EXCLUSIVE: Reno Rumble's John and Lisa share all of the behind the scenes details.

I was standing backstage on the set of Today Extra at Channel Nine when a good looking young man walked up to me and warmly greeted me with a kiss and a hug. My startled expression must have alerted him to the fact that I had no idea who he was, although he did look familiar.

“Don’t you recognise me,” he said. I quickly tried to scour my brain. Where did I know him from. Where…

“I’m your cousin,” he said, putting me out of my momentary misery, and straight away I recognised him. My cousin John. His mother is my mum’s first cousin. His grandmother and my mum’s father were brother and sister. And there’s more. His wife Lisa is the cousin of my sister’s close friends.

We’re double cousins!

“What are you guys doing here,” I asked after being introduced to Lisa.

“We’re on Reno Rumble.”

Rosie Waterland doesn’t get Reno Rumble. One bit.

And straight away my nightly devotion to My Kitchen Rules vanished.

I’m surprised none of my cousins have been on a reality show before now, seeing as I have so many. When you’re Italian there are cousins all around you and sometimes you know it, sometimes you don’t. I remember when I was younger and dating, whenever I met an Italian man, we’d check we weren’t related first.

But I digress.

John and Lisa promo pic
John and Lisa on Reno Rumble. Image: Nine Network

Reno Rumble is a renovation show which starts with two teams competing against each other to renovate a home, in a week – the Eastern Blues vs the Western Reds. John and Lisa are part of the Eastern Blues. Each week a couple is sent home.


I talked to John and Lisa today following the debut of the show last night which they watched surrounded by family and friends.

How did your viewing party go last night?

Lisa: It was good! It was really fun. Just cousins and Johns brother’s came, parents…

Was being on the show good for your marriage or bad for your marriage?

Lisa: You know what? It was actually good, like John and I walked out of it…I mean, we had each other’s backs. We were on each other’s team. We always said that to each other, even when we’d argue like crazy, and I mean, everyone will see it. We always said to each other we came into this together and we are the only ones as individuals who we could trust.

Obviously we’re tired and sleep-deprived and John sort of helped me through, you know, those hours, and he was sort of, you know, he’d pick up where I lacked. What did you think John?

John: Look, it was definitely good. I’m happy I did it with Lisa. We learned a lot from each other, taught each other a lot of things along the way. Obviously Lisa had no idea about building in that way (John’s a builder and Lisa is in admin) so it was good to  sort of teach her how the process goes along. 

We really complimented each other really well I think. Me with the building background and Lisa when she gets into styling she gets really creative and does really well at it.

How long have you guys been married for?

John: We’ve only been married for a year. 

So you haven’t been married long enough to have any real issues yet?!?

John: No, you get the odd argument here and there but then we’d go to bed and forgot about it and then keep going the day after.

Whose idea was it to go on the show?

John: Lisa’s.

Lisa: We always watch renovation shows and we always watch The Block together and I just said to John, you know, we could teach them so much as builders, why aren’t we just getting on there and doing it ourselves. We always make comments about what we might do better or differently so I said to him let’s just give it a go because we don’t have anything to lose really. If we don’t try it out and see how we go we’ll never know.

How did you become the team captains for the first challenge?

Lisa: Self-appointed. Threw my hand up.

John: Lisa just threw her hand up. I didn’t even realise she was gonna do it. Caught me off guard. I think she just wanted to throw us straight in the deep end which is what we did and we just took it on. Nobody really knew what team captains did or how they ran.

You’ve got targets on your back when you’re captains!


John: Yep, exactly. You’ll see as this week goes on it’s quite difficult.

Blue team Reno Rescue
Self-appointed team captains John and Lisa just tried to keep the peace. Image: Nine Network

What do you think your biggest mistake was on the show?

Lisa: I think John and I, we weren’t assertive enough probably. A lot of the time we kind of got – because we held back a lot and we didn’t want to create too many arguments we just flew under the radar in that sense, because we didn’t want to cause any controversy and I think that was a negative because everybody else sort of talked over us and got their way over us in the beginning because they’re all such dominating characters and individuals where as we weren’t.

John: Lisa and I, we know the way we are. We’re not that way inclined. We never have been. Everyone’s there to compete but some couples made it a lot more obvious that it was a competition than others. Some of the other couples didn’t really care about other people’s well-beings and said things that were nasty at times where as Lisa and I tried to treat everyone as equals.

Hopefully that doesn’t affect us to much, but you’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Does anyone end up crying?

Lisa: Um, Nadia cries. Nadia gets quite emotional. I think she sort of gets to a point where she thinks everybody is just against her where as everyone is seeing it as the other way around. It is just crazy. There is definitely tears from her. This whole thing about fighting for space this week in week one and everybody wants their territory to be bigger and better. 

Scott and Nadia
Nadia and Scott butted heads with Lisa and John. Image: Nine Network

What was life like in that little caravan you stayed in for six weeks of filming?

Lisa: Oh my God it was like claustrophobic in that thing but you know what? As crazy as it sounds to be living in a caravan for so many weeks we actually grew to kind of – well we never spent much time in there – but we grew to like it. We were in a really quiet and relaxing place. And you didn’t have to be in your caravan. We always ate outside and it was always really quite nice, like alfresco dining every night.

John: It was cosy. 

Lisa: You do miss your luxuries from home of course, we only had three minutes of hot water each night. You’d be having a shower and suddenly your hot water would run out and you’d have to wait 40 minutes for it to heat up again. But you’re just so tired and over it I think every night, as soon as your head hits the pillow, you just fall asleep and then you were up early again.

What was the fanciest meal you cooked in that teeny tiny kitchen?

Lisa: Oh my God, toast. Vegemite on toast. Not even joking. And I think I had, like, cereal.

FYI: All cast and crew had catering at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Phew.

When you first got home, after your five hour shower, what was the first meal you ate?

Lisa: John’s mum brought lasagna over.

John: Oh, yeah!

Lisa: She knew we would be starving and craving Italian food so she made two trays of lasagna. One to freeze and one to eat that night. 

Lisa in her caravan with John filming
Lisa unpacking food in their caravan while John films. Image: Nine Network

And Lisa they showed your gorgeous wardrobe, you have gorgeous long hair, you always look really beautiful. How do you be a girl on a reno show? How do you keep it all up?

Lisa: There was no self-maintenance but you know what? I packed really well, I brought my manicure stuff, I brought everything you could think of, hence why we were 30 kilos over the luggage limit for our flight. And you know we did have the opportunity duck up and get our hair washed. We had some time which was great. Once a week I would go to get my hair quickly blow-dried or whatever. 

You really do miss all of that. You have to give that up because you just had no time for it. You know, early mornings and late finishes, you kind of just had to maintain yourself otherwise, just forget it, kind of thing. There were definitely a lot of sacrifices.

What can we expect going forward on the show? Is everyone going to keep blowing up at each other?

John: There’ll definitely be some fireworks. I recall the first week was probably the hardest because we didn’t really know each other and everyone’s personalities so, you know, everyone sort of unleashed. There’s definitely a few blow ups over the next few days. The gloves are off, definitely for sure.

Did you make some good friends on the show, anyone you’ll stay in touch with?

Lisa: Yeah, Renee and Sarah, we love them, hey John?

John: Yeah, the cowgirls, they are a crack up.

Lisa: They are naturally just funny people and John and I became quite close with them. We still text each other nearly every day and call each other.

Tune in to the second episode of Reno Rumble airs tonight on the Nine Network. Each week a couple is sent home until the last team standing is awarded $100,000 which John and Lisa say they’d use to build their dream home.

Catch the full episode of The Binge here:

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