Adrian Swift on the Kate and Cam show, plus what lured him back to Nine
Nine’s head of content, production and development Adrian Swift is clear about the simple proposition the new show Unreal Estate is putting to viewers. “It’s real estate porn,” he told Mediaweek with a chuckle.
The show launched on Tuesday nights this week, programmed after The Block.
As to where the idea came from, Swift added with a grin: “From reading The Wentworth Courier.” That is the weekly Sydney eastern suburbs suburban which features all the prestige properties for sale in the area.
“I came back to Nine because an old friend asked me to come back, not because I was unhappy at the ABC”
“In actual fact, one of our team was reading something online about amazing houses. He did half a day’s research and then came in and said he had found the most amazing houses, which had never been on television.
“The second impetus was after some ringing around we found that the owners were happy to talk about it. Frankly we didn’t want an estate agent showing us around – it needed to be the owner telling the story.” Swift noted that if they hadn’t been able to get the owners for some of the best properties to talk about their homes, the series would probably not have been made.
The show is not unlike some previously hosted on Nine by Deborah Hutton. She fronted programs like Location, Location and then Amazing Homes on Nine on Sunday nights with massive audiences in the late 90s.
“The approach of Unreal Estate is to be slightly incredulous,” said Swift. “Our hosts don’t go in and say, ‘What an amazing home.’ We go in and ask questions about the finishes or how various things were chosen. The show has everything from Madam Lash’s beach bungalow at Palm Beach to the Swifts mansion in Darling Point, to the Daintree, to Geelong and across to Bunbury. The best thing about this is that viewers haven’t heard these stories. This isn’t a rehash of previous programs.”
Swift is no relation to the Swifts gothic revival grand residence of Darling Point, although Adrian Swift joked he liked to be photographed in front of the mansion which he then describes as the ancestral home.
Unreal Estate is a Nine internal production with Trent Chapman the EP.
The show doesn’t have the scope of something like Grand Designs Australia, but Swift pointed out: “We still have some wonderful people featured in our series. The people who live in the homes in Unreal Estate are fundamentally interesting. I would describe this series as post-Grand Designs.”
Each episode runs for 60 minutes and makes great sense for viewers of The Block who might want to stay with Nine to see some finished properties. After its run on the primary channel there is then a readymade Australian real estate program perfect for Nine’s 9Life channel.
Swift returns to Nine: Take 4
“This is my fourth time back,” explained the TV executive. “I know everyone and everyone knows me. The culture here is a good culture. Hugh Marks and I have been friends since childhood and well before either of us worked at Nine.
“I love the culture of the place, an old friend is the CEO and we are now in the middle of a fairly significant ratings turnaround… late in life it rarely gets better than that.”
Swift was in his first role at the ABC before returning to Nine. Earlier in his career he spent two tours of duty working at SBS.
We asked Swift if it was a little more relaxing at the ABC every morning at 9am than it is at Nine. “They don’t have the same commercial pressures that other broadcasters do. There are brilliant people there – some of them include Jon Casimir [entertainment], Mandy Chang [arts], Steve Bibb [factual], Sally Reilly [indigenous] and Rick Kalowski [comedy]. The structure at the ABC is a bit moribund, but the people and most of the shows were amongst the most fun I have ever had in television. They are really good television people by any measure. I thought it was a privilege to work at the ABC.
“I came back to Nine because an old friend asked me to come back, not because I was unhappy at the ABC. I could have happily stayed at the ABC.”
As to the different management styles at Nine under two chief executives, Swift explained: “The good thing about working under David Gyngell was it was organic and you could make decisions quickly. The good thing about Hugh is that a bit of structure is not a bad thing.”
Swift and the team are lining up all the new programs to boost their start to 2017. “We will be very strong out of the gate next year. With the best programming minds and the best will, you never truly know. But at this point as I look at our schedule for 2017 I am really looking forward to how Australia reacts to it because it is as good as we have ever had.”