Lifestyle

Acerbic chemistry and perspective: essential ingredients in TV success story

“We’re the yin and the yang, and that’s probably why it works,” says Andrew Winter, co-host of Love It or List It Australia.

“I think it helps that we’re both Brits,” says his partner-in-crime, Neale Whitaker. “We’re the same vintage. We have a lot of shared references. And we have a very similar sense of humour.”

Yin and yang: Neale Whitaker and Andrew Winter in Love It or List It.Credit:

Winter adds: “You don’t see it on The Block [where Whitaker is a judge], but Neale can be very, very funny.”

The acerbic chemistry between the two is a big part of the fun – and success – of the series, as is the nice balance of seriousness and irreverence they bring to their tasks.

“We are passionate about what we do, but I think we’ve got it in perspective,” Whitaker says.

“Let’s put it this way,” Winter says. “We’re going in and sorting out very lucky people who happen to have the privilege of owning a house. The money to do it up. And we’re making it pretty. It’s all very First World problems. So what we do is not important in the overall scheme of things. But it can be really important to those individuals.”

As the title suggests, the premise of the show is that a couple can’t decide whether to sell their unsatisfactory home (list it), or renovate it (love it). Enter real estate agent Winter and designer Whitaker, who compete to persuade the couple to their way of thinking. Winter takes them house hunting. Whitaker oversees a renovation.

And while there’s definitely a pantomime element to the rivalry between the two, Whitaker says there must also be a sense of genuine jeopardy. “People can’t be just wanting a reno. They must be in genuine disagreement about whether to fix up or move on.”

Behind the scenes, there was also genuine jeopardy around whether season four would be made at all. The chaps spent 12 months as COVID-19 fugitives, criss-crossing borders, trying to keep one step ahead of lockdowns. There were shortages of building supplies, limited access to trades, and lots of video conferencing.

“One state would be off limits but everywhere else you could sort of tick along,” Winter says. “Then somewhere else would shut down, somewhere would open up, and we’d head over there. Things got very broken up, but we were able to carry on.” For one poor family in Perth it was 12 months before the start of shooting – the start of their reno – and its conclusion.

“I have to take my hat off to the production team who held everything together over those 12 months,” Whitaker says. “They must have been tearing their hair out. And our home-owners were an amazing bunch. It was frustrating for them too.” And when we spoke, the frustrations continued – both gentlemen were in lockdown, Winter in Sydney and Whitaker in Berry.

None of that is evident in the final product, however, where the breezy tone that makes watching the show such a pleasure remains its defining characteristic. “We’re living in very interesting times!” Winter says. “But to make yourself nice and calm and relaxed you really need to watch season four of Love It or List It Australia.” He wouldn’t be a real estate salesman, would he?

Love It or List It Australia airs Wednesday 8.30pm, Lifestyle, Foxtel On Demand.

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