reality tv

In 2012, Benjamin Norris won Big Brother and proposed to his boyfriend. This is their life now.

Before Benjamin Norris went on Big Brother in 2012, there were a couple of things he was told. One was about his chances of winning the show.

“The producers told me there was no way Australia, voting for a reality TV show, would let a gay man win,” he tells Mamamia.

The other was about the chances of his relationship surviving. At that point, Norris and his boyfriend Ben Williams had been going out for two years.

Watch: If reality TV interviews were honest. Post continues below.

Video by Mamamia

“One of the producers said, ‘How solid is your relationship with Ben? Because most relationships do end from going on Big Brother.’”

As any reality TV fan would know, Norris went on to win the series. After being announced as the winner, he proposed to Williams on live TV.

Last month, the couple celebrated their 10-year anniversary.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I never thought anyone would love me because I’m full bonkers,” Norris admits, “and also, being same-sex, people are complete sluts, so they probably move on faster than anyone else. But he loves me and I love him and I’m not bored and it’s working and we’re 10 years into it and we survived reality TV!”

Not only did the couple survive reality TV, more recently, they’ve survived isolating together.

“We DIYed, like the rest of Australia,” Norris says. “We ordered in everything that we could from Bunnings and Officeworks and the rest of it.

“We haven’t killed each other, and it’s been lovely.”

But despite that proposal, watched by a nation, the couple haven’t married yet.

“Originally it was because we were waiting for the laws to pass,” Norris explains, “and now, it’s because I’ve been chasing a media career. I’ve always wanted to do it so I’ve never given up, but it has meant that forking out $20,000 to have the wedding has not necessarily been on the cards.

“We’d love to have children, we’d love to have lots of different things, but I guess the priority for me has always been that I wanted to shape a career.”

While Norris had had media gigs over the years, he hasn’t landed the high-profile jobs that some other former Big Brother housemates have.

“I’m not Chrissie Swan, who has the likeable laugh, and I’m not Fitzy, the likeable larrikin,” he says.

“It’s so hard. The amount of jobs that people will say, ‘Can you come in and audition for it?’ and then they come back and say, ‘No, people just know you as that guy from Big Brother,’ and I think, ‘Oh!’ But it’s never got me down.”

Listen to Mamamia’s daily entertainment podcast, The Spill. Post continues below. 

Strangely enough, in the midst of the pandemic, things have started looking up for Norris’s media career. He’s currently appearing on The Ben, Rob & Robbo Show with Rob McKnight and David Robinson for online platform Ticker.

“My third bedroom is a TV studio,” he explains.

He’s also just been announced as Ticker’s new breakfast TV co-host.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Yes, it’s digital television,” he says. “It’s not like I’ve been asked to replace Karl Stefanovic. But who’s going to tell me, at the end of the day, that I’m not Jennifer Aniston, getting dressed up and pretending I’m on The Morning Show? Probably no one.”

Norris describes himself as a “die hard” Big Brother fan, auditioning four times over the space of a decade before making it through. He’s never had any regrets going on the show, even though he’s had to deal with vicious – and sometimes weird – attacks online. Some people couldn’t get over how similar he and his boyfriend looked.

“The nasty bloggers from some of those Big Brother websites, they’d be like, ‘Do you reckon that Ben gets the other Ben to get plastic surgery to look him, like that movie [Behind The Candelabra] with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon?’” he remembers.

That aside, there were plenty of positives that came out of going on Big Brother.

“After that show, I can tell you that I went through airports for five years and married couples would come up to me, and grown men who had handlebar moustaches and probably used to pick on gay kids at school, and they would hand me their children to get a photo and they’d go, ‘You’re all right.’ And I thought to myself, ‘How amazing that, by auditioning for reality television, I may have had an impact on Australia thinking it’s okay for same-sex people to marry.’”


Sick of tabloid drama?

“Mamamia Celebrity” newsletter


00:00 / ???