Lego Masters is daggy, family-friendly reality TV at its feelgood finest

From Hamish Blake’s dad jokes to colourful brick masterpieces, the best thing about Nine’s Sunday-night offering is that it’s nice

Like so many other households across the world, mine has a little resident who’s absolutely bonkers for the Danish bricks. A late-night stroll through our lounge room – also known as “Lego land” to our son – with the lights off is to take life into your hands. One false move and you’ve either knocked over Batman’s secret underground lair (“Muuuuuuum, you broke his special baddie catcher!”), or scored a tiny pair of binoculars wedged between your toes. It’s a minefield. And it really bloody hurts.

It’s not my son’s fault that he’s forced to live in a tiny two-bedroom house and thus build his fantastical worlds slap-bang in the middle of our living space. But Lego looms so large in our home that of course we would sit down to watch a show entirely dedicated to watching people build amazing stuff with the bricks that litter the carpet at our feet.

Nine’s latest gameshow offering, Lego Masters, is daggy, feelgood TV at its finest. Think MasterChef, but with coloured bricks instead of food. Or House Rules in miniature, with altogether more likable contestants. Hosted by Hamish Blake, it’s got everything my son loves. And by everything, I mean, Lego. Lots and lots of Lego.

The Australian series is based on a concept that initially went to air in Britain in 2017 and became Channel 4’s highest rating new show. It’s judged by the Lego master builder Ryan McNaught, AKA “Brickman”. As the sole Lego certified professional in the southern hemisphere and one of only 13 in the world, Brickman is well qualified to preside over the show, which has eight pairs of amateur Lego builders competing for a $100,000 cash prize and the title of Lego Master.

Lego Masters contestants Matt and Lyn with host Hamish Blake
Contestants Matt and Lyn with Blake. Photograph: Nine

It doesn’t disappoint. Sunday’s night’s episode, which challenged contestants to build a mega Lego City block in just 15 hours, had so much to love. The teams were tasked with creating a building that slid into an already partially erected city. So far, so simple. But then came the twist – creating a scenario destroys said carefully constructed building. Think alien invasions, or aircraft dropping bombs on an intricately designed wedding chapel.

It took a while to get going, and Blake’s daggy jokes went way over our little fellow’s head, but all it took was for those doors to open on the brick pit – a massive storage space complete with 2.5m bits of Lego, all colour coded and categorised, stored carefully in large white room, and available for teams to use however they liked – and he was right onboard again. Apparently it took 122 people 1,098 hours to unpack, sort and fill all the Lego bricks. It was a dream come true for Lego lovers of all ages.

But the best part about Lego Masters is that it’s nice. Though we’ve had to suffer through the inane nastiness that has characterised of Married at First Sight over the last few weeks, there’s none of that here.

About the 43-minute mark, Blake urges a contestant Lyn – who we’ve nicknamed Brick Nan in our house – to push over another contestant’s tower. “Give him a push, a bit of a shove, just to create a bit of tension,” he teases. It’s a joke, obviously, and, after a frosty response from Lyn’s grandson Matt, he backtracks. “There will be no Love Island-bikini snapping, no pushing people in the pool. You’re totally safe,” Blake assures them.

And, frankly, I’m glad.

Hamish Blake and Ryan McNaught with the creations
Blake with ‘Brickman’, Ryan McNaught. Photograph: Nine

Perhaps Nine executives wish there was more of that meanness – after all, meanness rates. Mafs scored a mind-boggling total national overnight viewership of 2.61 million for its finale. Lego Masters is unlikely to be much-discussed over the water cooler on Monday. But, like Ninja Warrior, it is likely to be chatted about in the playground.

Will that translate to ratings gold? Guardian Australia understands the network would have been happy with 800,000 – a far cry from those staggering Mafs finale figures – but its first night drew 1.91 million viewers. I imagine that’s because for those of us watching, particularly those of us with kids, it was something of a relief. It’s rare these days to be able to sit down and watch TV together, but that’s exactly what we did as a family with this show. And, after it finished, we were straight into creating more Lego masterpieces with little mate in the lounge room.

Lego is a shared experience. We’ve all played with it – and we’ve all stood on it. And it’s nice to come together as a family and watch something as simple as a couple of contestants figuring out how to construct a giant treehouse from tiny bricks.

Now, if you need me, I’ll be spending 15 hours rebuilding Batman’s secret underground lair – complete with baddie catcher. Perhaps Brick Nan can lend a hand?

• Lego Masters is showing on Nine on Mondays and Tuesdays at 7.30pm and Sundays at 7pm

Contributor

Clare Rigden

The GuardianTramp

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