision came to life on screens. The momentous occasion arrived in June 2003 when Cress and Barbour’s reality TV series, The Block, made its debut in Australian households. The show featured four couples competing to renovate a derelict Bondi apartment block, aiming to sell their revamped apartments at auction for the highest price. Hosted by Jamie Durie, The Block Season One immediately captivated the audience.

According to Cress, it marked the birth of reality television as we know it today, given that at that time, only two other reality shows, Big Brother and Survivor, were on air. While inspired by those shows, Cress and Barbour envisioned something different. They believed it would be more intriguing if participants were placed in an unrenovated house and challenged to fix it up and sell it. And so, The Block was born.

From its humble beginnings, the show has grown into an extraordinary success story. Currently in its 19th season, The Block is not only Australia’s most popular renovation series but also a major international hit. It airs in 170 territories around the world and has been adapted in 15 different countries in various languages. Over 18 Australian series, The Block has seen property sales totaling a staggering $189 million.

The journey to such immense success wasn’t without its bumps. After its second season, the show faced cancellation, leaving Cress and Barbour disheartened. However, in 2010, The Block was given a new lease of life with Scott Cam as the current host. The resilience of the show’s concept, coupled with its aspirational nature and the ever-relevant topic of real estate, led to its revival and continued growth.

Reflecting on their path to success, Cress admits they never imagined The Block would become the colossal juggernaut it is today. Nonetheless, the show’s ability to inspire viewers and engage in a national conversation about real estate has been the driving force behind its enduring popularity.

In 2011, The Block ventured into Victoria, further expanding its reach and securing its position as one of Australia’s most iconic TV programmes.