Not just another Sunday night
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.