TV

Is Married At First Sight fake? Ex contestants reveal what really goes on behind the scenes

From producers encouraging drama to contestants having to say lines again for the camera, ex MAFS grooms Jono Pitman and John Robertson dish the dirt.

The latest season of Married At First Sight has certainly been entertaining. From full-blown affairs to zero chemistry, the participants have given us all plenty to talk about over the past six weeks.

But just how much of MAFS was real, and how much was clever editing? Was it just plain scripted?

TV WEEK in Australia spoke to former MAFS villain Jono Pitman, 30, who appeared in the 2016 season, and this year's comeback groom John Robertson, 54, to get the scoop on what really went on behind-the-scenes.

The TV experts hardly help

"The guy [psychologist] I spoke to during my season was awesome," Jono reveals.

"And he listened to what I had to say and what I was feeling. He helped me through some dark times and was the polar opposite of the relationship experts the show used."

The experts Mel Schilling, Trisha Stratford and John Aiken are used on screen, but there are other psychologists to help the contestants behind the scenes.
The experts Mel Schilling, Trisha Stratford and John Aiken are used on screen, but there are other psychologists to help the contestants behind the scenes.

Contestants and experts don’t mingle

According to Jono, the couples and relationship experts rarely talk.

"I spent at most half a day with John, one-on-one," he says of relationship expert John Aiken.

Jono and his on-screen wife Clare Verrall were doomed from the start.
Jono and his on-screen wife Clare Verrall were doomed from the start.

Dates are timed

According to John, participants often want to stay longer on their dates, but they're restricted by time.

John and Melissa spent a lot of time visiting wineries on their dates.
John and Melissa spent a lot of time visiting wineries on their dates.

Cameras follow their every move

You can run, but you can't hide.

"They tried to constantly film me," Jono says. "If I didn't want to be on camera, I'd switch off my mic. They'd [the producers] tell me to turn it back on."

Jono struggled with constantly being filmed.
Jono struggled with constantly being filmed.

Drinks flow free

At the dinner parties, the drinks are endlessly flowing.

"You're full of booze," Jono recalls. "There are endless drinks available, and there's not much food on offer. But the esky was always full."

The dinner parties continue well into the night, with plenty of drink on offer.
The dinner parties continue well into the night, with plenty of drink on offer.

Filming goes for hours

Jono says filming the dinner parties can sometimes go into the early hours of the morning.

"They last for hours," he reveals. "Conversations get out of hand."

Footage is recycled

Sometimes old footage is reused.

"One time, the camera crew didn't want to film us getting up at 4am," John reveals. "So they used some old footage of me instead."

Not all of the footage was 'fresh.'
Not all of the footage was 'fresh.'

Drama is encouraged

This season, it was all about the D words – Dean, Davina and drama. But Jono says not all is as it seems.

"Dean and Davina would've been encouraged to go for it," he says. "I felt bad for them."

Revealing what happens behind the scenes, he adds: "They would've been encouraged by producers and producers would've helped set it up."

Davina and Dean's cheating scandal was pure TV gold, but was it too perfect?
Davina and Dean's cheating scandal was pure TV gold, but was it too perfect?

Scenes are scripted

According to Jono, the producers make participants repeat their lines until they're happy with how it sounds.

"They're always fishing for one-liners," he explains. "My famous line was, 'She wasn't what I ordered' when my partner, Clare, was walking down the aisle.

"They got me to say it a thousand different times."

Not all participants apply for the show

Future contestants needn't apply – Jono and this season's Ryan were both headhunted for the series.

"I was hit-up at a footy game on a Sunday," Jono says.

"I said no, but took the producer's card. Then they called me when I was at the pub and was convinced it was a good idea!"

The marriages aren't legally binding

Unlike the New Zealand version of the series, the marriages in Australia are just for show.

As a network representative in Australia explains, "In order to comply with the Australian Marriage Act (1961) which requires one month and one day notification, a marriage in law was not conducted."

"Each participant embarked on a commitment ceremony with a wedding celebrant with all due intention to commit fully to this union for the duration of the experiment."