To a certain sub-sector of Australians, “Free The Refugees” are words that make up an iconic TV moment.
They're what were displayed on the sign Big Brother contestant Merlin held up during his eviction show protest in 2004.
But what has happened to Merlin in the years since his silent protest made headlines? It turns out he’s now a dad who works in the corporate world, but he doesn’t regret a moment of his Big Brother experience.
Merlin told news.com.au that he went into the Big Brother house to “deliver a message”, and he had the sign sewn into the shirt he wore on the first night. Although security patted him down, they didn’t discover the sign.
“Then I wore that same shirt on eviction night and ripped out the sign and the tape as I walked toward the stage. I’ve been skydiving three times, but the adrenaline rush of that moment is unlike anything I’ll ever experience again in my life,” Merlin said.
Merlin covered his mouth with a piece of tape, and refused to answer any of host Gretel Killeen’s questions.
Merlin said, “She was trying to convince me to speak and to discuss the issue on-air. To me the impact of the moment came from it being a silent protest. She’s on the public record on several occasions since, declaring her personal support for the stance that I took — and saying she regrets not being more overtly supportive at the time. It was a difficult situation that I put her in but I respect and am grateful for her for taking that position in the media in the years since the protest.”
Merlin spent twelve months after the show campaigning on the issue of refugees in detention centres, including speaking at protests, schools, universities and conducting media interviews and meeting politicians.
When asked what he’s doing now, Merlin explained, “I have a beautiful wife and we have a four-year-old son and two-year-old daughter together. I work for the largest enterprise cloud technology company in the world, leading a team of specialist account execs. It’s an inspiring company in terms of our technology and innovation, our corporate culture and our focus on philanthropy. Fair to say I’m well on the way to being a middle-aged corporate dad — in the best possible way. Very grateful for the life I have.”
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