The Block judge Neale Whitaker, known for his impeccable taste and entertaining quips on the show, has made a shocking announcement just before the 2023 season is set to start.
Neale, who has judged the show since its third season, told fans he will be cutting back on how often he appears on the 19th season of the show to help his partner, David, through ill health.
“I’m very proud to be completing my 17th season as a judge on The Block. It’s an amazing privilege to have been part of this iconic show for 13 years. For the 2023 season, however, I’ve put family first and cut back on my judging weeks,” Neale wrote in an Instagram post.
“My partner of 20 years, David, experienced some serious health issues earlier this year and my priority has been to spend more time at home. But I’m happy to announce that real estate guru Marty Fox has been able to bring his expertise to The Block and join Shaynna and Darren on the weeks when I couldn’t be there.
“The best news of all is that David is making a great recovery, and I’m looking forward to returning to The Block full-time for the show’s 20th anniversary season in 2024.”
Marty Fox, who took on Neale’s duties while he couldn’t be there, commented on the post saying: “Thank you Neale. The decision to be there to look after David I guarantee will be the reason why he bounces back stronger. You’ve given me some big shoes to fill mate and it’s an honour to have helped the OG.”
Neale’s fellow judge, Shayna Blaze, commented: “Huge love & respect for what you do & your priorities. But mostly love you.”
Fans also commended the judge for putting family first, with one person writing: “Family is all that matters in this life. I hope David is okay.”
Neale made the announcement on the same day Channel Nine released promo clips for the latest season of the show.
Set in the suburb of Hampton East in Victoria, the new season will see five teams battle it out to reinvent five homes designed and built in the 1950s.
This year The Block also celebrates 20 years since the first series in Bondi went to air and changed the Australian television landscape forever.
Executive Producer Julian Cress, who created the show with fellow EP David Barbour, says the 20-year birthday is a fantastic achievement.
“We thought we were pretty lucky to get the show on air in the first year we made it,” he said
“Just getting The Block commissioned was a huge achievement and there is no way we thought we would still be here making the show 20 years later.
“But the great thing about it is we all still love making the show, and no two series of The Block are ever the same, as these five new teams will truly prove this year!”
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