Mitch Edwards and Mark McKie, the Bondi couple from Season 19 of The Block are returning to the new ‘Fans v Faves’ season of the show and they have one request, nay, demand – ‘Stop referring to us as the gay granddads’.
“We were described continuously last season as the ‘gay granddads’… we were never the couple who have a family,” Mitch told Star Observer, pointing out that the term was a “double whammy”, that focussed on their sexuality as well as their age.
‘Out Of The Blue’ Invite
Mitch and Mark spoke to Star Observer on the phone in late July in the middle of Sydney’s COVID-19 lockdown. They revealed that the invitation to return to the show “came out of the blue”, and they initially thought they were only required for a couple of episodes.
“We were planning a renovation of our house in Newport when we got a phone call out of the blue from the executive producer of The Block. We were both shocked and we’re like, ‘Seriously!’”
It didn’t take long for the couple to make a decision. “We said ‘yes, of course, we’ll come back’. It’s not often that one gets asked to do something like that once, let alone getting a second time to do it,” said Mark.
During their season, the couple were best known for the Oslo ‘Party house’ and for never getting into a fight or argument during the entire build. Many felt that that was not real, but Mitch and Mark insist that they were their true selves on the show.
“It was about presenting ourselves as we are. We believe that you have to be kind to each other, and when you are under great stress, as a team and as a partnership, you need to look after each other. We thought that being ourselves was the best way to represent our community, to show that gay couples are a couple like any other and they have relationships, respect and love,” said Mitch.
Positive Role Models
“A young man driving down the street on Oxford Street pulled over when he saw me walking on the side of the street,” Mark recalled.
“He said, ‘I just wanted to say, my parents love you guys. We were watching you on TV, and that was the time, I chose to come out when I was 18 to tell them, I was gay.’ It was really moving and I never even thought about that stuff but we hope that we are positive role models.”
While it took some time after the last season for their “feet to touch the ground again” and adjust back to their normal lives, they realised their lives will never be the same again.
This time they are much better prepared – both physically and mentally – not only for the rigorous demands, that the build places on them but also for their post-show lives. One of the challenges is to deal with the hate on social media or as Mitch calls them “cowards punching you from behind a computer screen”.
“Whilst we are in 2021, we live in a bubble and forget there are people who are still driven by hate,” said Mitch, revealing that they have received homophobic and hate-filled messages on their Instagram.
The Secret Weapon
The new season of The Block promises been set up for twists and curveballs from the get-go – unsuspecting fresh Blockheads will battle returning all-star couples, who have to fight for their legacy. Also, for the first time, there will be no house plans, and contestants will have to design the layout and plan the renovations from scratch.
Mitch and Mark let in on their secret weapon – the fact that they have each other’s back and that they have found their groove.
“Mark is very talented with space, spatial design, planning, and team management. Whereas my natural position to go to is more the vision, the visual design, the interior design, basically adding the layers,” revealed Mitch.
As to what to expect from the new season that premieres on August 8, all that Mitch is prepared to say is that there will be “drama galore”.
“We will be real and we’ll deliver an amazing home. We will not be copping any shit…. we’ll be good to people if they’re good to us. And if people are inappropriate to us, we are not prepared to take crap, and will stand up for ourselves!”
The new season of The Block will premiere on Sunday, August 8, at 7pm on Nine and 9Now.