The Bachelor EP Hilary Innes on returning to the fairytale romance

Ahead of the return of The Bachelor on 21 July, Mumbrella's Zanda Wilson spoke with EP Hilary Innes about Ten's expectations for the program and how the network is embracing the core values of the brand in 2021.

Ten’s long-running reality franchise The Bachelor returns to screens on 21 July, with pilot Jimmy Nicholson taking his shot at love on the show’s latest season.

Network Ten executive producer Hilary Innes says after using a reality television contestant, Survivor’s Locky Gilbert, as last year’s Bachelor, this year’s season is about embracing the show’s core brand values that have made it a long-running success.

”We cast him and then we looked to cast appropriate women around him, which we always do as much as we can. Why should Australia love him? The thing about Jimmy is that he’s an old-fashioned romantic hero in the sense that he’s aspirational.

“He’s a really genuine likable guy and he’s really passionate about finding a partner to fit in with his really close family,” Innes tells Mumbrella.

“Those core values of the brand, we return to those with Jimmy. So for me, it’s a bit of fresh air, going back to the future, back to where we started in the early days with Tim, Sam Wood and Matty J.”

The Bachelor EP Hilary Innes

“We then looked for women that would fit into the sorts of values in people he’s looking to date and fall in love with. We looked for woman with strong family values and aspirational careers,” Innes adds.

“We’ve got career women, more lawyers, a couple of allied health workers like speech therapists and occupational therapists, small business owners.”

While several recent seasons of shows within The Bachelor ecosystem have featured celebrities or contestants from other reality television shows, Innes says there was a real desire to return to the fairytale romance feeling, and admitted that the show hasn’t always produced the right heroes. 

“We’re going back to the beginnings, and a desire to return to that fairytale romance that The Bachelor was always known for. It was important to find someone unknown but also engaging and relatable,” she says.

“You don’t always have the right people coming out of the brand. In the US they always go back to returning faces from previous seasons. We haven’t done – that we’ve had success not doing that. It’s also a case of the time you’re in, what feels right for the time.”

Jimmy Nicholson and host Osher Günsberg

How are the team at Ten keeping the format fresh after some 20 years of The Bachelor? Innes makes a pointed remark that The Bachelor is “the original romance reality show” and that’s why it still works.

“It is a singular story that people relate to and it has a loyal audience. I think for all those reasons it’s stuck with audiences. And with keeping it fresh, it’s about choosing the right people in any given year.

“The dates add a secondary element to that. I think we always have high end-dates, really grassroots dates and all of those. But it’s about finding the right people to tell the story.”

In striving for authenticity, Innes says the team at Ten has worked to make the families of the cast a bigger part of the series.

It’s important to frame your season around a hero or heroine, and that they actually get to tell part of the story. Families get brought in more than back in the day. Family is a big part of The Bachelor as a brand now.”

It helped that the show was able to film outside of NSW for this year’s finale, after a Covid-impacted 2020 season, Innes adds.

As for audience expectations, Ten thinks The Bachelor will perform well regardless of ongoing lockdowns.

I don’t think the lockdown element will have much of an impact now on how it’s consumed this year. I think it’s such a changing landscape and the way people are viewing content is so different to a year ago and even a year before that.

“I have faith that we will continue to deliver what the audience wants, and in this series we really have. It’s a fantastic romantic series with a beautiful outcome. It’s right in the zone of why our audiences love The Bachelor.”


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