Kruger ready to tackle new housemates

A storm is brewing - but not the kind that will rip roofs off houses or leave a path of destruction in its wake.

Instead the said storm has been used to describe the 11th season of Big Brother Australia, which is set to unleash some world-first twists within the confines of the newly revamped compound at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast.

Fuelling the "storm" will be this year's housemates, who have been dubbed the most opinionated bunch the show has seen since its revival by Nine in 2012.

And while viewers have heard it all before - last year's promos teased that 2013 would introduce the "biggest twists" in Big Brother Australia history - host and now mother-to-be Sonia Kruger insists there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the show this season, one being the house itself.

"The house itself is two-storey," the 49-year-old explains. "They really kind of gutted it and started again. It's a big job every time they do it. And it's got a bit of a Scarface, retro Miami 70s vibe. I think it's quite a sexy house.

"And there's a tree house as well. I'm not quite sure what's going to go on in the tree house, monkey business no doubt, but the fact that the house is two-storey is interesting to me because we've never had that before."

While the show's overall format remains the same - a group of strangers is locked away in a house for up to three months, completely shut away from the outside world while under surveillance 24/7 - this year there is the addition of a game- changing tactic that will see one housemate given an all-encompassing power that could make or break the vibes in the house.

"The housemate power is going to be really interesting, because if you give one housemate ultimate power and it falls in the wrong hands, it could be chaos," Kruger says. "So it's a cool twist, I like that we're doing it this year."

WA has long provided intriguing housemates and 2014 is no exception.

This week it was announced two housemates will fly the flag for WA - Mandurah magician/apprentice electrician Lawson Reeves, 23, and "abnormally tall" Perth nurse Gemma Kinghorn, 29.

The duo will join the likes of an egotistical "gym junkie" and a self-proclaimed narcissist who have appeared in the show's TV promos ahead of the launch.

Big Brother executive producer Alex Mavroidakis hopes this colourful mix of personalities will create some "explosive" moments in the house from day one.

"We have picked a really diverse bunch of people this year," Mavroidakis says. "We have picked people who are going to give us the best chance of human soap opera.

"The way that we are doing the show this year is by giving them massive decisions to make right from the first moment. Rather than having them settle in for a week, there is no settling-in period.

"We're looking for an explosive first three or four nights."

Mavroidakis adds that having the show on air six nights a week will give viewers more time to engage with the housemates, which will be pivotal given viewers will have an unprecedented control that extends beyond their "vote to save" eviction power.

"It's the way I've always thought it should be," Mavroidakis says. "It is essentially a soap opera and in order to really hook (viewers) in and know what's going on all the time, you need it on six nights a week."

While the later 8.40pm timeslot allows producers to turn up the heat in terms of adult content, Mavroidakis is confident the show will remain family friendly.

"It will be a more grown-up show in terms of the content but we still have the PG restriction, we don't want to lose the kids," he says. "We've worked very, very hard over the last two years to make Big Brother a safe place to watch again. So we absolutely want to retain our loyal audiences.

"Now we have reminded people that Big Brother is a good show, we can lift the bar a bit more with some very, very big characters."

With the show on air for close to three months, Kruger - who announced last month she is expecting her first child with partner and TV exec Craig McPherson - is conscious of her pregnancy playing out on national television.

By the time the 11th season wraps, she will be seven months pregnant.

"I'll be growing, it'll be so weird," she laughs. "I've seen other friends who've done (TV) programs and been pregnant, and I've enjoyed tuning in to see them bloom."

Speaking of her eye-catching outfits which have often become a talking point on the show, the bubbly Mornings host admits she's feeling a bit nervous having to accommodate her growing baby belly.

"The wardrobe thing is probably going to present the biggest dilemma," Kruger laughs. "Hopefully it will all come together and people will like it."

Big Brother airs from Monday to Thursday at 8.40pm, Friday at 8pm, then Sunday at 9pm, on Nine/WIN.

The West Australian

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