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The Block

EXCLUSIVE: Inside the biggest cheating scandal to ever rock The Block

Josh and Luke are caught out in this week's explosive episodes.

By Scott Ellis
For weeks, rumours have been circling The Block that a cheating scandal was on its way.
Hints were dropped that some teams might have been getting more help than they should, that rules were being ignored or that that some might even be blatantly copying others.
But exactly what had happened remained a mystery – until last week's judging of the master bedrooms, where Sydney twins Josh and Luke had a surprise victory, and Perth All Stars Ronnie and Georgia finally dropped the bomb.
"Josh and Luke won," Ronnie said of twins' first victory of the season.
"It helps to cheat!"
Josh and Luke face some serious accusations on The Block this week. Image: Nine Network
As Georgia pleaded, "Don't go there! Don't go there!" Ronnie went on the attack, claiming the brothers had somehow obtained a copy of The Block's production schedule and had known what rooms were coming up and when challenge days were planned.
"They've known from day one!" he said. "I know [that] for a fact."
And having that knowledge, Ronnie, 45, tells TV WEEK, would give any contestant a clear advantage.
"It makes it an unfair competition," he says. "For 12 weeks, you're renovating rooms and trying to win money to do it.
"You need to win rooms to complete The Block to a really high standard, so by having a schedule, you can plan ahead. For example, if you know a bathroom week is coming up, you can speak to designers, to an architect, get ideas and order materials and trades.
"Knowing that someone had the full schedule… is just a complete p---take!"
Tensions flare as Ronnie accuses the boys of cheating. Image: Nine Network
Finding out whether Josh and Luke did cheat – or if perhaps another team might be behind the scandal and has been keeping a low profile – will play out over the rest of this week of The Block.
But the repercussions of Ronnie's assertions blew up immediately.
"We had to ask ourselves, 'How do we continue the show?" host Scott Cam, 58, tells TV WEEK.
"If we suspect someone has our production schedule, we have to change it to keep things fair… and that's a serious undertaking.
"Changing two months worth of that schedule impacts deliveries of kitchens, laundries, cabinets, Gyprock, timber, roofing, everything. It was a logistical nightmare, but it had to be done."
The Block is thrown into chaos by the accusations. Image: Nine Network
For the contestants, knowing that someone might have been cheating was equally troubling. It ripped apart friendships and sent tempers through the roof.
When the Blockheads call a body corporate this week to discuss an upcoming building problem, tensions quickly reach boiling point, until the teams degenerate into yelling abuse.
"You disgusting, ignorant, young piece of filth!" Mitch says to the twins when emotions erupt.
"You rude, rich, snob!" Josh fires back.
"It was disgusting!" Ronnie says. "The language, the behaviour – we couldn't believe it. That was the moment where The Block completely divided."
Harsh words are exchanged when the cheating scandal is revealed. Image: Nine Network
And still to come is what punishment The Block host Scott imposes on any team he believes has not abided by the rules of the competition.
"At the very least they should be stripped of any points and money they won," Ronnie declares.
"Whether that's severe enough or not, I don't know," Scott adds.
For any television series, the production schedule is the most important document there is. Worked out months before the cameras roll, it's a complex breakdown of what resources, crew and budget need at every point of the project. So to change it mid-shoot is unthinkable.
But for Julian Cress, the executive producer of The Block, there was no other choice.
"There were whispers around the set in the first couple of weeks that somebody may have known which rooms were coming up," Julian tells TV WEEK.
Will the boys be found guilty? Image: Nine Network
"We were all praying that wasn't the case, because our production schedule is set months in advance and it's extremely difficult to alter that schedule… it's potentially disastrous.
"But we can't have a situation where one, or maybe two, teams know the room-reveal schedule and the others don't. That's just simply unfair. There are two things on The Block that are more important than anything else: safety and fairness.
"Maintaining both those things is basically our job, so if somebody is gaining an unfair advantage, we have to move really quickly to make sure the game remains fair."
The Block airs Monday to Wednesday, 7.30pm, and Sunday, 7pm, on Nine Network.

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