reality tv

15 years ago, Vadim chose Natalie on Outback Jack. This is what their life looks like now.

Remember Outback Jack? It was one of a bunch of “Bachelor with a twist” shows dreamed up by US TV networks in the early 2000s. The premise was that 12 glammed-up American girls were parachuted into the Australian outback, where they had to fight for the affections of a Crocodile Dundee-type bloke.

It doesn’t sound like the type of show that would result in a long, happy marriage and three kids. And yet, for Vadim Dale and Natalie Franzman, it did.

“I’m just as shocked as everyone else, trust me,” Dale says with a laugh.

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Outback Jack resulted in a happy marriage and three kids. Image: Supplied.

Dale is speaking to Mamamia from his home in Louisville, Kentucky, where he works as a police officer. Louisville is where Natalie grew up, and it’s where the couple have chosen to raise their own family. They have three daughters: Hunter, 12, Eden, 11 (“she’s named after my brother who I lost way back in the day”), and Chloe, nine.

Back in 2004, when Dale and Natalie met on the set of Outback Jack, it wasn’t love at first sight. In fact, Dale admits he didn’t really fall for Natalie until after the show finished shooting.

"There was so much going on between three or four other girls – I’m talking squabbling and catfights and debacles – that I really didn’t have time to notice anyone else,” he remembers. “And then halfway through the show I was like, ‘Oh, who’s this girl?’ She was sweet. She didn’t throw herself on me. She wasn’t about the drama.”

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Once Dale had picked Natalie and filming had wrapped, the couple were flown to Mexico so they could spend some time together.

“I think that’s when we started realising, like, ‘Oh, maybe this is more than just two people at the end of a D-grade reality show. Maybe we can make something of this.’ And here we are. The chances of us meeting and then falling in love and getting married, it’s so rare. We cherish that.”

After Outback Jack, the couple did some more TV – including the Australian series Celebrity Circus, with Ricki-Lee Coulter, Cameron Daddo and Toni Pearen – but then decided to settle down in Kentucky.

“We were so looking forward to being grounded somewhere and not having to travel back and forth.”

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They have three daughters: Hunter, 12, Eden, 11, and Chloe, nine. Image: Supplied.

Dale, who’s originally from Melbourne, joined the police in Louisville. He’s now spent more than a decade in law enforcement, including a stint with the US Marshals.

“I’ve been shot at several times,” he says. “I’ve been involved in shootouts. I had to shoot someone – thankfully, she lived.”

He thinks being Australian has often worked in his favour in volatile situations.

“That Australian nature calms people down over here. I think that’s helped me over the last 11 years. Americans love the Australian accent.”

When he’s not at work, Dale is kept busy ferrying his three “high-energy” daughters around. He says life with so many girls is “pretty crazy”.

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Dale says life with so many girls is “pretty crazy”. Image: Supplied.

“I’m like, ‘Oh my God, all this screaming!’ But then I get an hour by myself in the house and I’m like, ‘I’m lonely, I miss the noise, I miss the chaos'.”

The three girls have always known that their parents met on a reality show. But it was only last week that they watched some clips from Outback Jack on YouTube.

“They thought it was hilarious: ‘Oh my God, Mummy was so young!’ ‘Oh my God, Daddy, look how skinny you were!’”

But Dale isn’t planning on showing them the whole series just yet.

“I don’t want to have them see Daddy kiss a couple of other girls. The oldest would be okay with it. The younger two might be like, ‘Ewww! What the hell!’”

So why are this Outback Jack couple still together when so many other reality TV relationships have failed? Dale thinks it’s because they’re both patient with each other.

“She puts up with my nonsense, I put up with hers,” he explains.

“We couldn’t be any more different. I’m still outdoorsy. We’ve got a pet tarantula, a pet gecko and a dog. She’s very much a city slicker. Sometimes opposites attract and it works. We don’t overthink it. We’re happy.”

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