For Reggie Bird, Life After Big Brother Has Been No Walk in the Park — But She’s Back to Win
It’s 2003, and you’ve been introduced to Regina ‘Reggie’ Bird on Big Brother Australia. She’s young, full of life, and manages a fish and chip shop with her (then) husband, Adrian.
She goes on to win season three of the show, with 72% of viewers voting for her — the biggest margin in a Big Brother finale to date. To cement her icon status even further, Bird was the first woman to win the reality show, after Ben Williams won the first season and Peter Corbett won season two.
Fast forward 19 years. It’s 2022 and Bird is back to reclaim her title on Big Brother Royalty vs New Contenders, and a lot has happened since she was crowned the winner.
Channel 7 has been drip-feeding us previews of the upcoming season, and one of them provides an update on Bird and how life treated her after she left the show. We learn that Bird’s life has been anything but easy, facing one hurdle after another.
“Big Brother changed my life,” she says in the clip. “I was the little Aussie battler, and I related to a lot of people.”
Just as she’s about to open up about her story, she pauses, saying, “Oh, I’m gonna cry, sorry.”
Bird has been diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic condition in which the cells in the retina weaken over time, causing loss of vision and blindness.
Bird was diagnosed a year after her Big Brother win. Speaking to The Daily Edition in 2016, the reality TV star revealed that the invisible nature of her condition makes it difficult to navigate through life.
“Sometimes when I forget to take my cane to the shops and I bang into people … they look at me because I’m so young and just think I’m being rude,” she said.
“Even when you’re getting a taxi — I’ve had a few say, ‘you’re only going up the road, why can’t you walk?’ Things like that upset me.”
Bird’s trouble’s sadly don’t stop there. In 2008, she underwent emergency surgery after an ectopic pregnancy, which happens when a fertilised egg attaches somewhere outside the uterus. She also had a stroke in 2017 due to a heart condition.
“They told me I have a hole in my heart,” Bird told Woman’s Day in 2018. “I was literally heartbroken. But it makes sense now, why I’m always so tired and unwell, and what caused my stroke.”
That same year, Bird was also nearly evicted from her home, which she shares with her second husband, Dale Sorensen, and their two children, daughter Mia and son Lucas, who has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.
Lucas requires daily medication and physiotherapy, which doesn’t come cheap. Pair that with her own medical expenses, Bird was close to eviction in 2017.
“I’m so scared,” she told Woman’s Day at the time. “One day your kids are cuddled up and warm and safe and just like that, it could all be gone. I owe my kids a warm bed and a safe house, that’s not too much to ask, is it?
“It’s hard to believe I became known as the girl who survived multiple evictions in the Big Brother house, to 14 years later be faced with the real thing,” she continued. “I’ve been having nightmares ever since, wondering where we’re going to go.”
Bird’s financial troubles date back to 2005, when she was scammed out of $40,000 by a conman who had tricked her into thinking he was a television producer. The conman had told her that he wanted to film a pilot episode for a travel series starring Bird.
On the Not Here to Make Friends podcast, Bird explained: “I thought it was legit. He said he didn’t have money and asked to borrow five grand and another five grand and then it all snowballed.”
Despite facing one obstacle after another, Bird is back on Big Brother Australia, and who knows, maybe she will become the first person to win the competition twice.
Big Brother Royalty vs New Contenders Premieres on May 9, on Channel 7 and 7Plus.