Not just an­other Sun­day night

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide - - DAR­REN DEVLYN

AX­ING cur­rent-af­fairs show Sun­day, Chan­nel 9 chief David Gyn­gell says, was the tough­est de­ci­sion he’s had to make in tele­vi­sion.

The show’s re­porter Ross Coulthart winning the Gold Walk­ley five months af­ter the ax­ing, Gyn­gell adds, shows it was the wrong de­ci­sion jour­nal­is­ti­cally.

‘‘But,’’ Gyn­gell says, ‘‘it was the right de­ci­sion fi­nan­cially’’.

The ax­ing of Sun­day af­ter 27 years sig­nalled ‘‘the death of qual­ity news and cur­rent af­fairs on Aus­tralian com­mer­cial tele­vi­sion’’, for­mer ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of 60 Min­utes Ger­ald Stone says.

Nine’s de­ci­sion to kill the show for fi­nan­cial rea­sons had a deep im­pact on Coulthart, who shared the Walk­ley with Nick Far­row for their in­ves­ti­ga­tion of a doc­tor’s al­leged mal­prac­tice in the NSW coastal town of Bega.

‘‘Like ev­ery­body, I was feel­ing in­cred­i­bly bleak about the whole in­dus­try,’’ Coulthart says of the time around the ax­ing.

Coulthart’s faith, how­ever, has been re­stored by Chan­nel 7’s dar­ing de­ci­sion to launch Sun­day Night, a cur­rent-af­fairs show the net­work hopes will not only de­liver big sto­ries, but di­lute the ap­peal of Nine’s 60 Min­utes.

Sun­day Night, launch­ing on Fe­bru­ary 8 at 6.30pm, will be co-hosted by Mike Munro and Chris Bath and fea­ture live and taped seg­ments and a stu­dio au­di­ence.

Once a story has gone to air, the show will turn to live in­ter­views and the stu­dio au­di­ence for re­ac­tion.

Coulthart, who has been fil­ing sto­ries for Sun­day Night since De­cem­ber, says: ‘‘I’m happy as a pig in mud . . . there’s been a lean to­wards an­o­dyne and limp cur­rent af­fairs (in com­mer­cial TV), but we are be­ing en­cour­aged to make a show that is dif­fer­ent.

‘‘It’s slick, beau­ti­fully shot. The guid­ance I’m get­ting from (co-ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers) Mark Llewellyn and Adam Boland is to go out and find great yarns.

‘‘I think we are in­sult­ing peo­ple’s in­tel­li­gence if we be­lieve we have to dumb it down to make it en­ter­tain­ing.

‘‘We don’t want to be pointy-headed and bor­ing, but we do want to tell great sto­ries.’’

In the pic­ture: Ross Coulthart is now fil­ing sto­ries for Sun­day Night.

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