The biggest reality TV bombshells of 2021

What a year it's been!
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If there’s one guarantee when it comes to reality TV, it’s that drama is bound to play out. And if you measure your viewing pleasure in terms of bombshells, then you wouldn’t have been disappointed this year.

WATCH BELOW: Koby Abberton exposed on SAS Australia for cheating

From cheating scandals, abuse accusations, sexting sagas and claims of nepotism, reality TV fans were spoilt for choice in 2021.

It seems no show was safe from making headlines for all the wrong reasons, with the usually wholesome The Voice even being marred by a “rigging” scandal, while the spectacle surrounding Meghan Markle was a permanent fixture on Big Brother VIP.

We’ve rounded up the biggest Aussie reality TV bombshells of the year.

(Credit: Ten)

Jamie-Lee Dayz’s appearance on The Bachelorette

When Jamie-Lee Dayz stepped out of the limo on night one of Brooke Blurton’s season of The BacheloretteBachie fans instantly recognised her.

The pair had formed a tight friendship when they both appeared on Nick “The Honey Badger” Cummins’ season of The Bachelor back in 2018. And for Jamie-Lee, the 2021 season of The Bachelorette felt the right time to find out whether they really did have a romantic connection.

“Despite the rumours, nothing romantic ever happened between us in the mansion – we were just close friends – but a part of me wondered if there could have been something romantic if circumstances were different,” Jamie-Lee told TV WEEK.

During their first meeting on The Bachelorette, Jamie-Lee was open and honest with Brooke about their time together during Nick Cummins’ 2018 season.

“There were so many times in the mansion where I would want to sneak over to your bed, but I just didn’t know,” Jamie-Lee explained to her.

Calling the encounter a “sliding doors moment” between the two, this year’s bachelorette explained she didn’t act on it at the time because she was “there obviously for Nick”.

(Credit: Instagram)

Farmer Wants a Wife pregnancy scandal

Fans will recall Hayley Love first appeared as a contestant in Farmer Matt Trewin’s group, though she was sent home before the finale and later struck up a romance with Farmer Will Dwyer after the show had filmed in December in 2020.

But the scandal didn’t end there. In April this year, Hayley found out she was pregnant with Will’s baby after deciding to end her relationship with him.

“On the 2nd April I left his house thinking, ‘I’m never coming back, I’m done.’ The next morning, I found out I was 6 weeks pregnant. I was terrified to tell him,” she said in a statement of the surprising reveal that sent FWAW fans, and the media, into a frenzy.

(Credit: Nine)

Bryce and Melissa’s Married at First Sight controversy

While it’s hard to pinpoint one bombshell in particular, MAFS 2021 stars Bryce Ruthven and Melissa Rawson were shrouded in controversy right through their time on the show, and well after filming wrapped.

Issues cropped up when some viewers claimed that the relationship between the couple, as portrayed on TV, was “abusive” and showed signs of “gaslighting” behaviour.

Earlier this month, Channel Nine was cleared by a media watchdog over claims of “gaslighting”. An investigation by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found that the show did not breach the Commercial Television Code of Practice, despite an influx of complaints.

As for Bryce and Melissa, the couple continued their relationship after the show. And in a more positive bombshell, this year they welcomed twin boys Levi and Tate and announced their engagement.

Both Bryce and Melissa maintain that there is nothing “abusive” about their relationship, however that didn’t stop criticism when their season aired.

(Credit: Nine)

The Block cheating scandal

The cheating saga on this year’s season of The Block threw production into disarray and was dubbed the “biggest scandal in the show’s history”.

The drama was centred around a photo that was taken in the opening moments of the show. The picture showed the program’s production schedule – complete with details of every challenge and which rooms were coming next – giving whoever saw it an unfair advantage.

The bombshell led to disrupted building plans, interrupted deliveries and chaos among the cast. But while Melbourne couple Tanya and Vito and Sydney twins Josh and Luke admitted they had seen the photo, they and every other contestant and builder denied being the ones who broke into Scott Cam’s office to take it.

Tanya and Vito claimed to have received the photo from a mystery tradie and said they had deleted the text messages. The ‘source’ of the photo was hotly debated all season long, with the couple deflecting the blame onto other contestants and even construction crew.

In the explosive finale earlier this month, Luke and Josh revealed their version of what happened.

“We had the production office being used as a toilet and I went in there,” Josh admitted, saying he looked at the board but did not take a picture.

He said that about 45 minutes later, Tanya approached him to say she had seen the production schedule in the office and wanted to take a picture. She went to take a photo while Josh stood guard, and she later sent it to Luke.

“I took the photograph,” Tanya admitted later in the episode, once the truth had been shared by the twins. She said she felt blindsided by the boy’s reveal and wished she had spoken up sooner.

(Credit: Seven)

Jess Power and Shane Warne sexting claims

In a cross-over no one saw coming, Jess Power revealed on Big Brother VIP that none other than cricket Legend Shane Warne had slid into her DMs with some “X-rated” messages.

Earlier in the season, when the celebrity housemates were grilled by radio duo Fitzy and Wippa about their controversies, the former MAFS star claimed that Shane messaged her via Instagram.

“He messaged me three or four times and I hadn’t seen it and then I replied back,” Jess explained.

“He goes ‘Can I say hi?’ And I said ‘Of course you can say hi I don’t bite’ and he said ‘What if I ask you to?'”

When probed further on her conversation with Shane, Jess remained tight lipped but revealed it was “X-rated”.

“It was to do with being naked and facing a wall and on knees,” she revealed. “A bit graphic, you know. I didn’t like that.”

Earlier in the episode, Jess described the legendary cricketer as a “freak” and admitted she replied to his messages for a brief period before ceasing communication. “No wonder he gets into trouble all the time!” she laughed.

(Credit: Seven)

Jess Mauboy’s niece auditions for The Voice

We all know that die-hard fans of The Voice take the singing competition very seriously, and they didn’t take lightly to the fact that judge Jess Mauboy’s niece Saraya Mauboy-Hudson was allowed to perform on the blind auditions.

Jess became emotional when she turned her chair to see her 17-year-old niece singing Rihanna’s Stay, but hundreds of viewers wasted no time in taking to social media to slam the process as unfair, with some even calling the show “rigged”.

“I wish this show would stop letting family and friends enter. I don’t know any other competition that allows it,” one person said on Twitter. “I guess The Voice is there to launch the careers of the judges’ family members,” another comment read.

The furore over judges’ family members appearing on the show started last year when Guy Sebastian’s brother Chris won the 2020 season and scored himself $100,000 in prize money and a recording contract with EMI Recorded Music Australia.

WATCH BELOW: The Voice | Saraya Mauboy-Hudson brings Auntie Jess to tears. Story continues below.

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(Credit: Seven)

Thomas Markle Jr’s letter to Meghan on Big Brother VIP

Thomas Markle Jr definitely didn’t shy away from dropping bombshells about his estranged half-sister, Meghan Markle, and her marriage to Prince Harry during his time on Big Brother VIP.

Fellow housemate (and winner) Luke Toki encouraged Thomas to write a heartfelt letter to Meghan in the hopes of reconciliation.

In the letter, Thomas tried to make amends for a note he previously wrote to Prince Harry before his wedding to Meghan, where he called the pair’s nuptials “the biggest mistake in royal wedding history”.

“Dear Meghan and Harry, the first thing I want to say to you two is that I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart for the awful, mean letter I wrote to you prior to your wedding,” his newest writings began.

“I want both of you to know that it didn’t come from the real person I am, but came from the very dark, hurt part of my heart. I am not a mean person at all and I have more love inside me to give than anyone I know.

He continued, “The letter was definitely written from my feeling hurt and confused from your response that I was ‘distant family’ and that you ‘didn’t know those people’. I was hurt and confused because of the amazing bond and relationship we shared growing up together, and all I could do was put up a defensive wall to protect my heart.

“I know that the letter was immature and wrong and I truly regret it. When your relationship with Harry first became known to the public, I – along with all of our family – became public figures overnight – no more privacy.”

(Credit: Ten)

Jay Lal dated another Bachelor before meeting Jimmy Nicholson

This one is a perhaps a less controversial bombshell from the world of Aussie reality TV. Jay Lal made headlines earlier this year when it was revealed she had previously dated New Zealand Bachelor star Moses Mackay.

During hometown dates, Jimmy was visibly thrown when Jay’s friend bluntly revealed to him that the nutritionist had previously dated “someone famous,” though she didn’t reveal who.

When confronted by Jimmy over the claims, Jay admitted she had a brief romance with New Zealand’s 2020 Bachelor. While the revelations seemed salacious at the time, shortly after being sent packing, Jay revealed the story wasn’t as dramatic as it was portrayed on screen.

“I dated him literally when I was 26 and I’m 32 now. It was released that he was the Bachelor five days before I went into filming Bachelor Australia so it was all a huge coincidence,” she said on Laura Byrne and Brittany Hockley’s Life Uncut podcast.

“I dated the guy for a couple of months, it wasn’t quite a significant relationship in my life. So I found this so irrelevant, I don’t know why it was made such a big deal.”

The New Zealand-born beauty said the rumours which plagued her time on the show were “overexaggerated on TV”.

(Credit: Seven)

Koby Abberton’s cheating scandal on SAS Australia

Despite SAS Australia focusing more on personal development than petty drama between contestants, a scandal still managed to erupt when Bra Boy Koby Abberton was accused of cheating during a gruelling challenge.

In a task where he had to complete 30 push-ups, Koby only did half of that amount and the act was caught on camera.

The directing staff reviewed the secret footage and then confronted Koby for cheating, where he initially denied it.

“I didn’t mean it. No way. I just wouldn’t have cheated that much,” he said, before he added: “But the evidence is there and I’ll take full responsibility.”

Right after the scene aired, viewers immediately took to Twitter to share their take on what happened. “There’s people who are worried they did 29 [push-ups] instead of 30 accidentally and then there’s this cheat looking them in the eye and lying blatantly,” one fan wrote.

“Koby to Jett: I smashed that course! Did you smash it? Ummm…you didn’t smash it pal. You cheated!” another viewer quipped.

Koby apologised to his fellow recruits afterwards, and suggested that perhaps he had miscounted.

This article first appeared on our sister site, Now to Love.

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