W Network

Interview: Cameron Mathison’s Game of Homes giveaway

It’s perhaps the coolest name ever devised for a competition show. It’s certainly one of the biggest giveaways in Canadian television.

Cameron Mathison hosts W Network’s impressively-titled Game of Homes (we’re pretty sure they cleared it with HBO), a series that pits teams of amateur home renovators against each other for the ultimate prize: a house with a chunk of land to put it on.

Debuting Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT, the Sarnia, Ont., born, former All My Children actor turned Good Morning America and Entertainment Tonight contributor challenges four couples to renovate a run-down home. Every week finds the couples fixing up one room in the home before they’re judged by folks like Jillian Harris and Todd Talbot from Love It Or List It Vancouver, Jonathan and Drew Scott, or Colin & Justin. One team per week pockets a prize for best room reno. In the finale, the judges weigh in on who they think deserve to win before viewers vote too. The winning pair not only win the house they renovated but are awarded a piece of Vancouver property to put it on.

How did you get involved in Game of Homes?
It’s funny, I was talking to my agent about this. I went to McGill where I majored in structural engineering and that was something I was going to do with my buddy, who was a designer. I was talking to my agent about that and, literally, the next day Game of Homes called and asked me to send them a tape. It’s something that just came my way that happens sometimes.

With your background, did part of you want to run over and take over the renovations from the competitors?
Like, a large part. Like, 95 per cent of me wanted to get in there either with my two cents or to get my hands dirty. To the point where I have actually pitched to turn the tables on the host of Game of Homes and I’ll do my own transformations with some twists and turns. That’s all I can say. [Note: that project is Cameron’s House Rules, debuting Tuesday on W Network’s YouTube page.]

I couldn’t wait to get to set every day and see what they had done. The challenges are tough, but they do a phenomenal job. I saw the job on paper and thought it was amazing but I wondered how the teams would be able to pull it off and they do.

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The teaser was amazing, showing the four homes being brought on barges to sit on a Vancouver pier while the competition was going on. They have generators for the tools, but they don’t have heat and plumbing, do they?
No heat, no plumbing. It’s tricky.

Are they shown how to do the work beforehand?
Each team has a contractor working with them, but every decision is driven by the team. The contractor will help them with aspects that might be too technical. It depends.

Is there anything that surprised you about the show or the competitors as production rolled?
I think the prize is pretty amazing. A house and property in a city where that’s at a premium? That said, every week there are amazing prizes. Trips to Paris, trips to Japan, Caribbean cruises, spa weeks, it’s out of control. And yet, one of the most surprising things is that the teams became very, very close and were rooting for each other. It was really touching and fun to watch.

There must have been a lot of tears of frustration too. Lack of sleep!
Sleep deprivation was a big one. I was host and couples’ therapist. I had to come in and say, ‘Come on guys, you have to compromise and communicate to get through this.’ A lot of tears shed and animosity against the guest judges. It was so hard to announce a weekly winner because everyone wanted it so badly and no one was going home. Everyone was in it until the very end.

Game of Homes airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on W Network.