reality tv

Where are they now? The cast of the very first season of Big Brother Australia.


Big Brother is one of the world’s most enduring reality TV shows.

The series will return to our screens next week, 19 years after we first watched the format.

In 2001, Big Brother was a shiny new show with a pretty weird concept: we just… watched people living together in a house. We liked it. A lot.

Who’s excited? Big Brother returns to Australian TV on June 8. Post continues below video.

Video via Channel 7

So by the end of the season, we felt like we knew Blair McDonough, Sara-Marie Fedele and the rest of the cast like mates.

It’s been almost two decades since then, so it got us wondering what the heck the original cast have been up to since.

We did some digging, and it turns out a lot of the stars are simply impossible to find. There is absolutely no sign of winner Ben Williams on the internet, which is totally wild considering the public profiles of reality stars these days.

Anyway, get ready for the nostalgia. This is what we found.

Blair McDonough.


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We went from watching Blair play himself on season one of Big Brother, where he was pipped at the post by winner Ben, to playing a character on the soap opera version of Big Brother… Neighbours.

Blair joined the long-running show in 2001 as Stuart Parker and remained on Ramsay Street until 2006.

He then headed overseas to the bright lights of London, where he acted on West End and got himself a few gigs on various British reality TV shows.


He then went on to appear in the UK police drama Heartbeat, before heading home to appear in Aussie dramas Sea Patrol and Winners & Losers.

In 2017, he was cast in a guest role on Home and Away.

He’s also happily married with two kids in tow.

Sara-Marie Fedele.

Image: Network 10.

Sara-Marie was just 21 years old when she entered the Gold Coast Big Brother mansion. She came out an instant celebrity.


Anyone who watched that first Big Brother season will remember just how loveable she was. Her pyjamas, bunny ears, infectious personality and, of course, the bum dance, endeared her to everyone, but in particular, Aussie women.

In the months following Big Brother, Sara-Marie moved to Sydney and capitalised on her fame with the help of talent agent Harry Miller.

In the space of three months, she released a pyjama line with underwear company Holeproof, wrote a top-selling book called The Sara-Marie Guide to Life, and her Sara-Marie bum dance music video was in the top 10 on Video Hits.

Around the same time, Sara-Marie started working at Sportsgirl while still doing public appearances. She also appeared on season two of Dancing With The Stars.

Earlier this year, Sara-Marie sat down with Mia Freedman for her first interview in a long time. So what is she up to now?

You can listen to Mia Freedman's full interview with Sara-Marie on No Filter below. Post continues after audio.

She now spends her time living in Perth, being a mum, and studying to be a teacher's aid for children with special needs.

Unlike most reality TV stars - yes, even ones from 20 years ago - she has no social media; no Instagram, no Facebook.

If she wants to stalk someone, she does it on her sister's phone.

She doesn't speak to anyone from her season of Big Brother - "back then, there was no Facebook to keep us in contact" - and she still gets recognised on the odd occasion.


"I don't get recognised all the time, but when I do, I don't expect it. People in their forties and fifties will still recognise me or ask if they know me from somewhere. I get overwhelmed that people know me, but then I remember it's all positive. I just don't understand it. I go home and do my home things... I don't understand how people love me," she said.

"I haven't been in hibernation, I just didn't care to be known. I'm still the same person before, but a grown up version. I did what I did and then I was happy to go."

Jemma Gawned.


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Jemma was known as the 'lip gloss queen' during her time in the Big Brother house, and put this title to good money-making use after the show, creating Jemma Cosmetics.

She also hosted Search for a Supermodel and became a regular on Bert Newton's Good Morning Australia. In 2008, Jemma appeared on an episode of Australian drama City Homicide.

In 2011, Jemma Cosmetics was put into administration. She then ran a raw food company based in Byron Bay called Naked Treaties, before handing over the business. Jemma now runs the Instagram account Anchoring the Light and creates YouTube videos.

John "Johnnie" Cass.


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Johnnie rode his Big Brother wave of fame by appearing on a number of TV shows including Search for a Supermodel and Sale Of The Century.

These days, Johnnie is a keynote speaker and presenter. He also co-founded Stonemen Underwear, an Australian company shipping to over 45 countries globally.

Pete Timbs.

pete timbs
Image: Channel 7.

Pete lasted 49 days in the Big Brother house before being evicted, and he had no idea of the phenomenon the show had become while he was away.

"We could hear the crowd in the background every time there was an eviction, but we thought Big Brother was messing with us," he told 7 News this week.

"We just thought it was canned laughter. We thought, there was no way this show was going to work. All we were doing was playing volleyball, swimming in the pool and reading books."

Now Pete is a father-of-two and he runs a cafe called The Italian Diner in Bangalow, near Byron Bay.

He's also still in touch with a couple of his ex-housemates.

"Blair lives literally 10 minutes from my house, so I speak to him every couple of weeks," he said.

"Ben was up in the Byron Bay area over Christmas, so I caught up with him.

"I keep in contact with Jemma a little bit, as well as Johnnie - I've seen him a bit recently. Facebook helps us keep in contact."

Feature images: Getty and Instagram.