Grand Designs and The Block

Audience Engagement and Modes of Consumption through Lifestyle Reality TV in Australia

Authored by: Esther Milne , Aneta Podkalicka

The Routledge Companion to Global Television

Print publication date:  November  2019
Online publication date:  October  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138724341
eBook ISBN: 9781315192468
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter explores the material and symbolic significance of the British hit television program Grand Designs in creating viewing publics and new markets. We discuss what the program means to audiences and more broadly for emerging forms of audience research. As a point of contrast and comparison we explore the popular Australian competition renovation show, The Block. Talking to Australian renovators and building practitioners we discovered that these programs occupy multiple cultural registers and do not remain solely at the level of representation. Rather than apply textual analysis or a neoliberal, governmentality approach, perspectives which dominate the critical landscape for reality TV scholarship, our chapter canvasses a wider critical lens that has the capacity to recognise the ways in which Grand Designs and The Block function as cultural objects circulating beyond the screen.

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