Scott Cam delivers The Block’s toughest blow yet
The cash crisis affecting this season of The Block has worsened, with host Scott Cam and Shelley Craft delivering a brutal reality check to contestants during Wednesday night's episode.
Three of the five teams have a little more than $70,000 each left - enough to last just a couple more weeks, and nowhere near enough to fit out the remainder of their homes in luxury. They now face the very real possibility that only two of the five homes will even go to auction.
First, the good news: Mitch and Mark, winners of several of the show's Savvy Saver prizes for their smart budgeting, have "double" the cash of most of the other contestants.
"I am relying on you and Mitch to finish. You're my only hope," Cam tells Mark. "Because if no one finishes The Block, then it was never possible, I've set too big a target, and I'm an idiot to all the folks at home. You have to finish this Block!"
Jesse and Mel are the only other team not "struggling" cash-wise.
"You know how this rolls out: The two teams that actually have enough money left to play the game will start winning all the rooms, so they get more money," Craft tells them.
"Their houses end up being spectacular because they've got bigger winnings coming in. We've got two great houses going to auction, which is all we need to finish the game."
Cam and Craft's visits to the other three houses are a lot less cheerful.
When budget issues emerged earlier in the game, Cam had given contestants a couple of generous cash handouts to top up their initial $250,000 reno budgets - but his generosity has its limits.
"I've emptied the coffers. My boss at Channel 9 is giving me no more money. I'm over budget. We will flog these houses unfinished," he tells them.
"What we have to do is get this house to auction day, and for that we need an occupation certificate. We need you to budget what the remainder of the plastering is going to cost because if we're not at lockup, we can't take this to auction, and you have zero chance of earning any money for the time that you've been here," Craft tells the contestants.
Cairns couple Tess and Luke - often last placegetters through the competition - admit they're "crushed" to realise they'll have to hand over a "shell" of a house if they want to scrape to the finish.
"It's embarrassing to hand over a house that looks like sh*t. It's not why we came here," says Tess.
"At least Australia will have a good laugh. It's good that we gave up a lot to be here, just to make dicks of ourselves on national TV. That's what we've really come for, so we're stoked - it's worked out perfectly," says Luke, clearly fuming.