Kruger drops massive hint on Big Brother’s future
Big Brother is more than a job for Sonia Kruger. It is her destiny!
Long before Kruger fronted BB for Channels 9 and 7, she was invited to audition to be its first host (a job that ultimately went to Gretel Killeen) when it debuted on Ten in 2001.
"The British version, hosted by Davina McCall had just started so I was familiar with the concept of the show when they called to ask me to audition," she recalls.
"But I didn't show up for the audition because, for whatever reason, I decided it wasn't for me.
"They rang me to ask why I hadn't shown up because they had decided it was down to me and Gretel Killeen. They were looking for people who could do live TV.
"I was at Seven at the time and soon afterwards Dancing With the Stars came along, which was a much better fit for me then."
Kruger kept up with the show - as a viewer - while she was at Seven and became such a fan that she jumped at an opportunity to finally host it when Nine bought the rights.
"It was THE reason I left Seven and went to Channel 9," she says.
"Hosting Today Extra was never part of the discussions until I went over there.
"When I came back to Seven, it wasn't to do BB. That was really about being a judge on AGT, getting to work on Holey Moley - which is a hilarious new show - and being part of their Olympic coverage.
"When I heard they were revamping - or rather reimagining BB - I assumed they would get someone new to do it. That's cool. That's TV.
"They looked at a few people but then it came back to me. It's funny how it just keeps coming back to me. It's almost like it's fate."
There were many cynics who questioned Seven's decision to reboot a decades-old old reality format, believing it had run its course.
While the television landscape has changed dramatically since 2001 - with a glut of reality options leaving viewers spoiled for choice and potential contestants far more savvy about working the cameras - Kruger believes BB stands the test of time because it's always evolving.
"Twenty years ago, we could happily sit there fascinated by someone making a sandwich but now we need something to happen every episode," she says.
"When they showed me the changes they planned for this season, I got really excited. There's music, there's comedy, there's challenges."
BB's 2012 winner Benjamin Norris agrees Seven hit the nail on the head with its "slicker, "faster" format and Survivor-style indoor physical challenges.
"Gone are the days where we would watch housemates fold their laundry or burn the fish fingers," he comments.
"While we have seen a lack of personality-driven content - this has resonated with a modern audience."
Norris also believes Seven made the right call in retaining Kruger as the host of a show that endures in popularity because, he says, it is relatable to the "misfits and underdogs" in its fanbase.
"Sonia is naturally funny and intelligent," he explains.
"She has opinions and understands social intelligence. I think that they need to trust her instincts more and make the most out of the person she is rather than the presenter."
BB has been such a hit for Seven that it has already begun casting for its 2021 season. Kruger also believes the refreshed format would lend itself to a celebrity version down the track.
After all, she says, most Aussie stars would prefer to be locked in a sun-drenched TV house with a pool than eating creepy-crawlies in the South African jungle like the contestants on I'm a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!
BB certainly proved the sceptics wrong. It has been really successful in luring younger viewers to Seven, a network that has traditionally attracted an older demographic.
It's interesting to note, too, that BB has struck such a chord with viewers during a period when most Australians - Kruger included - have been living a very similar experience to the housemates.
Kruger says the COVID lockdowns has given viewers better insight into what life is like in the BB house.
She says her stint in lockdown was made bearable by a new addition to the household - a cavoodle puppy named Teddy.
Spending weeks locked up with an excitable puppy and a young daughter made even BB's notorious white room challenge - where contestants are locked inside a colourless room devoid of any sort of stimulation - seem blissful to a self-confessed neat freak like Kruger.
"It [lockdown] has made BB so much more relatable for people," she says.
"Once you would watch BB and wonder what you would be like as a housemate - would you be the one that cleans all the time, or makes the mess? Would you be the one who keeps the peace, or creates the drama? Well, because of lockdown, people know how they would react to being locked inside the house with no escape."
And what sort of housemate would Kruger be? Well, she laughs, she would definitely be one of the people who got frustrated by slovenly housemates but suspects she would fail at strategising and get voted out early as a result.
Strategy has certainly become a bigger part of BB in 2020, with the housemates - rather than the viewers - solely responsible for who gets nominated and evicted throughout the season.
Viewers will only get their chance to have their say for the final eviction when they will vote to decide whether it is ex-AFL star, Daniel or this season's lovebirds, Sophie and Chad who pocket almost $250,000.
The finale will screen live on air but the logistics of the broadcast will be subject to the latest regulations around COVID-19.
Seven has already had to make changes to its plans because of the pandemic, flying Melbourne-based Daniel to Sydney a week ahead of schedule when it became apparent the state borders could close and prevent him being part of the show.
A veteran of live television, Kruger isn't at all thrown by the prospect of last-minute changes to the proceedings come grand final night.
"I have said things on air without realising we were live. I have fallen over on set. I have certainly made my fair share of mistakes. But that's live TV," she says. "You've got to roll with the punches, whatever happens, and have fun."
Big Brother final airs on Wednesday, 7.30pm, Channel 7
Originally published as Kruger drops massive hint on Big Brother's future