TV

The highs and lows of 2018 have made The Living Room stars closer than ever

“The planets aligned – we’ve all hanged each other’s lives”

By TV Week team
Since 2012, Australian families have gathered around the TV on a Friday night to enjoy the laughter and banter between the four hosts of The Living Room: Dr Chris Brown, Miguel Maestre, Amanda Keller and Barry Du Bois.
Their energy and humour has been key to their success – and earnt them four consecutive TV WEEK Logie Awards for Best Lifestyle Program. From the outset, they had struck gold.
During an exclusive photo shoot with TV WEEK, Barry, 58, reveals how they spend just as much time together away from the show as they do on it.
"We're all very different, but we have an incredible bond," he says.
As a result, the group have formed a friendship that translates to the audience.
"I've been on shows that sound good, but could have gone the other way," Amanda, 56, says.
"So I'm lucky that the planets aligned for it to be this. By having the couch and us all in there, interacting together, that's our point of difference. We've all changed each other's lives."
Fun is never far away when (from left) Chris, Miguel, Amanda and Barry get together.
But among their success, the foursome has endured a heart-wrenching battle. In October 2017, Barry announced – on air – that his cancer had returned after six years in remission. He'd been diagnosed with plasmacytoma myeloma in 2011.
His co-stars were understandably devastated, but rallied around.
"I love every second I spend with these guys," the father-of-two says. "When you have close friends around you, you feel empowered. And there's no doubt Amanda, Chris and Miguel empower me."
After undergoing chemotherapy, Barry returned to The Living Room sofa in March. He says he now likes to "live every day like it's my last", but the diagnosis served as a wake-up call for those around him.
After his cancer treatment, Barry made a joyful return to the show in March.
"What I found incredible is that it transformed us from being just friends to family," Chris, 40, says.
"It reminded us that no matter what situation, these guys are right here. We're such a big part of each other's lives."
Miguel, 39, adds that it was "a big test of our friendship".
"In those moments, you find out who your best friends are," he says. "We were very scared when Barry gave us his news, but it made us stronger than before. It's made us look at life in a different way."
Mates Miguel, Barry and Chris find out who rules at pool.
No-one could have predicted how well the cast would get on when The Living Room first hit screens in 2012 – not even the stars themselves.
"You know, when I first met Miguel I seriously thought, 'How do I handle this guy?'" Amanda, 56, says with a laugh.
"He was unlike anybody I'd met, but now he's one of my best friends in the universe. He's the real deal – none of it is exaggerated. He'd fight to the death for me; I can't imagine a life without him."
Amanda calls her time on The Living Room "a fabulous ride".
The show's success begs the question: how much longer does The Living Room have left? And would the format work if somebody left?
"It wouldn't be The Living Room without the four of us," Miguel says.
"You can't manufacture friendship. You can put 100 people together, but if they don't like each other, they don't like each other."
On set or off, Miguel is a live wire.
The foursome is as attached to making it as the audience are to watching it.
"I have this vision that one day we'll all be in a nursing home doing The Living Room in our own time," Chris says wryly.
"We'll have been off air for 20 years, but we'll just get together every Friday night and talk. Barry will be telling stories that never really end, but we won't notice. It's therapeutic for us.
"So many people I run into tell me The Living Room is their guilty pleasure!"
Chris says the quartet are more family than friends.
The Living Room airs Friday, November 30, 7.30pm, 10

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