Reality TV

The Block 2023: Why Neale Whitaker has stepped back from judging

Plus, meet Marty Fox
Loading the player...

The Block is well and truly back for a new season in 2023 and the first episode sure did deliver. From a gruelling first challenge to tense relationships between contestants and the addition of new competition rules – the debut episode was full of drama, renovating and judging, everything Block fans love from the iconic series. 

Watch Below: The Block 2023: Neale Whitaker announces he won’t be appearing every episode

The debut episode delivered on the surprises and one in particular left fans scratching their heads. 

It was announced that Neale Whitaker wouldn’t be appearing every week in his usual judging role, with the longtime judge telling his colleagues he would be “breaking up the band temporarily.”

As Neale revealed that he would be unable to return as a full-time judge during the emotional segment, fellow judges Shaynna Baze and Darren Palmer told him he had their full support.  

the block judges
Meet The Block 2023 judges! (Credit: Nine)

Why is Neale Whitaker leaving The Block?

The short segment was the only information given to viewers, with no further explanation given as to why Neill would be taking a step back. 

Shortly after the episode aired, Neale took to Instagram to share his frustration that viewers weren’t given any context over his announcement. 

“There’s nothing more frustrating than an unexplained decision or an incomplete narrative – especially where health and family are concerned,” he wrote alongside footage from the episode.

Neale and his partner of 20 years, David. (Credit: Instagram)

“This is what went to air tonight on the first episode of The Block’s 19th season, my 17th. I broke the news to Shaynna and Darren that I would be unable to join them each week and explained my reasons. It was an emotional conversation for all of us. Unfortunately, those important reasons didn’t make the cut so here goes.”

“This year I’ve chosen to put family first. David, my partner of 20 years, has been experiencing some serious and ongoing health issues and we knew my place was at home.”

“Melbourne real estate expert Marty Fox will be standing in for me on the weeks I can’t be there, but I’ll still be popping up from time to time over the next 12 weeks 😉 The good news is that David is making great progress 🙏, my Block family has been fully supportive of my decision and I’m looking forward to returning to The Block full time for the show’s 20th anniversary season in 2024. But for the time being, welcome to The Block @martyfox01!”

Marty and Neale will be “tag-teaming” through the 2023 season. (Credit: Instagram)

Who is Marty Fox? 

Whilst Neale will still be appearing on The Block throughout the season, new judge Marty Fox will also be joining the cast. 

Marty boasts an impressive career in real estate, having co-founded and directed WHITEFOX Real Estate. Many Block fans may recognize him as the skilled auctioneer responsible for selling both Harry and Tash’s house in Brighton (2020) and Rachel and Ryan’s in Gisborne (2022).

Residing in Melbourne’s vibrant suburb of Toorak, Marty shares his home with his wife, Charlotte, and their three adorable children: Freddy, 6, Olive, 4, and Bonnie, 1. With a wealth of experience as seasoned property flippers, Marty and Charlotte have successfully renovated 12 properties over the past 15 years.

Although The Block is his debut on television, Marty is the second real estate expert to take on the role of a judge on the show. In earlier seasons, John McGrath also held the esteemed position.

This season, viewers can look forward to Marty and Neale joining forces as they tag-team on Sunday nights. Neale will be partly stepping back, giving Marty the opportunity to share his expertise and insights in the judging process.

Alongside Neale and Marty, Shaynna Blaze, Darren Palmer, Scotty Cam, Shelley Craft, Keith Schleiger and Dan Reilly will all be returning.  

Interested in learning more about The Block? Check out these articles

Meet the teams of The Block 2023

Everything you need to know about The Block 2023

See the final room reveals of The Block 2023

Related stories