It's always a challenge trying to keep a show fresh coming into it's 8th season. The Block NZ hasn't shaken things up too much in the past - until now, that is.
The decision to bring back last season's winners Amy Moore and Stu Watts to renovate the family bathroom in the empty apartment 5 has been a controversial one with fans and contestants alike.
When the twist was first teased before Monday night's episode, it was hyped as making The Block NZ history. In host Mark Richardson's words, "The Block has just been turned on its head." So when Amy and Stu made their triumphant return, well, some of the contestants didn't know what to make of it.
Stacy and Adam couldn't hide their true feelings as they slow clapped the past winners' arrival. And let's face it - it's a pretty intimidating prospect for the current teams, going up against seasoned renovators.
"I'm not excited. Because we won't win, we can't," Stacy whispered to Adam following the announcement.
"Far out, how can we compete with that," lamented Ethan and Sam, "we can't even get more than four for a kids room."
For Amy and Stu who won $169,000 last year, returning was "a no-brainer." This week they're up for $7,000 in prize money if they take out the win. Not bad for a week's work.
There were plenty of angry reactions to the announcement on the show's official Facebook page. Some described it as "not an even playing field" and they've got a point. How can putting up a winning couple, one who produced the highest scoring bathroom in The Block NZ history with a perfect 20 out of 20, be fair to a bunch of newbies who are facing their first bathroom renovation on the show?
"The first bathroom is a real learning curve," admits Amy. And with some of the couples facing the prospect of not finishing this week, she's hit the nail on the head, to use an awful building pun.
It hasn't all been negative though, with plenty of fans thrilled to see Amy and Stu return. And Ethan and Sam have certainly benefited, being lucky enough to receive styling advice from Amy.
For Amy and Stu's part, choosing to return to a show and open themselves up to public criticism again was a brave decision. Before their appearance on the show was announced, Amy took to Facebook to plea for the public to be kind to the current contestants.
"Am really enjoying this season and all the teams but something I am NOT enjoying is reading all the comments people think they are entitled to write about them on social media," she wrote.
"These are 8 normal people. People who have left behind their families and their friends, people who have put themselves out there to do something different, people that have real feelings, real emotions and the ability to read everything negative thing that gets written about them without any opportunity to respond! I've done this! I've been there! And it is so hard and can be so damaging!
"Stu and I had so much support but we also had to deal with so much more! Please think before you post. The teams see everything and The Block is emotionally taxing enough without social bullying on top it it! Let's cheer them on, not drag them down!"
Of all the social media comments both for and against the show's twist, the best, in our opinion, was from one top fan who, when speculation was rife as to who the intruder team would be, offered "It's Phil Twyford and Megan Wood as they are looking for builders for Kiwi build."
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