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    Neale Whitaker leaving Nine’s The Block, handing over judging duties to Marty Fox

    Just days after taking part in a Buyer’s Jury on the new season of The Block, Neale Whitaker has revealed he is stepping away from the biggest show on TV.

    The new season of the Nine juggernaut is close to wrapping its next season on Phillip Island, two hours southeast of Melbourne.

    The news of Whitaker’s departure comes after just last weekend it was revealed The Blockinator, Keith Schleiger, aka Foreman Keith, would only have a smaller role in the new season.

    Whitaker shared the news about his departure on a social media post:

    It’s no secret that The Block is currently filming on Victoria’s Phillip Island and lots of people have been asking me if I’m back on the show this year. I thought now was a good time to answer those questions.

    In 2023 – as many of you will know – I took a break from The Block to spend more time with my partner David who was dealing with some serious health issues. We all hoped that by this year I would be able to return full-time to the show, but life doesn’t always run to schedule. David gets stronger with each passing month, but my decision remains to be at home as much as possible.

    So while you’ll see me on Phillip Island from time to time, I’ve handed my judging sheet permanently to Marty Fox (who stepped in so brilliantly last season) and I know he will have a blast with Shaynna and Darren as I did for 17 seasons.

    Neale Whitaker leaving Nine’s The Block, handing over judging duties to Marty Fox

    Neale Whitaker with fellow Block judges Darren Palmer, Shaynna Blaze and Marty Fox

    It’s been such a privilege to be part of Australia’s most iconic TV show for an unbelievable 13 years – unbelievable to me, anyway. My thanks to The Block creators Julian Cress and David Barbour for having faith in me all those years ago, to my fellow judges who have become good friends, to the amazing production team and crew (so many of whom have been with the show as long as me) and – of course – the dozens of contestants that kept us judges on our toes week after week, season after season. Who will ever forget Matt and Kim’s ‘crime scene’ room … sorry, Jackson Pollock homage?

    And thank you to Nine for having me on its flagship show for so long. Congratulations and good luck to this year’s Blockheads for their Phillip Island journey.

    Neale Whitaker with his partner David

    Whitaker shared details of his relationship with David Novak Piper several years ago for The Wedding Series.

    We met in Sydney at a charity cabaret for Fashion Targets Breast Cancer. David was backstage doing hair and I was performing. I’m no Michael Buble but I can hold a tune! I was singing ‘Stop In the Name of Love’ with two industry colleagues, Brooke Tabberer and Susan Skelly. David asked if he could give me big hair (the theme was ‘70s Soul Train’) – I think it was a bad attempt at flirting. Anyway, it worked.

    See also: On location – The Block Phillip Island opens the doors for the Buyers’ Jury

    The post Neale Whitaker leaving Nine’s The Block, handing over judging duties to Marty Fox appeared first on Mediaweek.

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