Reality TV

EXCLUSIVE: Why Reggie Bird’s degenerative eye condition meant this was her last chance to return to Big Brother

''I’m still the same old straight-shooter Reg.''
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Who could forget the adorable Reggie Bird, the small-town Tassie lass from the local fish and chip shop who won over an entire nation with her charm and no-nonsense attitude on season three of Big Brother Australia in 2003?

Fast forward and the little Aussie battler, who famously secured a whopping 72 per cent of the final vote and $250,000 in prize money, is ready to do it all over again!

With the reality TV franchise celebrating its 21st birthday this year, Seven’s new series sees a bunch of old favourites from previous seasons up against a line-up of sassy newcomers.

And the question on everyone’s lips is can the now single mum-of-two become the first person in BB history to win the title twice?

Reggie with her son at the park.

(Image: Tertius Pickard)

“I’m still the same old straight-shooter Reg, and yes, I may be 20 years older, but thankfully, I’m a whole lot wiser these days!” she tells Woman’s Day.

“Winning for a second time would be a dream come true. There have been lots of ups and downs, and I’ve made plenty of mistakes over the years – but geez, who hasn’t!

“My two greatest achievements in my life are my gorgeous kids – Mia, who just turned 15, and young Lucas, who is 12,” she says proudly.

“Winning for a second time would be a dream come true.”

(Image: Tertius Pickard)

“They’re real little characters! I wake up every morning, regardless of what’s going on, with a smile on my face. What else could I hope for?”

Renowned for her resilience, even Reggie admits she was tested when just a year after winning Big Brother, her whole world came crashing down. Diagnosed with degenerative eye condition retinitis pigmentosa, she is now legally blind, and sadly will one day lose her sight permanently.

“When Seven asked me to enter the BB house again, I couldn’t turn it down,” she says.

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“With my eyesight deteriorating at the pace it was, I decided it’s now or never. The kids convinced me – they’re very persuasive!”

And the setbacks didn’t stop there.

When little Lucas was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF) at four weeks old, Reggie knew she had to give her boy the best life possible.

Lobbying with other CF families, she finally received some good news last month after the life-saving drug Trikafta was approved on the PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme).

Can Reggie win Big Brother twice?

(Image: Seven)

“I don’t normally politicise, but the outgoing Health Minister Greg Hunt worked so hard for our community – and we won! The drug that once cost CF families a staggering $250,000 a year is now an affordable $6.80 a script,” Reggie explains. “Lucas is a champion, and despite being a very sick little boy, he just kept on battling through the pain.

“He’s discovered basketball, and he’s really good! He wants to be the first CF sufferer to play for the Boomers – he’s incredibly determined!”

Heading back into the BB house after two decades, the Tassie native, not normally coy, remains very tight-lipped about what she’s expecting this time around.

“He wants to be the first CF sufferer to play for the Boomers.”

(Image: Seven)

“Everyone will just have to wait and see,” she teases. “But I seriously couldn’t believe the house – flash carpet and a dishwasher! You have to remember, there weren’t any challenges in our day, so knowing how clumsy I am, get ready for plenty of spills!” she says with her trademark grin.

Big Brother will always run through my veins, and this time around, it’s all about the kids.

“Before I go blind, I want to make sure they’re going to be safe and secure, because in the end, if your children are healthy and happy, then everything else in the world is OK.”

Big Brother Mon-Thurs, 7.30pm, Seven & 7plus.

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