It can be tough for a TV presenter to be stopped in public and told what’s wrong with their show.
But when Johanna Griggs was confronted in the street by a distressed viewer who lectured her about contestants’ poor choice of furniture, she couldn’t have been happier.
It meant people were watching and that was a far cry from the launch episodes of the Seven Network’s renovation series in 2013 when viewer numbers were evaporating.
Griggs said it was the second week of the season when a lady pulled her aside and drilled her about the side tables that contestants chose, telling her they were all wrong.
It was at that point that Griggs started to feel more confident about the future of House Rules despite assurances from Seven executives that the series had “their full support”.
“Every day we were reading it was the death of the show and Seven was telling us they are addressing it and saying you have our full confidence,” Griggs told AAP over lunch.
“Then you have that moment like, do we have their full confidence or is this like the support of the board for an AFL or NRL coach under pressure.”
Griggs had reason to be sceptical about the renovation show’s future.
Despite an enormous advertising budget the series was returning sub-standard figures in the first week on air.
It debuted with 803,000 viewers and the following night the audience dropped to 784,000. By the third episode the viewer numbers fell even further to an embarrassing 687,000.
Rumours started circulating that the series would be punted to one of Seven’s secondary channels and ultimately axed.
Instead, the network persisted and House Rules became a phenomenal success, regularly topping a million viewers per episode, and earning a second season which starts on April 30.
“They started promoting it differently and it worked,” she said.
“I knew we were going to be ok because in the second week I walked into the local shops and a lady said to me `I wouldn’t have picked those side tables last night’.”
“All of sudden more people starting to talk to me about it and I knew it was going to be fine.”
Griggs said there are only slight changes to the format for the second serving of House Rules which centres on six couples who put their own homes up for renovation.
She was surprised at how naive some of the couples were to the amount of work they had to do and the limited amount of time they are given to complete the tasks.
“They stood their in shock after the first week in Sydney and said they thought the time they would spend on the house each week would be similar to the amount of time it was on TV,” Griggs said.
“They all think they are going to handle this easy and there are almost two homes this series that almost defeat the contestants.”
The teams are:
Bomber and Mel (SA) who own a 110-year-old cottage.
Carole and Russell (WA) who have a rundown fibro cottage
Brooke and Grant (Tas) who five children and live in a two-and-a-half bedroom house.
Maddi and Lloyd (QLD who have a home which has rot, mould, uneven floors and plumbing issues.
Candy and Ryan (NSW) who posses a home which was once owned by Franciscan friars.
Adam and Lisa (Vic) who own a 1960s three-bedroom weatherboard house.
* House Rules returns on April 30 at 7.30pm on the Seven Network.