real housewives of melbourne jackie gina lydia

Shine Queen Jackie Spills On Why Gina & Lydia Aren’t Returning To ‘Real Housewives Of Melbourne’

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In some good news that 2021 desperately needed, the Real Housewives of Melbourne will return this year for its long-awaited fifth season, with the cast being announced earlier this month.

It’s been over three years since the Season 4 reunion, and the upcoming season will see four new faces join the ranks, while original housewives Gina Liano and Lydia Schiavello have exited the series. Thankfully, Janet Roach, Gamble Breaux Wolfe, and Jackie Gillies are all coming back, but this wasn’t always the case. When the Season 5 lineup was first announced in 2020, before COVID halted filming, Jackie was not returning, while Gina and Lydia were both pictured among the cast. So, what changed?

We caught up with the shine queen herself, Jackie, to find out what made her rejoin the show, what changed with Gina and Lydia, and got the goss about the upcoming season.

Jackie Gillies spills all of the Season 5 tea ahead of the return of Real Housewives of Melbourne:

On why Jackie initially didn’t sign on to do the new season:

“I’m going through IVF, so what happened was, before Season 5 began I was asked to come back. I was the first housewife asked to come back. Initially, I said ‘Yeah, I’ll give it a crack,’ but then I started IVF, and oh my God. It was the hardest thing (and I’m still going through it) but it’s the hardest thing that I’ve ever experienced physically and emotionally. I knew that if I came back to that season, I wouldn’t have been an asset,” she said.

“The hormones, the injections, any person who has gone through IVF will connect with me on this, it’s so fucking hard. I wasn’t on the right wavelength to do the season.”

But then things changed. “What happened was, I had this dream. I was asked to come back for the season — and then I dreamt myself filming! So then when I was [again] asked to come back by the executive producer, I say ‘I’m in!’ because I had gone through a year and a half of doing IVF and now I know what to expect. I’m in a better state emotionally. I miss the show and I want to come back. This was before Gina and Lydia were leaving.”

On why Gina and Lydia pulled out of the season:

“Nobody knew I was coming back, and Gina even rang me up but I couldn’t answer the phone. I couldn’t lie! I have since spoken to her [Gina] and we were on the phone for two hours and you know, I actually respect why Gina has left. She’s fallen back in love with law, she wants to focus on that, and focus on helping people. She wants to give it a good crack since she’s not long off retirement. She’s at an age now, that she’s got a good few years left [to practice law] and I get it,” Jackie told us.

When asked if Gina might have stayed if she knew Jackie was coming back, she told us, “She had already made that decision. If she had started filming Housewives, it would have been a disservice to her business. Doing Real Housewives is a massive chunk of your life, it’s four months, it’s intense, and she wouldn’t have been able to take on clients.”

Lydia pulling out of the season was more of a mystery to Jackie. “I don’t know why Lydia didn’t return. I just think she’s become a grandmother, she just wanted to experience being a grandmother and was excited about that. From what I hear, she looks after that child quite often, and they may even live with her. She’s enjoying the quieter life and you’ve got to respect people’s decisions,” she said. “When we took time off, COVID really makes you assess things, and she’s got a beautiful grandchild and wants to spend as much time with that grandchild.”

We asked Jackie if she thinks that Lydia pulled out after Gina, because she didn’t want to return to the show without her longtime ally. She replied, “Maybe? I can’t tell you that as a fact, because I haven’t spoken to Lydia in three years,” she said. “Could it be a possibility? Yeah, it could be a possibility.”

On her current relationship with Lydia:

“At the end of the show, Lydia and I had an afterparty. We were chatting about everything, we let bygones be bygones. What people need to understand, though, is that what happens on the show is real. It’s not fake, what you actually see is what’s happening. Lydia and I would have our ups and downs, but we would make sure that we would leave on a good note.

“In saying that, there are people in life that you will connect with, and stay friends with forever…but there are people you move on from. Like I said, I haven’t seen Lydia in three years, and I haven’t even seen Gina in three years. It is what it is.”

On whether Chyka will ever come back:

“I would like Chyka to come back! I have asked the producers, but we don’t know yet. Chyka and I are good mates, I speak to Chyka all the time…I’ve said to her, ‘Come on girl, you’ve got to come back!’ and she’s like ‘I’ll see what happens!’. I love Chyka, she brings that mumsy vibe! She hasn’t given me a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.”

On her relationships with Janet and Gamble:

“Janet and I have always been really, really close. We always meet up, whether we’re in Byron, or Queensland, or Sydney. It’s always been the same. We’re always in contact — and Gamble’s the same. Gamble’s got the biggest heart. When I came out of the I’m A Celebrity jungle, I needed some time out, and she was like, ‘Come down to my house, nobody will know you’re here.’ I brought my mother down, she lives in Mount Eliza and Ben and I just chilled out. I needed that time out to get away from everything, because when you come out of the jungle, oh my God, it really makes you think about what you really want. For me, that was children.”

On Jackie sharing her IVF journey on the new season:

“I had to come back on the show to talk about IVF. I’ve had thousands of women message me, and I’ve done readings for women that go through IVF. Some women don’t like to talk about it, so I want to start the conversation. I don’t want them to feel ashamed, or feel alone,” she said.

“When I said ‘yes’ [to coming back on the show], I said I want this to be featured. I’m going to be raw and honest and open about everything I experience, to the point where people will be like, ‘Holy shit, Jackie is just keeping it 100’. IVF isn’t easy and there’s not a lot of people talking about it. That’s why I try to encourage women to freeze their eggs. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a partner, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know if you want children…if you freeze your eggs and you’re 40 and 45 and still have your period, your eggs are there! I’m all about encouraging women, freeze your eggs and freeze them now!”.

On filming with the new housewives:

“We’ve just started filming but it’s very early days. I haven’t met all the ladies, like I’ve met them during publicity, but we haven’t shot together, so we’re just taking it one day at a time. My psychic energy tells me that bringing new, fresh energy into the season is going to be something positive,” Jackie told us. “I feel like their energies are true, I feel like they’re authentic — there’s no bravado.”

She continued, “This show needed some new energy, and I feel these new housewives have got a lot of things going on. They’re very independent, they’ve got their own businesses, they’ve got children. Some of the other ladies [from past seasons] had children too, but you didn’t see much of it.”

On Jackie’s professional rockstar husband, Ben, returning to our screens:

“He only does the show for me. I have the best husband. You know, I’ve got to tell you that I prayed for Ben. He is so good, the stuff he puts up with, I think ‘God!’. If you met Ben, you’d think ‘He is solid!’ and he’s so calm. Anything I do, even if he doesn’t agree with it, he will just say, ‘If that makes you happy, I’ll be there’. That’s something that you want in a partner, someone to support you on every level.”