The Mole (Australian TV series)
Season six title card
|Created by||Bart De Pauw|
|Presented by||Grant Bowler (2000–3)
Tom Williams (2005)
Shura Taft (2013)
|Theme music composer||Jay Stewart|
|Country of origin||Australia|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||64|
|Executive producer(s)||David Mason|
|Location(s)||Tasmania, Australia (2000)
Victoria, Australia (2001)
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia (2002)
New Caledonia (2003)
New Zealand (2005)
|Running time||43 minutes|
|Original network||Seven Network|
|Picture format||576i (SDTV)|
|Original release||27 February 2000 – 28 October 2005
2 July 2013 – 16 October 2013
|Related shows||The Mole|
The Mole was an Australian reality television series 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.
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 Fremantle Media 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 elimination
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.
|Season||Premiere date||Winner||The Mole||Runner-up||Other contestants in order of elimination||Number of contestants||Final
|1||27 February 2000||Jan Moody||Alan Mason||Abby Coleman||James Douldudis, Patrick Fogarty, Rocky Warren, Josephine Pennicott, Ben Taylor, Bev Rilatt-Richardson, Linda Cameron||10||$115,000||$200,000|
|2||21 February 2001||Brooke Marshall||Michael Laffy||Hal Pritchard||Chris Zeiher, Mike Shepherd, Terri Sharp, Michael Brown, Natalie McCay, Jessica Hardy, Helen Nation, John Edwards, Angela Linforth, Fiona White-Hartig, Shane Jolley, Emily Fitzsimmons, Mal Granturco||16||$100,000|
|3||20 February 2002||Crystal-Rose Cluff||Alaina Taylor||Marc Jongebloed||Janet Kesby, John Binning, Yasmin Dunn, Thao Nguyen, Joe Ballota, Pete Moore, David Annand, Ann-Maree Weaver, Bob Young VII||12||$108,000||$300,000|
|4||27 July 2003||Shaun Faulkner||Petrina Edge||Nathan Beves||Stace Callaghan, Greg Harding, Josh Kennedy-White, Nikki Hosking, Kris Stanley, Alison Lyford-Pike, Cam Villani||10||$104,000||$500,000|
|5||25 August 2005||Liz Cantor||John Whitehall||Craig Murell||Josh Barker, Sonya Fardell, Brett McGrath, Nat Amoore, Juan Garcia, Mark Jensen, Heidi Monsour, Kristy Curtis, Liane Bourke||12||$203,000|
|6||2 July 2013||Hillal Kara-Ali||Erin Dooley||Aisha Jefcoate||Seble Kebede, Jayden "Mozzie" Irving, Linda Klemm, Alex Lee, Kerrie Odger, Ally Young, Nick Benatar, Shaun Ramsey, Sam Hutchins||12||$180,000||$250,000|
The first season of The Mole originally aired from 27 February 2000 to 24 April 2000. It was hosted by Grant Bowler and featured ten contestants, one of whom was the Mole, and a maximum prize of $200,000. The players started the season on the mainland of Australia, but their first challenge was to fly to Tasmania and land before the plane did by parachute jumping. The remainder of the season took place in Tasmania.
The second season of The Mole originally aired from 21 February 2001 to 25 April 2001. It took place in Victoria and was also hosted by Bowler. This season featured a unique first episode, one that started with sixteen potential players starting in groups of four from different places in Australia and needing to get to a designated hotel by a time limit. Along the way, they were presented with dossiers from members of another group, and at the hotel they all took a computer test based on general knowledge about all sixteen people. The six lowest scorers were eliminated, and the other ten, one of whom was the Mole, moved on to the rest of the season as normal. The maximum prize was again $200,000.
The third season of The Mole originally aired from 20 February 2002 to 1 May 2002. It took place in Gold Coast and was also hosted by Bowler. The maximum prize was $300,000. This season included, as a challenge, an entire episode of The Weakest Link (in which the contestants were flown from the Gold Coast to Melbourne), aired on 11 March 2002, where the money won would go into the group kitty and the winner of the game would earn a free pass through to the next episode. In contrast to the previous two seasons, this season did not dedicate an entire episode to revealing the Mole and his or her sabotages and clues, but instead simply a brief segment on the last episode of the season. This practice was followed in the subsequent seasons.
The fourth season of The Mole, subtitled The Mole in Paradise, originally aired in 2003. It took place mostly in New Caledonia, and was again hosted by Bowler, with a maximum prize of $500,000. This season featured two atypical eliminations. In the third episode, Cam appeared to be the third player eliminated, but the remaining players were all instructed to privately vote as to whether they would want him returned to the game. If even one person opted to do so, Cam would be returned to the game and $50,000 would be added to the group kitty. Exactly one player voted for Cam to return, and he did. Later, Petrina appeared to be the fourth player eliminated, but she was presented with an offer to return to the game if $50,000 would be removed from the kitty. She accepted this offer and returned.
The fifth season of The Mole, subtitled The Amazing Game, originally aired from 25 August 2005 to 27 October 2005. It took place in New Zealand and was hosted by Tom Williams, as Bowler was unavailable due to a prior commitment. This season introduced live eliminations after the produced portion of the program. This season featured a maximum prize of $500,000 and the highest actual prize of any of the five seasons as it was the only season the prize topped $200,000.
The sixth season of The Mole ran between 2 July and 16 October 2013, on the Seven Network, and was hosted by Shura Taft. Contestants were selected based on differing socio-economic backgrounds, religions, cultures and beliefs. This season took place across the Australian Eastern-Seaboard and had a potential pot of $250,000, though the final potential winnings turned out to be more than $1,000,000.
- 2001 Most Popular Reality Program (won)
- 2002 Most Popular Reality Program (lost to Big Brother)
- 2003 Most Popular Reality Program (lost to RPA)
- 2004 Most Popular Reality Program (lost to Australian Idol)
- 2006 Most Popular Reality Program (lost to Australian Idol)
Notable contestants and statistics
- 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 B105. 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.
- 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.
- Knox, David (24 June 2013). "Airdate: The Mole". TV Tonight. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
- "The hunt for The Mole begins!". Yahoo!7 TV. Retrieved June 2013. Check date values in: