There are some reality shows you can’t imagine ever being hosted by anyone besides the original host, while there are others where the person providing the commentary is easily interchangeable. But what makes the difference? For one thing, it often depends how many years a host has been attached to a show – the longer they stick around, the harder it would be for anyone else to fill their shoes.
Take Jeff Probst, for example. It would be near impossible for anyone to take over the job of hosting Survivor, which is currently airing its 38th season. Not because it’s a job only one person can do – Jonathan LaPaglia’s sterling effort on Australian Survivor is testament to that – but by now, Probst IS Survivor. His personality is so ingrained in the fabric of the US version of the show that if he ever does decide to leave, it’s likely so would many fans.
Even in shows that haven’t been on air as long as Survivor, how much of what we see on TV reflects the personality of the host is a huge factor in whether that person could be replaced. When Tyra Banks stepped away from America’s Next Top Model for Season 23, singer and actress Rita Ora did a fine job of taking over, but it just wasn’t the same. ANTM has always been as much (if not more) about Banks as it has the contestants. When contestants stuffed up, they weren’t just losing a chance to still be in the running to become Top Model, they were also disappointing Banks, especially those she was rooting for.
Compare that situation to Australia’s Next Top Model, which has had four different hosts over the years – none of whom stuck around long enough or had the force of personality as great as Banks’ to be missed when they moved on. Similarly, the local version of Dancing with the Stars has been through several combinations of hosts over the years without the show ever crumbling into a heap when the line-up changed.
In the case of DWTS, that could be because it was long-time judges Todd McKenney and Helen Richey who were the lifeblood of the series or because in a show featuring (mostly) famous contestants, the host’s persona isn’t as prominent. Or maybe people just didn’t miss Daryl Somers, Sonia Kruger or Daniel MacPherson when they left. It will be interesting to see how attached to current hosts Amanda Keller and Grant Denyer audiences become.
This week, the 17th season of design series Project Runway premiered (airs Fridays at 1.35pm; Arena) – the first without original host Heidi Klum and mentor Tim Gunn, who have been replaced by Karlie Kloss and former winner Christian Siriano respectively. The new faces of the show have a huge job ahead of them. Not only have Klum and Gunn been with Project Runway since 2004, both have provided catchphrases – Klum’s “auf Wiedersehen” as contestants are eliminated and Gunn’s exhortation to “make it work” – that are a major part of proceedings.
Still, Project Runway All Stars host Alyssa Milano – the spin-off’s third and current frontwoman – has proved it’s possible to step into an existing franchise and make it your own. Let’s see what Kloss and Siriano can do.