In addition to the spicy hens’ and bucks’ nights, controversial wedding speech and dramatic honeymoon walkout, Married At First Sight’s premiere episode featured a very brief tribute to the show’s late expert Dr Trisha Stratford.
Trisha, who passed away in September last year at the age of 72, appeared as a relationship expert on the reality show’s first seven seasons before quitting in 2019.
While TV tributes typically air at the beginning of the episode, including Channel 10’s emotional tribute to late judge Jock Zonfrillo on last year’s season of MasterChef, Channel Nine included a six-second tribute to Trisha at the very end of the episode that many viewers might have missed.
After the credits aired, the screen turned black and white text appeared that said: “In memory of Dr Trisha Stratford.”
Speaking to Yahoo Lifestyle before the premiere episode, fellow expert Mel Schilling said she believed it was “really important” that the producers acknowledged Trisha on the show.
“She was the person who brought all of the science to begin with,” she remarked. “She was our neuroscientist, the person who understood all the research behind the shirt sniffing and the pheromones and all of that fascinating stuff.
“Certainly John [Aiken] and I looked at her as a real mentor from that scientific perspective. She’s been a very big part of our journey, so to be able to commemorate her here I think is really important.”
An insider also told Yahoo Lifestyle earlier this month that John was instrumental in ensuring that the show included a tribute to Trisha.
“He was quite worried how the network would handle the tragic loss of such an instrumental part of the MAFS family and he really made his voice heard to make sure that something was going to be done,” our source shared.
“It would really be making a statement if they don't include her in the first episode. Fans of the show would be disappointed and not to mention John and Mel would feel cheated.
“After all, they have all put so much of their lives into the success of MAFS. They will feel more valued when they see this kind of acknowledgement.”
Why Trisha Stratford left MAFS
Although she found the first couple of seasons to be “fulfilling”, Trisha said she found herself “conflicted” as the direction of MAFS shifted to focus on drama rather than genuine connections.
“I thought I had very strong resilience after everything I've done in my life, but MAFS took me to another level,” she told Woman's Day in 2021.
She added that she felt “sick” at some of the dinner parties and believed some of the contestants were “so outrageous and outside the norm” that it left her feeling like it wasn't what she had signed up for.
“By the end, I couldn't compromise my professional and personal standards because there were participants on the show who I felt shouldn't have been there,” she said.
“If someone gets through the critical selection process, when we say we don't want them on the show because they're quite fragile, they're not going to do well after the show.”
Trisha was subsequently replaced on the show by sexologist Alessandra Rampolla, who has returned as an expert for the show’s eleventh season alongside John and Mel.