Reality TV

Producers pulling the strings? Investigating the REALity in The Bachelor Australia

“I’m not some puppet that’s being told what to do."
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Pilot Jimmy Nicholson’s season of The Bachelor Australia has officially taken flight and we are crossing all of our limbs for another success story.

But, as with all reality TV shows, particularly ones involving romance (we’re looking at you Married At First Sight), there have been claims as to whether or not the franchise is 100% authentic, or if the producers are pulling all the strings.

WATCH: A big fight sees one contestant sent home in first look at The Bachelor

Well, don’t worry, your reality TV detectives have been hard at work sleuthing the internet for any clues of fabrication; a bugged rose, an exposed actor, a bachelor caught rehearsing their lines… we’ve compiled them all, as well as the signs that the show is actually reality.

Scroll on down for our investigation, season by season and bachie by bachie, to find out whether or not The Bachelor is true love.  

Locky was accused of being a puppet. (Credit: Channel Ten)

Locky Gilbert | Season 8 | 2020

Despite finding authentic love with Irena Srbinovska, Locky Gilbert’s season of The Bachelor has still been accused of being highly produced.

One of the first contestants to leave the season, Nadine Kodsi, told Megan Pustetto’s So Dramatic! podcast that the bach was fed lines by Channel Ten producers via an earpiece, while also claiming that the show was rehearsed.

“He’s a puppet and I saw that from the first five minutes,” Nadine told the podcast. She claimed producers told him to tell her she was beautiful, as well as to ask her what she did and how she was feeling.

“I actually said to (Locky), ‘Can you not speak for yourself? Do you have to listen to what they’re saying to you?’”

At this point, apparently production stepped in telling the reality star she couldn’t talk about them and she would have to re-do the moment with Locky.

Former bachie Matty J, however, hit back at Nadine’s claims, shedding light on the real purpose of the earpieces.

“You’re not fed lines!” Matty assured on his podcast The Babble. “You do have an earpiece when you have things like the rose ceremony, but that’s only because you need to have contact with the director.”

He explained the line of communication was in case of emergencies like technical issues and, other than that, the producers do all they can to stay out of things.

“They try never to talk to you unless it’s critical, because they don’t want to have any impeding effect on it being free-flowing.”

Irena herself confirmed Matty’s claims during an Instagram Q&A in 2021. When a fan asked the former reality star if she had a script she had to follow while on the show, the bachie alum was quick to deny any claims of inauthenticity. 

“We don’t have a script,” she wrote, “We are not told what to say or to do or how to behave. This goes for the Bach too!”

Irena did then say if the contestants started covering topics not related to the show while the cameras were rolling, the producers would steer them back on course, but they were “never told what to say”.

As for the whole earpiece rumours, Irena clarified that while they are required, it is not so producers can “dictate conversation” but rather so they can give “directions about time, location of cameras, etc.”.

It has been alleged that producers had to step in to ensure Matt chose someone in the end. (Credit: Channel Ten)

Matt Agnew | Season 7 | 2019

Matt Agnew sadly didn’t find his fairytale ending on The Bachelor. Though he and chemical engineer Chelsie McLeod tried to make things work outside the bachie mansion, the pair only lasted three months before going their separate ways.

But following their split, a source told New Idea that the astrophysicist was close to ‘pulling a Honey Badger’ and picking no one – that is, before producers stepped in.

The source told us that Matt was contractually obliged to pick someone, following the PR nightmare of Nick Cummins’ failed love story.

“He wanted to choose no one but obviously it was in his contract that he has to choose someone, so producers pushed him to pick Chelsie because she was the safe bet,” the source explained.

“If it happened two years in a row, the whole franchise would be done. He was made to keep the act up and do the required media rounds with Chelsie until Angie’s (Kent) season (of The Bachelorette) had finished airing.”

Hmm, interesting.

Nick didn’t want to fake a romance after the show. (Credit: Channel Ten)

Nick Cummins | Season 6 | 2018

Mr Nick ‘I pick no one’ Cummins caused quite the stir during his season of The Bachelor. And, since leaving the show, the former AFL player has revealed that the reason he remained single was because he didn’t want to fake things on the outside.

Referencing a three-month contract that seemingly obliges the winning bachie couple to act head over heels for each other for that period of time, the Honey Badger explained to the ABC’s Radio National that he didn’t want to have to fake being in love.

“You’re not going to get your fairytale ending every time,” Nick told the ABC. “And what’s more important, me just saying ‘yes’ and going through the motions and dragging some girl through all this media about how we’re in love and then three months down the track after the contract’s over, um, we’re allowed to break up.

“I’m not going to drag them through that rubbish … and break her heart. Bugger that.”

We all remember Matty’s impassioned ‘I’m not a puppet’ speech. (Credit: Channel Ten)

Matty J | Season 5 | 2017

Matty J has been arguably the most vocal bachelor when it comes to assuring viewers that the show is not scripted.

As well as denying that fellow bachie Locky Gilbert was being fed lines by producers, we all remember when Matty halted a rose ceremony to give an impassioned speech about making his own choices.

“I’m not some puppet that’s being told what to do,” the bachelor told the women vying for his heart. “When I pick someone for a single date that’s because I pick them myself. When you receive a rose, it’s entirely my decision. There’s no one telling me what to do or when people need to leave. I’m here purely because I want to find someone, and I hope you can appreciate that.”

Despite this, an anonymous contestant from his season alleged to NW that the producers were still pulling some strings.

“He was struggling to make decisions at the rose ceremonies,” they told the magazine. “Especially having gone through The Bachelorette, he couldn’t bring himself to hurt the girls’ feelings, so he asked to be steered in the right direction.

The contestant added: “It was almost like he was being told what his opinions were. He’s very concerned with his image. Everything that comes out of his mouth is image conscious and measured. He wants Australia to believe he is the perfect gentleman.”

What to believe?

The winner of Richie’s season, Alex, has confessed she didn’t go on the show looking for love. (Credit: Channel Ten)

Richie Strahan | Season 4 | 2016

Richie’s reality romance with Alex Nation ended after approximately one year of dating. And while a lot of the dialogue about the franchise being fake centres around the producers stepping in, for this season, the artificial aspect in question revolves around the couple’s feelings for one another.

After winner Alex confessed that she didn’t go on the dating show to find love, eyebrows were raised everywhere.

“I’m going to be real with you and say I did not apply for the Bachelor to find love,” the mum wrote. “I applied because I’d just had my heart broken and thought what an experience this would be.”

However, though her intentions may not have been to fall in love, Alex confessed that, at the time, she did think she had fallen for Richie in some capacity.

“What we were in that moment was powerful and special and I was on cloud 9 and what we went through and experienced together was unique,” she wrote.

The ‘villain’ of Sam’s season revealed she didn’t trust any of the producers. (Credit: Channel Ten)

Sam Wood | Season 3 | 2015

Sam Wood was the first bachie success story since Tim Robards and viewers were so excited to see the personal trainer and Snezana Markoski start their life together, even if they were a little disappointed Sam had given Heather Maltman the flick.

But despite the pair’s adorable love story, a few contestants from season three have suggested that the producers meddled in their road to romance quite a bit.

The season’s resident ‘villain’ Emily Simms confessed she “didn’t trust” any of the producers, while also claiming that nothing on the show happened by accident.

Meanwhile, fellow contestant Sandra Rato also declared that while she got pegged as the “drunken, loud one” she actually doesn’t drink. However she also explained that, despite what some may believe, the producers don’t force anyone to consume alcohol.

“In my experience, obviously there is alcohol there, but you choose to drink it or not. It’s not forced on you,” Sandra revealed.

Blake Garvey claimed that he was not allowed the same access to his social media as his season’s winner, Sam Frost, was. (Credit: Channel Ten)

Blake Garvey | Season 2 | 2014

When Blake Garvey broke Sam Frost’s heart for runner-up Louise Pillidge, Australians everywhere grabbed their pitchforks and got ready to storm the bachie mansion.

However, the controversial reality star has since alleged that the way things played out after the finale were not how he wanted to handle things.

Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald, the real estate agent revealed that while Sam was allowed access to her social media accounts, apparently he was not afforded the same luxury.

“I saw that Sam tweeted something and so I asked if I could as well and they said, ‘Do not, don’t you dare’, because at that state they still had my accounts shut down. But they told me to trust them,” Blake told the publication, referring to the days following the finale.

He also claimed that it was Sam who instigated the break-up.

“What’s more likely, that I managed to somehow fool an army of producers, 31 women – one of them left sick on the first night so they pretended there were only 24 – and continually kept fooling the most switched-on woman I’ve ever met and her family, or was someone playing it up a bit?” Blake said.

“If I was that good an actor I wouldn’t be on that show. Right now I’d be getting psyched for my next Academy Award.”

Ali Oetjen from Tim’s season revealed the producers play a big part in the show. (Credit: Channel Ten)

Tim Robards | Season 1 | 2013

And, finally, our original bachie Tim Robards. He was the Aussie franchise’s first pick back in 2013. Surely the inaugural season was organic, right?

Apparently not.

Second runner-up and eventual Bachelorette Ali Oetjen dropped many bombshells about her time on Tim’s season of the bachie when speaking to Mix 102.3’s Jodie & Soda.

“You had to wear the same dress and you had to get your hair done the exact same way. Everything took ages,” Ali explained.

The influencer also revealed that, despite what Sandra Rato explained, there is a lot of alcohol consumed in the bachelor mansion, courtesy of the producers.

“They [the producers] did cotton on as the show went on to give us more drinks so that we would relax and we would do more of what the producers asked of us,” Ali said.

“My advice would be to someone considering going on The Bachelor, make sure you’re in for a mental rollercoaster … it’s not all fun and games.”

WATCH: The Bachelor’s Matty J gives impassioned ‘I’m not a puppet’ speech (Story continues after video)

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So, what’s the verdict?

Honestly, without the ability to become a fly on the wall of that glorious Bachelor mansion, we don’t think we’ll ever truly know.

But we think that the runner-up from Matty J’s season, Elise Stacey, perfectly summarised our feelings about the authenticity of the program when said on Instagram, “Some of it is staged, but at the end of the day the feelings are real”.

For your own fairytale love story, sign up for eharmony.

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