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My Kitchen Rules to come out with ‘guns ablazin’, says executive producer

As the 10th season of My Kitchen Rules launches, executive producer Joe Herdman speaks to Mumbrella about how Seven's cooking show has evolved over a decade and why he's looking forward to the competition with Nine's Married At First Sight.

The key to a successful long-running reality TV series lies in keeping close to the program’s core values says My Kitchen Rules’ executive producer Joe Herdman ahead of the 10th season launching tonight.

Herdman: “I think this is the best series we’ve done”

Herdman was commenting on how the show had changed over the nine years since it first aired in 2010.

“How have things changed?” Reflects Herdman, “Our judges have grown into the roles, our contestants have become more aware of what’s they’re getting into. I think they’re more aware that it’s hard work if you want to go all the way and each year we’ve kind of evolved the format and moved on.

“So the concept, the general heart and the general feeling  of the show remain the same, the general elements people love, but each year we evolve the format and create new twists and turns and create new things which keep our loyal fans coming back for more.

“There’s a real need to respect the fans, to give them what they want but also give them the excitement. We kind of managed it, the show in essence is the same thing but every year the show evolves, it’s what we love doing.”

Herdman, who was supervising producer on the first series before returning to the fourth series after a stint working on other reality shows including The Amazing Race and The Renovators with Endemol Shine, said one of the program’s strengths was its broad range of contestants.

“We’re a show that is open to everybody, that’s part of its appeal. We never go out and say ‘We want this, we want that’. We go out wanting the best people to be a part of the show, whatever walk of life they’re from, whatever age they are.

“As long as they have a passion for food and a strong, interesting personality, we’ll welcome them with open arms. We’re about appealing to many people and we’re about putting different types of characters together to have interesting, fun, different conversations. Whether its loving, whether it’s arguing or whether it’s laughing.

“Underpinning it all is a love for food and a love for cooking and that’s its heartbeat.”

As important as the contestants are, Herdman says the personalities of the judges have been critical to the show’s success.

“I think they’re crucial. I think their relationships with the cast grow and blossom as the show progresses and I think the teams get a lot out of working with the judges.

“It’s pivotal really. I have so much respect for Pete, Manu and Colin and the time they give the contestants and the energy and enthusiasm they bring to the show each year. Every year, six months we film and they roll up their sleeves, they get excited and they muck in.

“They love stepping into the unknown, I guess. They don’t know what they are going to get when they go into an instant restaurant, they don’t know what type of food they’re going to be served and they’re continually surprised.

“Each year they get to try new things. Each chef has 30 years experience each and yet they’re continually surprised and get to taste new food sensations. I love how committed they are and I love working with them.”

The changed time slot for the show, which sees it in the 7pm slot for its early episodes, is not a problem, Herdman believes.

“When I make the show I’m not across how it’s going to be scheduled and I don’t need to be. My role is to make the best show I can and allow our contestants to flourish and be themselves and that’s what we do. How and where the show gets slotted is up to the programmers.

“It’s a different lead-in this year, we have cricket and that has a fair bit to do with it but it’s not my ballpark.”

The competition with Nine’s Married At First Sight, which saw the two shows closely locked in last year’s ratings – but MAFS being the higher rates of the two – is the sort of challenge a TV producer should relish, Herdman says.

“I think any TV producer worth their salt loves competition. We roll up our sleeves and come out with our guns ablazin and it’s exciting.

“I’m sure they have some good content but I can’t really talk about their show. I will say they are going to need some good content because I think this is the best series we’ve done.

“The show, the cast and every episode is fantastic and I’m really, really excited by what we’ve got and all we can do is look after our own game.

“We’ve got a great recipe and I’m completely confident in our product.”

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