After forty - yes, forty - episodes, Married At First Sight Australia has finally come to a close in the UK. Audiences here were absolutely hooked to the drama-packed series, so much so that E4 will now be making the UK version more like the Aus version - even enlisting the help of one of the Australian experts Mel Schilling.
But, despite the theatrics, for those who do genuinely want to find love, the show poses a unique experiment which can end wonderfully for well-matched couples (in the case of Jules and Cam, for example). But TV producers know hours of happy couples would never make good TV. So then there were the pairs who weren't matched so well - enter Melissa Lucarelli and Dino Hara.
It was obvious from the start that energetic and fun-loving Melissa was deliberately matched with her complete opposite, the calm and spiritual Dino, for ratings. Mel, who had been single for years, says she applied for the show as previous seasons in Australia weren't as dramatic and she thought she had a genuine chance to find love.
But it became evidently clear that wasn't going to be the case as she says producers ignored what she said she wanted in a partner. 'Literally, everything from looks, personality, values - nothing aligned,' Melissa tells Grazia over Zoom from Australia.
Their differences even became a bit of a joke between the couple. 'After the first dinner party, we met all the other couples. And I could see that the other matches were really good. And we were both like afterwards, "We're the joke couple"',' she adds. 'It was really hard because we couldn't ever find common ground. To not even find common ground, in that experiment, it's so hard. And the worst thing was, which people don't get, it is so draining - you're filmed from 10 to 16 hours and you have to have constant banter with your partner.'
'I just think I was just so upset because they say 10,000 people apply,' she adds. 'And what you're telling me is that there is nobody [I could be matched with]? It's kind of depressing, this is kind of telling me that I'm definitely not going to be seeing a penis.'
What didn't make it to the show is that Melissa says Dino was engaged six months prior to the experiment and, unbelievably, spent their honeymoon writing a self-help book. (What?!) 'He was actually only there because he wanted to promote his book, which he wrote on the honeymoon.' She also drops another bombshell, saying that producers did not meet him before the wedding either.
Melissa and Dino eventually broke up after it came out that Dino had been recording Melissa's conversations, but she says this only materialised because she caught him doing it a second time. (That it happened twice was not shown, which makes Mel's reaction more understandable.) 'They leave out huge chunks of things that happen and it's massive, important stuff to the actual story,' she says. 'So it changes the whole thing of it. And so it makes us look like we're insane. Like even with Dino recording, he never came and told me he had recorded me, it's because I caught him recording me again, three days later.'
As for whether the show is scripted, to Melissa's knowledge, it isn't, and, if it was, 'I would have asked for a fucking better part' she jokes.
So, would Mel advise for any UK singles to take part in our new version? Despite her experience on the series: absolutely. (She is an optimist, after all.) 'Here's the thing, it can be amazing [if you are matched well] -if you are the unlucky one of all the seasons that gets a match like me, then no - but for anyone else like it can be a life changer and it's such an amazing thing to do.'
Sam Ball and Elizabeth Sobinoff
Sam and Elizabeth might not have lasted, as Sam seemed far more interested in Ines. But Lizzie was the true winner - she was so popular with viewers she appeared on the next series of the show, finding love with Seb Guilhaus. But, sadly, they split earlier this month after a year together.