‘Lifestyle TV that makes you feel something’: What to expect from a revamped The Living Room

Ten’s The Living Room returns to screens tonight, still fronted by its four charismatic hosts Amanda Keller, Barry Du Bois, Chris Brown, and Miguel Maestre.

But the 2020 return almost didn’t happen – last year the network announced it had split with production company WTFN and the show had been axed. Fast forward six months and it’s back, produced in house, with executive producer Caroline Swift at the helm.

“I wanted to make something in the genre that would make you feel something. I want people to have watched the show and laughed, cried, just felt something, instead of it just washing over you. I wanted a reaction in a genre that isn’t known for visceral reactions. I have to say that we’ve definitely achieved that,” Swift told Mumbrella.

Working alongside Ten’s head of popular factual Sarah Thornton, Swift and the team wanted to do more with the four hosts than the previous format had allowed.

“The calibre of talent is one of the reasons I wanted to come and do the show. It’s not often that you get to work with four of the network’s biggest talent on one show, and working with Sarah who I really respect, and with complete blank slate for the format – it’s the trifecta from an EP point of view,” said Swift.

“The mission was to find a vehicle for The Living Room talent that would really use their incredible strength as individuals at the forefront. I felt like they were capable of so much and that we should be able to deliver more for them. We’re incredibly grateful and proud that the production team has been able to do that,” says Thornton.

The Living Room first hit the airways in 2012 and by 2019 was up to 300 episodes. It won the Logie Award for Most Popular Lifestyle Program four years running from 2015-2018. When it was axed in 2019 the fan outrage was palpable – Mumbrella is still receiving comments on the story begging the network to reconsider. Swift thinks audiences can tell the relationship between the four hosts is real and that their connection to each other builds a connection with the viewer.

“The reason we’ve got such an engaged audience I think is because of the four people on an individual level and their chemistry together. It’s not bullshit. You don’t have to manufacture anything between them and from a producing point of view it’s a joy. It allows you to free up so much bandwidth when you’re not trying to make something happen,” says Swift.

“Audiences have a very good bullshit detector and they know when people are putting it on. But that genuine connection and genuine happiness, it penetrates the camera. They’re an onscreen and offscreen family.”

The Living Room is a completely new show – Thornton and Swift had no directives before going into production that the show had to replicate anything from the old format. Given that blank slate, they were able to produce the show they wanted, which they’re confident will be something viewers love.

“The brief was definitely a blank piece of paper. We were lucky to have one of the most creative minds in TV on this and [Caroline] wasn’t scared, she relished it. It was never our intention to set up inhouse production, but there was a moment when we realised it would probably be the best way to move forward with the show. We produce Studio 10 inhouse, we partner with Roving Enterprises on The Project which I look after also. It’s not like we haven’t done it before, but it was a very quick process at the start of the pandemic. I’m not going to say it wasn’t simple – but it’s certainly been worth it,” says Thornton.

The Living Room returns tonight on Ten at 7.30pm.


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