The absolute best part of wildly popular reality shows is learning all the behind-the-scenes goss, so today’s interview is a real treat.

It comes via Fox FM‘s Fifi, Fev & Byron, who spoke to a former Bachelor producer who worked on Tim Robards‘ season. They call her ‘Steph‘, which is absolutely not her real name.

Some of the stuff Steph spilled this morning we’ve known before – that the cocktail parties happens over two nights (“If you look closely, about halfway through the cocktail party they’re looking a bit blurry-eyed, and then when it comes to the rose ceremony they’re fresh as a daisy”), and that contestants do get paid a little bit for their appearances (“It’s not a lot — enough to cover their rent, their phone bills … they’re certainly not making a profit from it”), but some of this is BRAND NEW INFORMATION.

For example, on Tim’s season? He fell in love Anna Heinrich pretty quickly, and producers had to really convince him to play into the dating game.

We had a problem on Tim’s season because he fell madly in love with Anna quite quickly. “Who do you want to go on a date with?” “Anna.” “OK, and who next?” “Anna.” He had to work with us a little bit.

Given those two are now ENGAGED [*an earlier version said married and whoops, our bad] and also remain one of the few Bachelor couples still together, this all checks out.

And you know how the, er, wilder characters stay in the show far longer than is reasonable? That’s not just the producers pulling strings in the background. The Bachelors themselves let the colourful characters stick around to take the pressure off being interesting all the damn time (same).

[The Bachelor]’s not told, but he’s guided towards decisions. I think the Bachelor keeps certain people in because it takes the weight off his shoulders. He knows for the show to do well it’s got to be interesting, but it’s hard for him to be interesting the whole time. If he keeps the crazies in, that’s a great show. Let’s keep it entertaining, let’s work together.

He’s being encouraged [to keep the livelier characters around], and he’s seeing the merit in it, because then he doesn’t have to be this outrageous entertaining character the whole time; she can carry a bit of the workload.

But there is a strict minimal alcohol policy, which Australia brought in after the infamous Big Brother Turkey Slap incident. (Side note: remember when this was a national conversation for weeks? Then-Prime Minister John Howard even called for the show to be cancelled. Jokes on him, his employment got cancelled.)

Yes, they’re allowed to drink. The rules on Australian TV are very different to American TV — it’s only two drinks per hour … roughly. Do you remember years ago, Big Brother, that incident? That changed all the rules, you weren’t allowed to get blind after that. They threaten that someone could turn up on set at any time, but it’s loosely two drinks per hour.

Sorry, but explain how Keira in Richie Strahan‘s season was chanting “Bed, bed, bed, bed, bed” towards the end of the cocktail party if it wasn’t the heavy influence of cocktails.

It also turns out that the American version of the show is much, much more dramatic behind the scenes as well as in front of the camera.

In the US they have a massive budget, so it’s one producer per contestant. When the contestant gets kicked off, the producer loses their job, so you might be doing some sneaky things to keep your contestant around. It’s not as brutal in Australia.

And as for the most important question – how much behind-the-scenes rooting is going on – the answer is: none.

We are threatened, basically, with death, if any of the crew members second glance or flirt with the girls. You want to get on to the next series, so it’s at your own peril if you make a move.

Sex definitely does not happen on the show [between contestants] because there’s a duty of care. On overnight dates, there’s always a producer ‘cock blocking’ them, if you will. They can chat privately, but not even second base.

That being said, one of the contestants is now married to a cameraman, said Steph, and another contestant dated one of the producers, but both relationships began after the show started filming.

Oh, and ONE LAST THING: Season’s two dud of a Bachelor, Blake Garvey, rejected a whole lotta dates. Dude just couldn’t horse ride.

Listen to the full interview over here.

Image: Channel 10