The Mole (Australian TV series)
The Mole is an Australian reality game show that aired on the Seven Network. It is based on The Mole franchise of programs that have aired in numerous countries. The sub-title for the Australian version of the show was a simple question: "Who is the traitor?" Its most recent season aired in 2013.
|Genre||Reality Game show|
|Presented by||Grant Bowler (2000–03)|
Tom Williams (2005)
Shura Taft (2013)
|Country of origin||Australia|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||64|
|Executive producer||David Mason Season 1-5. John Leahy Season 6|
|Running time||43 minutes|
|Production company||FremantleMedia Australia (2013)|
|Original network||Seven Network|
|Picture format||576i (SDTV)|
|Original release||27 February 2000 –|
16 October 2013
|Related shows||The Mole|
The series is a reality competition in which the contestants work as a group to add money to a kitty that only one of them will win. Among the contestants is one person who has been designated "the Mole" by the producers and is tasked with sabotaging the group's money-making efforts. His or her identity is unknown until the end of the series, when two genuine contestants take a final quiz in the final episode regarding details of the Mole. At the end of each episode, the contestant who knows the least about who the mole is, as decided by the results of a quiz, is eliminated from the game.
The series was hosted by actor Grant Bowler in its first four seasons, and subsequently by Tom Williams, who filled in for Bowler in the fifth season due to a prior commitment on Bowler's part, and Shura Taft. The first three seasons, as well as the sixth, all took place in Australia, but the fourth and fifth were set in New Caledonia and New Zealand respectively. The first season was produced by Mason Media Group. Seasons two to five were produced within Seven and executive produced by David Mason. The sixth season was produced by FremantleMedia Australia.
Contestants typically meet each other very shortly before shooting begins. However, in season six, contestants only met each other as a whole group for the first time upon completion of the very first assignment of the game, which saw them split into three groups of four, blindfolded and left at an unknown destination.
Unlike in the American version of the show, player alliances are quite rare and are considered, by many players in fact, cheating. Only the most informal, friendship-based groups ever took shape, and only in Seasons 2 and 5. Season 6 had many alliances formed, in part due to the fact that exemptions were now tangible items that could be traded freely and the introduction of freebies saw players using them as currency or bribes.
However, in season 2, it was revealed that after the Robbery Game in episode 4, three of the contestants had entered into an agreement that if one of them won the group kitty, $20,000 would be given to each of the other two, as long as none of them was the Mole.
Each episode features multiple assignments (called "challenges" in season one, and occasionally in the later seasons), of varying size and value, that are worth money to the group kitty (or "pot" in season six) if successfully completed. Some assignments have penalties associated with them if they are failed. The assignments will alternatively require physical skill, mental acuity, keen strategy, or all three from the players for them to be successfully completed. In some cases, however, an assignment was not fully explained to all contestants, increasing its difficulty. In those cases, perhaps only selected contestants were informed of the full nature of the challenge, and must work towards a different goal than the rest.
There were often assignments that were based on extreme sports or otherwise appeared dangerous. Overcoming fears was often a theme behind some of these challenges. Some of the challenges from season four in French-speaking New Caledonia were also based on having the language barrier as a hurdle, and others in Australia and New Zealand in the other seasons involved the players needing the assistance of unsuspecting citizens in the cities where they were based in order to be completed (such as in the third season, in which there were no local contestants mainly due to the season being based in Queensland, an assignment required them to search for their luggage at an unknown location).
Some assignments require every member of the team to successfully complete their part for money to be won, while others will assign a value for each individual player to finish. The players are commonly told to separate into several groups, such as "leaders" and "followers," which determines particular roles for an assignment.
Assignments often have explicit rules designed to increase their difficulty attached to them, with monetary penalties from the pot assessed if they are violated. Rule violations outside the boundaries of an assignment can also cost the team money from the pot, though this is less common.
Quizzes and eliminationEdit
At the end of each episode, the players take a computer test based on the identity of the Mole, asking questions such as "Who is the Mole?" or "What did the Mole eat for breakfast?" The player who scored the lowest on the quiz each time was eliminated (or, in season six, "terminated") from the game and immediately sent away. The length of the computer test varied by season; in season one the quiz was twenty questions, in seasons two and three it was ten questions in length, and in season four it was reduced further to six questions. Season five changed the elimination format slightly – the players would spend a weekend in New Zealand completing assignments and then return to the Seven Network studio in Sydney to take a live quiz and face a live elimination. Five questions were part of the live broadcast, such as "Who is the Mole?" and "What group was the Mole in for the first challenge?" while before the live portion of the show, five questions based on profiles, such as "How many brothers and sisters does the Mole have?" and "What city does the Mole live in?" were asked. Season 6 returned to a quiz of twenty questions similar to season 1.
The final quiz is normally double the number of questions from the earlier quizzes (for example, in season six, the final quiz was 40 questions, the first ten of which were asked by Shura Taft, that season's host, and then the nine eliminated contestants in the order of their departure from the game).
Players can sometimes earn freebies (corrects a wrong answer) or free passes (sometimes known as "exemptions" or "immunity") through to the next round. In contrast to the American series, these are usually quite rare (they increased in number in season five), and the exempted player does not take the quiz. However, in season six, players who won exemptions would have to defend them in later assignments, or risk losing them. If there was a tie for the lowest score, the player in the tie who took the longest time to take the quiz would be eliminated. Sometimes, contestants are offered the chance to give up their free pass in exchange for a particular amount of money to be added to the kitty; however, he or she must still take the quiz. A host can reveal who is exempt from elimination before the process begins, as by then he or she would have completed the quiz by then (this happened in seasons 3 and 5). In this case, a contestant would have had to have bid money from the kitty to buy the free pass, with the highest bidder being awarded the exemption. As he or she has already taken the quiz, they can opt out of being eliminated by keeping the free pass and not adding money to the kitty, or take the risk of being eliminated by giving up the free pass and adding money to the kitty. In this case, that amount of money is therefore doubled and added to the kitty (e.g. a contestant who has bid $24,000 for a free pass could give it up and therefore add $48,000 to the kitty), with that contestant being put back into the elimination pool. In both seasons 3 and 5, the contestant has given up his or her free pass, and both succeeded.
In season 6 players can also earn "Freebies". If a player chooses to use, then a question that was answered incorrectly on the quiz will be counted as a correct answer.
Similar to Big Brother, eliminated contestants are immediately isolated from the group, and then driven by car to a separate hotel that night, before flying home to their native states the following morning.
|Series||Premiere||Finale||Host||The Mole||Winner||Runner-up||Amount won||Location|
|1||27 February 2000||24 April 2000||Grant Bowler||Alan Mason||Jan Moody||Abby Coleman||$115,000||Australia (Tasmania)|
|2||21 February 2001||25 April 2001||Michael Laffy||Brooke Marshall||Hal Pritchard||$100,000||Australia (Victoria)|
|3||20 February 2002||24 April 2002||Alaina Taylor||Crystal-Rose Cluff||Marc Jongebloed||$108,000||Australia (Gold Coast)|
|4||27 July 2003||28 September 2003||Petrina Edge||Shaun Faulkner||Nathan Beves||$104,000||New Caledonia|
|5||25 August 2005||28 October 2005||Tom Williams||John Whitehall||Liz Cantor||Craig Murell||$203,000||New Zealand|
|6||2 July 2013||16 October 2013||Shura Taft||Erin Dooley||Hillal Kara-Ali||Aisha Jefcoate||$180,000||Australia|
Notable contestants and statisticsEdit
- Alan Mason, the first season's Mole, was the adjudicator on The Weakest Link throughout that show's entire run.
- Abby Coleman, the runner-up of the first season, is now a presenter on Brisbane's HIT 105. At 18, she was the youngest ever contestant to play the game, and reach the final, albeit losing.
- Jessica Hardy, eliminated in the first episode of the second season, appeared on Big Brother Australia 2002 as a housemate and developed a relationship with Marty on that show, which later dissolved.
- Michael Laffy, the second season's Mole, formerly played for the Richmond Football Club in the AFL. He only played a handful of games in a career marred by injury.
- John Binning, eliminated in the second episode of the third season, at 72 is the oldest player to play the game. Had he made it to episode four, he would have also been the oldest ever contestant to appear on the Australian version of The Weakest Link.
- David Annand, eliminated in the seventh episode of the third season, whose father Bud played several games for the St Kilda Football Club in the 1950s and 1960s. David also had a cameo role on the TV show Canal Road, playing a bank robber.
- Robert "Bob" Young VII, eliminated in the ninth episode of the third season, was the winner of the Weakest Link special aired on 11 March 2002.
- Marc Jongebloed, the runner-up of the third season, soon embarked in a career in acting. As well as this, he also had a job as a marketing executive at the Collingwood Football Club.
- Crystal-Rose Cluff was the youngest winner of The Mole, at 21. Jan Moody is the oldest, at 40.
- Petrina Edge, the fourth season's Mole, was one of the minor producers behind the animation film Happy Feet.
- Cam Villani and Alison Lyford-Pike (both contestants from the fourth season) developed a relationship with each other soon after their season ended. Villani had been eliminated in an atypical elimination, was resurrected before being eliminated in the penultimate episode.
- Nathan Beves, the runner-up of the fourth season, embarked on a career in modelling soon after the show ended.
- Heidi Monsour was the only player ever to earn two free passes in one season, in 2005. She is the younger sister of Lisa Newman, the wife of Queensland Premier Campbell Newman. She was eliminated in the seventh episode of that season.
- Kristy Curtis was a part-time trainer on The Biggest Loser Australia in its fourth season while also a coach in The Biggest Loser Asia.
- Liz Cantor, the winner of the fifth season, is now a personality on Brisbane's Seven News, filling in on weather.
- The most money ever lost by a Mole was $427,000, by Petrina Edge in the fourth season, where the potential top prize was $500,000. The least money lost by a Mole was $85,000, by Alan Mason in the first season, where the potential top prize was $200,000.
- The most money ever won by the genuine contestants was $203,000, by Liz Cantor in the fifth season, where the potential top prize was $500,000. The least money won by the genuine contestants was $100,000, by Brooke Marshall in the second season, where the potential top prize was $200,000.
- Overall, the five winners across the five seasons won $630,000 in prize money, at an average of $126,000 per season. The five Moles across the five seasons lost $1,311,000 in prize money, at an average of $262,200 per season.
- The range of money lost by the Mole was $342,000 across the five seasons. The range of money won by the genuine contestants was $103,000 across the five seasons.