Reality TV

Re-casting, re-shooting and strict new measures: All the ways Channel 10 might save this season of The Bachelor

It's not coming up roses but we've come up with some contingency plans for our beloved show, The Bachelor.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has robbed us of many of life’s simple joys – hugging a friend, attending a wedding, enjoying a meal at the pub, building sandcastles on the beach… The list goes on.

But perhaps the biggest (and yes, one hundred per cent trivial) loss we’re grieving is a world without The Bachelor.

As a nation, we take our reality TV very seriously and The Bachelor is the pinnacle of our shared obsession.

But this year when the show was just three weeks into filming with controversial new Bachelor and former Survivor star Locky Gilbert at the helm, production came to a screeching halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Channel 10 announced the news in a statement at the end of March, revealing the tough decision was made to protect the safety of its cast and crew.

“Network 10 and Warner Bros. have decided to suspend production of the new season of The Bachelor Australia,” Ten’s statement read.

“Although we have been employing extra precautions on set for some time, it is no longer practical to continue with production.”

“The health and safety of our participants and crew members is our number one priority. These are extremely difficult times for all Australians and for our industry, and the full extent of those difficulties will not be known for some time to come.”

The network said the “disappointing” decision to halt production was made “after considering all available options”, and said production on the show will resume when it is “safe to do so.”

Almost a month later and there’s been no official word if production will resume anytime soon.

“We’re on hiatus. I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Osher has said.

(Image: Channel 10)

Meanwhile, the show’s host Osher Gunsberg recently revealed they were still on hiatus.

“We’re on hiatus. I don’t know what’s going to happen and I don’t think they do either but I’m sure there are people who are far more clever than I am, trying to figure out what we’re going to do. I think it’s like anyone in any work place – I’ve never in my career grappled with anything like it,” Osher told journalists Michelle Andrews and Zara McDonald during an interview for their Shameless: In Isolation series.

This season has already been rocked with scandal before it even started filming with many avid Bachie fans up in arms over the controversial casting of Survivor star Locky, who apparently forgot to tell his then-girlfriend Brooke Jowett he’d accepted the gig to date over 20 women at once.

So, how exactly will Channel 10 handle this unprecedented situation and will we ever get to see Locky Gilbert in his starring role as The Bachelor?

Scenario 1: Recast the female contestants

Perhaps the harshest of outcomes but depending on how long filming is on hold for, a lot can happen in that time.

Who’s to say the female contestants and Locky won’t move on, meet someone news or rekindle a past romance?

It would be impossible for producers to control this.

Usually during filming, the cast members adhere to a strict social media ban with very limited access to their phones. But it’s not like they can follow these rules indefinitely until filming resumes.

And now Locky has met all of his potential partners, he can easily stalk them on Insta and communicate with them in the outside world.

If producers want to keep Locky on board, they could recast his bachelorettes once filming resumes so it’s a fresh, level playing field.

As the weeks roll by, many of the female contestants – and even Locky himself – could move on with other love interests.

(Image: Channel 10)

It wouldn’t be the first time the franchise has had to recast.

Last month Chris Harrison, who hosts the US series of The Bachelorette, confirmed the latest season featuring Clare Crawley, which was also suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, would be recast.

“The chances are, for everybody to be able to put their life on hold and come back again is very slim. So yeah, we are still casting, so if you have somebody you think is great for this beautiful woman right here,” Chris revealed in an Instagram live.

Adding: “There will be some different guys. Maybe it’ll be completely different guys. Maybe it’ll be a mixture. Who knows? We really don’t know, with the way the world is right now, with everybody’s schedule.”

Meanwhile, Locky has already been linked to MAFS star Aleks Markovic after they were spotted hanging out together.

According to the Daily Mail, Locky accidentally appeared in the background of an Instagram Live interview between Aleks and socialite/boxer, Kyron Dryden.

The Bachelor quickly jumped out of the picture, but eagle-eyed fans had already managed a clear view of the reality star.

Talking to Kyle and Jackie O on their KIIS 106.5 radio show last month, Aleks denied the rumours she and Locky were romantically involved.

“I’m still filing my divorce papers!” Aleks joked.

“Locky was definitely not at my house, were just friends of a friend. Perth is very small.”

Season eight Bachelor Locky Gilbert was just three weeks into filming when the dating franchise had to stop production due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

(Image: Channel 10)

Scenario 2: Put on a showmance to end all showmances for the cameras

While three weeks in the real world isn’t nearly enough time to get to know someone, in the Bachelorverse, it’s the equivalent to three months.

Keep in mind, the show if filmed over 12 jam-packed weeks and in that time, contestants live in a pressure-cooker type fantasy land where the sole focus is on one person and one person only: Mr Bachelor.

Often those early first impressions and dates make a lasting impact – who could forget when Sam Wood’s first date winner Snezana Markoski ended up being his final pick and future wife.

So, hypothetically speaking, if Locky has indeed forged an unbreakable bond with someone and it stands the test of time, there could be two possible ways to troubleshoot this conundrum: scrap Locky and recruit a new Bachelor, which seems like double the work, or Locky and his chosen one could in theory, secretly date behind-the-scenes and then simply reenact their romance for the cameras.

Let’s not kid ourselves, there have been many scripted and manufactured moments on reality TV over the years!

WATCH BELOW: Matt and Chelsie release their first video together after the Bachelor finale. Post continues after video…

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Scenario 3: They film it in a socially-distanced setup

A revised format without any close physical contact could also be the trick to save season eight.

But who knows how that would impact ratings – no one wants to see a PG version of The Bachelor without any kissing or friskiness on dates, that’s half the fun of the show!

The Bachelor could take a note out of Netflix’s hit show, Love Is Blind, which sees singles date in sealed-off pods and eventually become engaged without ever coming face-to-face.

Imagine that, Locky would be forced to pick his lady over substance and personality, not looks. Now that would be a very unique selling point for the doomed season.

Most recently, Neighbours made history by becoming the first English-speaking show in the world to return to filming during the pandemic, rolling out strict new guidelines to help protect the cast and crew from a clustered outbreak on-set.

Instead of working the corona crisis into the plot, the show plans to isolate the cast and crew into three separate groups, there will never be more than three people in a scene and it will have a strict policy on no hand-holding or kissing scenes.

If the new production model works, many other local shows including The Bachelor could use this as a blueprint and return to filming.

Now To Love have reached out to Channel 10 for comment.

The Love Is Blind layout already caters for socially-distanced dating.

(Image: Netflix)

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