IT wasn’t the caged death match many predicted, but there were plenty of tears and lots of laughs at the reunion special for this year’s debut season of The Bachelor – which scored its fairytale ending in the ratings and for new couple Tim Robards and Anna Heinrich.
The TV lovebirds reunited for their first “public” date, minus the wigs and dark glasses they revealed were the secret to racy rendezvous in the weeks since filming of the series finished.
Putting paid to rumours they had split in the interim, Heinrich kept a firm hold of her new man’s hands, the prize in this matchmaker game – watched on by the 24 women who had also competed to win his heart.
With her broken heart barely on the mend, runner-up Rochelle Emanuel-Smith maintained her “lady like” composure, but did accuse Robards of playing with her heart and knowing before the final rose ceremony that he had chosen Heinrich earlier in the contest.
After replays of her hyperventilation when he let her down and confessed his feelings for another, the Sydney model revealed her hurt and humiliation that Robards had not spared her from the shock by admitting he was not going to pick her.
The teary TVSN clotheshorse said: “You knew and everybody was watching those final dates with me like a head case trying to put it all together.”
Robards denied he had made his decision until after he’d finished scheduled dates with both women in Thailand and told her he had “remained open to each girl but it got harder as things went on.”
Emanuel-Smith said: “I choose to believe that you took me as far as you could and I can’t help but believe that you knew because I believe in your relationship with Anna … she’s a close friend of mine and I know how amazing she is. To be that intense with somebody, and so intimate with somebody and then absolutely, completely cut off from them, well…”.
Robards wasn’t the only one put in the hot seat, with feisty Joelene, outspoken Bianca and early favourite Sarah, called to task over their take-downs of other women on the show.
While she ignited the show’s first cocktail party with her catty comments where she famously mocked the “back fat” of a rival, Joelene was seemingly forgiven by the other women who laughed off her behaviour as immaturity and scripted for the cameras.
Despite her bravado, Joelene admitted she was “shocked” by her performance on the show, blaming the party atmosphere and free-flowing booze.
“It felt like I was in a house party with a whole bunch of girlfriends, wine flowing, champagne bubbles and girls. “
Crowd favourite Penny told host Osher Gunsberg that Joelene was “young and I think she was only having a bit of fun …” then added “everyone’s afraid to say anything else or she might fly kick someone in the head.”
Brisbane florist Sarah, also blamed her meltdown on her youth, saying her jealous streak was more to do with being out of her depth when the competition moved to WA’s Broome.
“I got to Broome and I didn’t feel like myself, I was struggling and I think my emotions got the better of me.”
After being denied a rose and sent home, she refused to talk to Robards and said the strained exit was because she didn’t want to break down in front of the nation.
“I was really, really hurt and wasn’t physically able to walk away and talk to him because I didn’t want to be on camera, not in front of Australia, breaking down.”
Bianca, who groped Robards and slagged off bachelorette Danni, said she had also struggled with the set up and “tried to adapt as best I could.”
Series hippie, Belle, who offered Robards rose quartz to open his heart chakras, said “it was the universe not me” which brought Tim together with his final two girls, after she whispered to him to choose them on her way off the show.
In one of the funniest exchanges on the After The Final Rose show, sassy single Penny – who had openly campaigned for more time with Tim, but was sent home after a single date – was asked whether “in hindsight was talking about your epileptic cat a good idea?” She replied: “Cats do have epilepsy, you’re welcome, Australia.”
The divorcee won many hearts with her good humour, revealing she had been on several dates since the show, “but there were no helicopters and I’m upset no one pulls me aside and asks me how the date is going?”
Adelaide real estate agent, Ali Oetjen, who left with a broken heart and a shattered knee after a date mishap, was reunited with Robards on the stage couch denying her enthusiasm for him was desperation, but admitting her first spurned bid for a kiss was “cringe-worthy.”
Robards praised the 24-year-old’s positivity in taking all the show threw at her – including a post-program knee reconstruction – in good spirits.
“After watching (our farewell) I was shedding tears at home and it definitely made a dint in both of our hearts. The person Ali is, she takes the positive out of any situation.”
But it was Heinrich who got the last word and last laugh, saying the experience of finding love and potentially a life partner had been ” dream come true and I couldn’t have asked for a better first boyfriend than Tim and I hope he’s my last.”
BLOG LIVE WITH TIM AND ANNA FRIDAY FROM 12.30PM AEDT ON NEWS CORP AUSTRALIA WEBSITES.