Tim Robards, unlike the majority of cynics who love and watch Australian reality television, is conspicuously of the belief that true romantic love can be found on a television format designed to yield as many jacuzzi shots as possible and gift fame hungry people with a career on commercial radio. Pedestrian recently caught up with the Chiropractor-slash-model and handsome principal of Ten’s new reality series, The Bachelor Australia, to talk love in the time of Tinder, dating horrors stories and the terrifying process of rejecting people.

So tell us about yourself Tim. Where did you grow up? I grew up in Newcastle. I was there until I was 20. Did my first couple of years of uni there where I did a physics degree. Then I moved down to Wollongong where I spent three years. It was my first time out of home, studied there for another three and a half years. Then moved to Sydney and that’s where I did my chiropractic masters. I’ve been in Sydney now for about seven years.

Can you tell us a bit about your professional history. I basically studied for nine years. My first job, well, I was a sandwich artist at Subway (laughs), but after that I was a personal trainer for the first couple of years of uni. So the first nine years of my professional career I was just working to get myself though uni. I was doing some promotional work. Did some modeling stuff which was great. Always good to push yourself out of your comfort zone. I was always a pretty shy kid, I still am a bit shy, so that was good to build confidence and push myself out of my comfort zone and experience new things. I’ve been a chiropractor for four years now.

What was the job that most pushed you out of your comfort zone when you were modeling? There’s not one particular job that comes to mind. I’ve done a couple of TV commercials and when you have to speak it opens up a whole other level of anxiety. I’ve done a lot of underwear modeling which can be very nerve-wracking as you can imagine (laughs).

So how did you sign up for this? I was approached. I had a phone call one day and basically they said that there’s this program we’d like to shoot and we think you’d be great for it. At first I thought there would be no way I would want to do that. It’s probably a little too far outside of my comfort zone. You’re opening yourself up to everyone. It’s an intimate part of your life, your relationships. Then I was approached again later after a few of my clients and friends had recommended me. I kind of looked at it again and at that point went through all the pros and cons with my parents. I had a lot of meetings with the producers and really wanted to know that it was a process through which I could legitimately find love. I didn’t want to be part of something if it was just going to be this melodramatic show full of bitchiness. At the end of it, I thought if it was something that I could actually find love through and give a go and embrace.

What were your expectations going into it? I did my homework. I watched a few of the American seasons and I was pretty sure the Australian one was going to be different. I made sure there were some things we avoided. In the American one a lot of the guys get engaged at the end of it. I thought, for me, to get engaged after this without seeing someone on a normal daily basis and what they were like when they get home from work and the rigors of normal daily life, that was probably a little unwise. I thought I’d take every moment as it comes and just be true to myself and I’m just relying on them to pick some great girls. I didn’t know what to expect when it came to the girls but I gave the producers a big list of everything I was looking for and my values and just had to put my faith in them that they would be able to match the girls up with my values.     
It’s weird because for someone who is legitimately trying to find love you’re putting your faith into casting directors whose primary goal is probably something like ratings. For me, it was kind of like having a best friend say “I’ve got this other friend who I think you would be great with,” and going on a blind date with them. I wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t of sat down with the producers for many hours and gone through exactly what I’m looking for and their intention was really to make a show about two people falling in love. Knowing that was their intention and knowing they were doing everything they could to find the best group of girls possible to increase the chances of me finding a legitimate relationship wassomething that gave me a lot of confidence. I probably wouldn’t have done it otherwise.

So what were you actually looking for? I’m looking for someone who is ready for love, ultimately. Who is honest and trustworthy. Who can communicate well. Someone with great family values. Mine is so important to me and I would love to have that same kind of atmosphere when I have my own family. Someone who is fun and adventurous. I need someone who will be beside me in all the things I do. I’m a bit of a health nut and want someone who can have fun and go on adventures with me. Someone who is ambitious. Who I can inspire and who can inspire me as well. I think that’s important. Those are a few of the things. I think I gave a list of about fifty things to the producers.

Was there things you didn’t want that other people might find desirable? I didn’t want someone who was materialistic. I definitely enjoy the finer things in life but growing up in middle class Newcastle I have a strong appreciation for down to earth people. What else? Some people might not find this desirable but I want someone who is a real go-getter and driven and who has an energy about them that really increases my energy levels.     

Why do you think you weren’t in a long-term relationship before this point that could have ultimately lead to marriage? I’ve had a few long term relationships. I was in a relationship for most of last year. Every long term relationship I’ve been in I’ve hoped would work out but like anyone in a relationship sometimes you get to a certain point and you aren’t going any further or you’re not getting the best out of each other so you move on. I’ve always been ready and willing to find someone who I could end up in a long term relationship with. I just haven’t found “the one”. Getting to thirty now I would like to have a family and have kids now so I thought this show would be a great opportunity to find that.

What were your major anxieties going into production? Just hoping that they would pick a good group of girls. My biggest fear was going in there and thinking that not one person there was what I was looking for. Also, you’re opening yourself up to criticism in a public forum. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be perceived. I spoke to my mum and dad a lot and they said just be true to yourself. I spoke to my friends and they said “look, you’re a great guy, don’t worry about the external stuff”. My dad said “what are three things you want to be perceived as?” I said, “down to earth, intelligent and honest”. He said, “I agree with you.” Obviously the show is edited, but I spoke to the producers and ensured that those qualities would shine through because I really do think that’s who I am. People may like me, they may not. But as long as I’m being true to myself I think I’ll be fine. You can’t make everyone happy.          

What surprised you most? Probably the amount of hours required to shoot it. What looks like a ten to fifteen minute date on TV is actually an eighteen hour day. It’s eighteen hour day after eighteen hour day after eighteen hour day after eighteen hour day. Just managing my sleep and making sure I was well rested and could give all my energy when I was on a date, that’s been hard. It’s not like Big Brother where you hidden cameras set up and you just go for it. There are times when you will stop to reset cameras or readjust lighting or whatever. You have to learn to hit pause and hit play. It’s the same when I go on a date with a girl. I’ve never dated multiple girls at the same time. When you’re on a date you might have an unbelievable day that leaves an impression on you but you can’t go into the next date with another girl thinking about that. I’ve had to learn, in my brain, to hit pause on my emotions and what I’ve felt. Lock it in and remember it, but not dwell on it so that it impacts how I experience the next moment with another person. All the girls deserve my full attention and energy so that’s been hard too.

Is it hard to get over that hump and have a genuine organic moment with someone when they are cameras and other people around? I imagine that even something like kissing someone would be weird in the context of a television show.
Yeah. It does take a few weeks to block out the fact that there are cameras around. The good thing is you become friends with all the crew and you feel comfortable being yourself around them. After a while it’s kind of like you’re there with your mates. It’s surprising the extent to which you can actually switch off from that and be in the moment. It took a few weeks but you get to the point when you can forget that they’re there. It’s weird.

Do you have any dating horror stories? Nothing too terrible. Little things like being on a blind date and finding out you have no chemistry or that you’re completely different people. I’ve probably had one or two where it’s immediately apparent we’re totally different people. If someone’s a mad texter or on their phone all the time or constantly updating Facebook, that, for me, is a massive turn off. That’s what’s so great about this process. There’s no phones. You’re so present and engaged with the other person. You really are able to find out who they are quite quickly.

Is it hard to look someone in the eye and eliminate them? It is hard but at the same time I think the girls are very understanding of my position. They know it’s hard. It is like breaking up with someone, it isn’t easy but it has to be done. The times that I have done it I’ve just looked them in the eye and said “I’ve enjoyed the journey with you so far but it has to end.” Everyone’s been very understanding so far.

You have a bit of an obsessive online following which must be great for the ego but how does that make you feel about yourself? (Laughs) It’s flattering. But the thing with that is people can be attracted or drawn to an image but have no idea who you are. I guess this show will be an avenue where people can find out who I am as a person. I’ll either win new fans or lose my existing one. We’ll wait and see.

The Bachelor Australia airs on Channel Ten.