The Block starts again this Sunday and I can’t wait! Adding to my usual excitement about a new series is the fact that WA siblings Ebony and Luke, my early favourites from the last series, are back for a second chance. I couldn’t wait to chat to Ebony Haythornthwaite about keeping this huge secret for the last few months and what we can expect from the Block-togon!
The pair found out they were getting a second chance on the show when they attended the auctions for Triple Threat. “We had become really great mates with the contestants we met during the eliminations, in particular Jess and Ayden. They invited us over to be a part of the celebrations and whilst we were there we are asked to take part in a short interview. We were under the impression it was regarding the auction results and Luke and I didn’t think much of it. We opened the door and were met with Scotty and Darren Palmer! They then proceeded to tell us to go home and pack our bags as we were on The Block!”
To say they were shocked would be an understatement. “We were both hesitant as we both doubt ourselves and our own abilities, but poor Luke had also booked a trip to Europe. It was all paid for and he would be leaving right in the middle of filming. There was definitely a moment of hesitation, but we both realised that this was an opportunity of a lifetime and we felt so grateful that we could not pass up the opportunity,” Ebony said.
Apart from some close friends and family, nobody else was allowed to know, with Ebony telling her other friends and colleagues that she had been offered an internship in Melbourne for three to four months! “They were so excited and I felt so terrible I couldn’t share the truth! But now that it’s out they are so thrilled and completely understand why I had to bend the truth a little.”
Despite the easy assumptions, Ebony says her and her brother aren’t really at much of advantage at all, having not even made it onto the Block ‘proper’ last series. “We’ve done a week of the show whereas the others haven’t and we knew a few crew members and had a taste of the camera and the pressure you’re under. But we also have never been on The Block – we were in an apartment complex for one week. The actual Block site and the running of the site are very different. But I understand the question of having an advantage; I would be thinking the same thing if I was a contestant and they brought someone else back. But as you’ll see, first or second time around makes no difference – you can still make huge mistakes either way!”
Humble Ebony also can’t help feeling a little guilty to get another shot at the experience when so many apply every year and miss out. “I’ve read comment after comment in the past of viewers being annoyed that others have had two opportunities to have a go. I do completely understand if people feel that way. Luke and I honestly believed that we had had our chance last time and we were not good enough to be involved. We had put it down to a great experience and had moved on. That’s why it was such a genuine surprise to be asked back and there was no way we could have said no to the opportunity. It’s something that people will either have a problem with or they won’t. Ultimately it was an unexpected delight to be asked back and we’re extremely grateful.”
If Ebony has any regrets it’s not backing herself enough. “Viewers will be very surprised with our apartment and choices we make – it comes down to my lack of confidence in my own ability. Luke was great and constantly boosted me up, but in hindsight I did make a lot of mistakes; not trusting my gut and doing my natural style from the beginning is the biggest mistake I made.”
That said, now the apartment is finished, they love it: “It took some time getting there, there are changes that we made along the way. But ultimately, we love our apartment and hopefully the buyers will too!”
Something viewers often grumble about is too much bitching and drama and not enough design but Ebony says we can expect a great sense of teamwork amongst the contestants this time. “Yes, we are all very different and there is still frustration, conflict and disagreement, but generally I believe we all got on extremely well and helped each other a lot. There are hours upon hours of footage which has to get cut down to a 45-minute episode. I hope that viewers see the many, many laughs we all had together. Each contestant is brilliantly hilarious and completely insane in their own way – it’s fabulous!”
But working on a building site for 12 weeks, alongside eight strangers and a crew you’re getting to know with very little sleep, there is always going to be drama. “This show is about capturing the moments as they unfold, and that means capturing the drama. If the show censored the drama and focused solely on the design, viewers wouldn’t be seeing the experience for what it really is; plus that’s not reality. I think this series will show a good balance of design and drama. Let’s not forget a lot of the drama comes from the design sometimes!”
Working on The Block was the hardest, most gruelling and challenging thing Ebony’s ever done but she also calls but it the most rewarding, hilarious and craziest thing she’s done. “I hope they show all the tears, the tantrums and the laughs, because then viewers can see what an emotional rollercoaster The Block really is. It’s not all laughs and fun, but it’s not all doom and gloom either – like I said, total rollercoaster!”
Having grown up in a close family, Ebony and Luke have been taught to trust one another and be open about things. “To be honest, I was shocked that Luke and I got along so well last time but I figured it was just because we had only spent a week together! After hearing that we were back on, I was worried about how we’d go. But in all seriousness, I am so proud of how we worked as a team. We had each other’s back from day one. We had arguments and disagreements, but it never lasted long and we never screamed at each other.”
The series has now finished filming, but open for inspection day and of course, the the auctions, are still looming. Ebony’s keeping her future options open but is definitely set on a design career and more study. “I thought I had a lot to learn before, now I know I have a lot to learn! But it’s exciting. Last time the show was right as I finished my brief study, this time it feels like the prequel to furthering my study and starting my career. I have a few different options at the moment, but I just need to seek advice as to what’s the best option for me, whether it is studying in Melbourne, studying overseas, taking some time to travel or perhaps another opportunity will arise. All I know at the moment is I don’t really want to see stairs, paintbrushes or ready-made dinners for quite some time!”
The Block starts with bathroom week on Sunday night at 7pm on Nine.