The Real Love Boat reality TV show sets sail for new horizon


“I guess if you had to describe it in five words or less, I’d say Love Island on a cruise ship,” says Hannah Ferrier of her new show, The Real Love Boat Australia. That’s actually six words, but we get the drift. There are certainly the same underdressed hopeful singles. The same mixing and matching of partners. The same tears, accusations, hissy-fits – and close-ups of tongue-kissing.

But in this version no one can just storm off – or at least if they do, they have to be confident of surviving an indefinite amount of time bobbing about in the Mediterranean. And although over the course of 21 days the ship docks at various exotic ports, much of the action takes place on board, which creates a very particular dynamic.

Daniel Doody and Hannah Ferrier are the stars of Ten’s new reality dating show The Real Love Boat.

“Sometimes emotions are running high,” says Ferrier, who is the show’s “cruise director”. (That’s the Julie McCoy role, to anyone who still believes the Captain Stubing version is the real Love Boat). “Nothing brings your walls down like looking for love. It can stir up emotions, a lot of stuff from the past. Not being able to walk away and leave, I think, is a really big thing – but in some ways it’s a good thing as well. You’ve got to stick it out.”

It certainly makes for some firecracker television, but it’s not all about shouting and crying. The production company, Eureka, has form in making quirky, feel-good TV, from the underrated Making It to Holy Moley and Amazing Race.

Most of the time, The Real Love Boat displays a bone-dry sense of humour and a lively acknowledgement of the absurdity of what it’s doing as well as an attitude of genuine affection toward the contestants. No one is hung out to dry, and the constantly shifting power balance between the men and women (each take it in turns to chose partners) make it feel a little less like a cattle call than some other dating shows.

After almost a decade as chief steward on Below Deck Mediterranean (another reality dating show, set on a super yacht), Ferrier hotly denies refusing to take any gig that doesn’t involve cruising the Med: “I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about!”

‘People are hungry for culture, travel, food, all those amazing things.’

But there’s no question her experience played a big role in coming to her present job. “I love the entertainment industry,” she says. “And I feel like when I had the discussion with the production company, it felt perfect. You know, I’ve done a lot of dating! A lot of research!” (That was in her 20s – she’s now married with a toddler.)

“So I know the Mediterranean, I know dating. All the pieces came together. But the fact that we were sailing around the Mediterranean as opposed to, say, shooting out of Fox studios – it’s not something I was disappointed about.”

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