For the first time in the show's history, this season of The Block sees a couple voluntarily walk out of the competition after 48 hours.
Lifestyle influencer Elle Ferguson and AFL player Joel Patfull make the early exit from The Block: Tree Change without giving any prior warning. It's not just a big deal for them and the future of the competition, but a sure shock to the rest of the cast and crew.
"When it happened, it was a shock because it was so soon," fellow contestant Sharon Johal tells Refinery29 Australia. "It was 48 hours after we did a challenge where we basically all pulled all-nighters, and it was a real indication of what the next 12 weeks were going to be."
"It was kind of a surprise in the sense that it happened so soon, but I honestly wouldn't be surprised if it happened later," says Johal.
"It's not surprising to me that people would want to leave that experience because words can't even explain how hard and difficult it is. It's not for everyone and that's OK to put up your hand, and not be labelled as someone who gives up, or as unAustralian or whatever people are saying about this couple.
"You're allowed to say, 'This is really difficult and we can't do it and we needed to do what's right for us.' I think that's totally fine. It was a shock because it was so soon in the piece, but it's not shocking that people would go, 'This is too hard' — if that was the reason."
Back in June, the show's host Scott Cam made some harsh remarks to TV Tonight regarding Ferguson and Patfull's departure, saying "45,000 people applied to be on The Block and win life-changing money. These guys got on and they just couldn’t handle the pace after 48 hours… Which to me is a bit unAustralian! Have a go! It’s p*ss poor."
He later told journalists: "Obviously I wish Joel and Elle success in the future. It’s just that they created a fair bit of chaos for us here in the first 48 hours.
"The show… we put a lot of time and money into the start of our show and then we had to rejig the whole thing… the whole promos had to be re-shot. It just was a lot of angst on our part when they just departed the way they did. When I say those words, that’s just Scott Cam speaking from the heart."
Last week Cam told news.com.au that the couple "never spoke" to the crew or production team prior to their exit, and that "they just left in the middle of the night".
"I still don’t know why they left," he said. "They never mentioned their sick mother in the 48 hours before they left, or after they left. The executive producer spoke to them (after they left) and they didn’t mention their sick mother then either."
He said Channel 9 had also flown the pair to Adelaide for a week-long stay in a hotel before filming began so they could see Patfull's mother, "and they came back and said everything’s fine".
Cam, who has been hosting the renovations reality show since 2010, said production has been halted in the past for similar reasons and that arrangements could've been made to accommodate for Ferguson and Patfull had they communicated earlier.
"As we’ve done in the past, we shut the whole show down for a sick family," he said. "If they’d mentioned their sick mother, of course we would have allowed them to go home. I certainly wouldn’t be holding someone back from seeing their sick mother, that’s outrageous."
On Sunday night, Ferguson and Patfull made their debut on The Block's 18th season in Gisborne South in Victoria’s Macedon Ranges alongside the four other teams: Ankur Dogra and Sharon Johal, Sarah-Jane and Tom, Dylan and Jenny, and Omar and Osman.
Viewers will get to watch the aftermath of the pair's departure unfold during Monday's episode. While the couple have kept tight-lipped about their big exit, it's since been reported that Ferguson and Patfull have bought a $4 million home in the Byron Bay hinterland after leaving the reality show.
The Block: Tree Change airs on Sunday at 7pm and Monday to Wednesday at 7:30pm on Channel 9 and 9Now.