Brekky ban­ter

Ten is hop­ing to change the way view­ers start their day with two new morn­ing pro­grams. Guy Davis speaks with some of the movers and shak­ers be­hind Wake Up and Stu­dio 10.

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The early hours of the morn­ing are shap­ing up as one of the most com­pet­i­tive times­lots on Aus­tralian tele­vi­sion.

On the com­mer­cial net­works, Seven and Nine have been duk­ing it out for years, their break­fast pro­grams Sun­rise and To­day locked in an on­go­ing rivalry.

And Ten’s re­cent ef­fort to com­pete or even carve out its own niche with the short­lived Break­fast in 2012 was an ill- fated ex­per­i­ment.

But the net­work isn’t dwelling on the past. In fact, for a while now it’s been de­vel­op­ing an all­new ap­proach to the dawn times­lot, re­cruit­ing pro­ducer Adam Boland – per­haps best known for his rev­o­lu­tion­ary re- tai­lor­ing of Sun­rise a decade ago – as its di­rec­tor of morn­ing tele­vi­sion.

And Boland clearly means busi­ness. Not only is he tak­ing

Ion the Sun­rise/ To­day du­op­oly with the new break­fast pro­gram Wake Up, but he’s also go­ing up against Nine’s Morn­ings and Seven’s The Morn­ing Show with a panel pro­gram ti­tled Stu­dio 10.

Fine- tun­ing both shows in the lead- up to their Novem­ber 4 pre­miere, Boland has been get­ting into work around 2am each day, keen to en­sure no el­e­ment of the

Rowe: “I can’t re­mem­ber the last

time I’ve had so much fun.”

new pro­gram­ming es­capes his gaze.

“Why am I do­ing this again?” he said with a laugh.

“Well, the free­dom of break­fast tele­vi­sion is some­thing that can be hard to sur­ren­der. There’s ac­tu­ally some­thing quite ad­dic­tive about it. You need to know a lit­tle about ev­ery­thing, and you can never get bored. You walk out at the end of the show elated or de­flated – and ei­ther way you’re ex­hausted – but you can’t wait to do it all over again.”

Boland says a lot has changed in terms of view­ing habits and per­cep­tions since his Sun­rise stint, and he wants Ten’s early pro­gram­ming bloc to re­flect that.

“We want to re­flect 2013 go­ing into 2014, and we want it to be young at heart,” he said.

“The ini­tial chal­lenge we set our­selves is cre­at­ing some­thing that is still main­stream but that’s also dif­fer­ent in the way that peo­ple are con­sum­ing news dif­fer­ently.”

In the case of Wake Up, that can be seen in ev­ery­thing from its line- up of pre­sen­ters – Natar­sha Belling, Natasha Ex­elby and James Mathi­son ( or Tarsh, Tash and Matho, as they’ve been nick­named) – to its in­no­va­tive stu­dio lo­ca­tion with its back­drop of Syd­ney’s Manly Beach.

“We wanted it to gen­uinely look dif­fer­ent,” said Boland. “And I don’t get sick of look­ing at the beach. We had the most beau­ti­ful sun­rise I’ve ever seen last week, and we cap­tured that, then two days later we had a vi­cious storm tear through the place and it looked just as spec­tac­u­lar. Mother Na­ture is a ter­rific pro­ducer. It’s stuff you can’t de­sign but it just makes the show.”

Chem­istry be­tween the hosts is some­thing else that makes a show, and Boland worked long and hard to find just the right mix of peo­ple

for Wake Up and for Stu­dio 10, which will have a reg­u­lar panel of pre­sen­ters made up of Ita But­trose, Sarah Har­ris, Jes­sica Rowe and Joe Hilde­brand.

“Chem­istry is so im­por­tant, and th­ese shows live or die on the abil­ity of th­ese hosts to have a gen­uine con­ver­sa­tion, one that is halfin­ter­est­ing to peo­ple other than them,” Boland said.

“I think for that to hap­pen we needed peo­ple who com­ple­mented one another – not nec­es­sar­ily agreed with one another but didn’t al­ways dis­agree with one another.”

That is cer­tainly the case with Wake Up’s trio of hosts ( the show also fea­tures Nuala Hafner as its Mel­bournebased news­reader), with Belling, Ex­elby and Mathi­son clearly hav­ing found a nat­u­ral, ban­ter­ing rhythm.

And Ex­elby, a news reporter and fre­quent guest on The Project, ad­mits that she and Belling in par­tic­u­lar “def­i­nitely come from dif­fer­ent worlds” but their chem­istry, even be­fore ac­tu­ally au­di­tion­ing to­gether, couldn’t be de­nied.

“Adam over­heard Tarsh and I talk­ing in the make- up room and fig­ured there might be some­thing there,” she said.

“We didn’t feel as if we were au­di­tion­ing; we were just hav­ing a very or­ganic con­ver­sa­tion. And it went from there. It’s just that in­tan­gi­ble thing. With Tarsh, there would be many is­sues we don’t nec­es­sar­ily agree on but there is a mu­tual re­spect and a friend­ship there. And a lot of laugh­ter.”

Rowe, re­turn­ing to a full­time tele­vi­sion role as part of the Stu­dio 10 line- up af­ter six years of jug­gling part- time work and the rais­ing of two small chil­dren, has much the same opin­ion.

“Sit­ting to­gether for two and a half hours a day, ev­ery day, talk­ing about a mas­sive range of topics, well, you of­ten don’t have a chance to do that with your clos­est friends,” she said.

“It’s lovely to have that op­por­tu­nity. We’re all very dif­fer­ent peo­ple in terms of our views and opin­ions but we do like each other and we do get on.”

Like Wake Up, Stu­dio 10 aims to of­fer what Rowe calls “plenty of light and shade”.

“We’re talk­ing about ev­ery­thing from the very se­ri­ous to the very light,” she said. “Be­ing a panel- based show, there’s room for what Ita has to say, what Joe has to say and what Sarah has to say.

“It’s a con­ver­sa­tion, and the con­ver­sa­tion is go­ing to be dif­fer­ent ev­ery morn­ing. I can’t re­mem­ber the last time I’ve had so much fun.”

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