Reality TV

MAFS’ Bryce Ruthven and Melissa Rawson slam cruel radio prank designed to ruin their relationship

The hurtful gag comes just weeks after they brought their premature twin sons home from hospital.
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Trigger warning: This article contains mentions of suicide that may be upsetting to some readers.

Bryce Ruthven and Melissa Rawson have hit out at a Melbourne radio station after the couple were targeted in a “hurtful” on-air prank.

The couple, who met on Married At First Sight and recently welcomed premature twin boys, said the prank was “tasteless” and put their relationship at risk just to “cause a stir” for radio listeners.

Taking to Instagram on Monday night, Bryce addressed the situation with a lengthy post on Instagram detailing the prank, which he attributed to KIIS 101.1’s Jase & Lauren In The Morning.

The 32-year-old father claimed that flowers arrived at his and Melissa’s home last week, addressed to him from a secret admirer.

Bryce Ruthven and Melissa Rawson recently welcomed premature twin boys, Levi and Tate.

(Image: Instagram)

Photos posted to both of their social media pages showed a bouquet of colourful blooms with a note that read: “Hey Bryce. Just wanted to say I’ve loved working with you.

“I know there’s a spark there, I hope you feel it too. Love, your secret admirer,’ followed by a phone number.”

Melissa was the one who arrived home first to discover the flowers, leaving the new mum shocked and “hurt” at how her relationship was being so obviously disrespected.

She immediately called Bryce, who had no clue where the flowers had come from, but after reaching out to the florist they discovered a producer from KIIS 101.1’s Jase & Lauren In The Morning had ordered them.

The couple put two and two together and realised the cruel “gag” must have been part of an upcoming Valentine’s Day segment, their suspicions confirmed when Bryce received a call from the show on Monday.

“It was one of [the show’s] breakfast hosts asking if I had received a bunch of flowers. The phone call was recorded and played on their radio show this morning,” he wrote on Instagram.

“Having been involved in breakfast radio shows myself, and for the sake of the content they were clearly after, I said yes I did receive some flowers.

“[They] then proceeded to have a laugh at the situation, and about the way Liss took the surprise flowers as part of the radio stunt… asking ‘did it cause a few issues, etc.'”

The flowers arrived with a note from a “secret admirer”.

(Image: Instagram)

Hosts Lauren Phillips and Jason ‘Jase’ Hawkins confirmed on the radio show that they had sent flowers to a number of celebrities for the segment, including Karl Stefanovic and Dylan Alcott, though none of them picked up their calls.

“We weren’t in the game of splitting up relationships, we were supposed to be adding a little love to Valentine’s Day,” Lauren said on-air, the presenters admitting the gag “backfired”.

Bryce told them on air: “It didn’t go down too well with two new parents who are going through some stuff with two newborn twins, I’m not going to lie.” He gave permission for the phone call to air.

The stunt had a painful effect on Melissa, who shared her own response to the gag on her page where she usually posts updates on premature twins Levi and Tate.

“As a new mummy to preemie twins already so physically self conscious about my looks and body, completely exhausted and vulnerable – I really don’t think they thought how this could affect me or what could have happened if we as a couple did not know and trust each other so wholeheartedly,” she said in a raw video.

WATCH: Bryce and Melissa test their sons for COVID-19 in hospital. Story continues after video.

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“This was not a joke to bring ‘a little love…’ into our lives. This was intended to create a stir for radio and it was hurtful to me.”

Melissa conceded that starring on MAFS opened her and her relationship with Bryce up to public scrutiny but made it clear that she was tired of having their partnership so blatantly disrespected.

Having been open about her own mental and emotional struggles in the past, Melissa pointed out that a stunt like this could cause someone in a vulnerable place to go down a dark path.

“I thought the joke was quite tasteless and could’ve done potential harm not only to our relationship (one that is full of love, happiness, challenges and growth) but also to my own self esteem and to our new family unit,” she said.

The couple made it clear how they felt about the prank.

(Image: Instagram)

Meanwhile, Bryce noted that radio “pranks” like this one can and do cause irreversible damage, referencing a devastating royal radio prank from 2012.

“For the hosts and their show producers it’s all a joke, but to then celebrate the fact that they may have ’caused a few issues’ for us is actually disgusting,” he penned.

“Maybe some radio announcers need a reminder of the royal prank phone call and how that resulted for the person on the end of that radio stunt?”

He was referring to a disastrous radio gag in which Mel Greig and Mike Christian, while hosting the Hot30 Countdown show on 2Day FM, made a call to the hospital where Kate Middleton had just given birth and pretended to be the Queen and Prince Philip.

The nurse who answered the call, Jacintha Saldanha, was duped by the prank which went on to make headlines around the world. Soon after, she died by suicide.

Mel commented on Bryce’s post, however the comments no longer appear on Instagram.

(Image: Instagram)

2Day FM rejected any blame for Ms Saldanha’s death while Mel has been open about the cruel trolling she received in the wake of the prank and went on to champion anti-bullying campaigns.

She was unhappy with Bryce bringing the horrifying prank back into the spotlight, writing in since-deleted comments that she didn’t see why he had to bring the “tragedy and trauma” back into the spotlight.

“As my friend he should not have brought my trauma and the tragedy of others into their situation,” she wrote.

“The prank call does not compare to this … there was no need to bring me into their pain. I have my own pain.”

Hosts Lauren and Jason went on to address their controversial prank on-air on Wednesday morning, saying that it was a “social experiment” aimed at 10 celebrities but it “didn’t exactly go to plan”.

“To be honest I thought it was all cleared up then and that’s why we had him on, but since then Melissa has taken to social media,” Jason said, referring to her upset Instagram video.

“In hindsight, bad timing. I’ve got a 20 day old baby at home and if I had flowers rock up [my partner] would probably kill me with them if they were signed from a secret admirer.”

The radio duo apologised for upsetting Melissa and said they “probably should have targeted a different MAFS person”.

If you or someone you know has been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, help is always available. Call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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