Ten thanks God
Ten has turned a loss into a huge ratings win, writes Darren Devlyn
THE 11-year collaboration between Channel 10 and Working Dog produced some great TV success stories.
Russell Coight’s All Aussie Adventures wasn’t what you’d call a resounding critical hit, but pulled big audiences in a tough Sunday timeslot.
The Panel and Thank God You’re Here were not just commercially viable for Ten and Working Dog — audiences and critics loved them.
Thank God proved an instant monster hit, but there’s no question it was a high-risk venture. A certain leap of faith was needed for Ten to back a show some suspected might struggle to connect with audiences.
Given the part it played in Thank God’s enormous success, Ten was always going to be bitter about losing the franchise, for a reported $1.3 million an episode, to fierce rival Channel 7.
The Working Dog guys are adamant the move was not a grab for cash, but designed to expose the show to a new audience.
The team undoubtedly has pumped plenty of that extra cash into making Thank God a more lavish production.
Ten, however, couldn’t contain its disdain over the loss, with head of programming David Mott explaining: ‘‘I know what we put on the table was very significant and we were willing to go there on that, and, truthfully, I thought that would do it, given what we’d all achieved together.’’
The loss, after Ten’s decision to axe Big Brother, forced Ten to commission new shows. Out of the ashes have emerged huge success stories including quiz-comedy show Talkin’ ’Bout Your Generation and MasterChef Australia.
Asked if the ratings for the modestly-produced Talkin’ ’Bout Your Generation have softened the blow of losing TGYH, Ten’s chief executive officer Grant Blackley says: ‘‘For clarity, yes, we were disappointed to lose Thank God. But I must say this on the record. I didn’t think it was appropriate (to talk about the loss) at the time. I don’t think anybody would have believed any commentary we put out at the time.
‘‘We made an aggressive bid for Thank God and when that bid wasn’t accepted, we knew that well before Seven picked up the event. So we started planning quite aggressively for the introduction of new programs. That was early November and I remember it well because I sat with David Mott with a glass of red on Melbourne Cup day.
‘‘ Thank God (going to Seven) had not been announced. We’d put in the most aggressive position we could financially and if that wasn’t going to be accepted we’d move in a different direction. So we started that day a series of investments that began with Recruits and extended to Bondi Rescue, Generation, and MasterChef Australia.
‘‘It was some weeks after that we were told Seven had picked up Thank God. I want to put that straight. I couldn’t tell that story six months ago because nobody would want to listen. We had thought, ‘well, at that price, we can’t go any higher and we don’t wish to go any higher and if someone (Seven) wants to knock themselves out we’ll wish them well and we’ll invest in other things’. Hence all these things (new shows) came alive.’’
Not only is Talkin’ ’Bout Your Generation hugely popular with audiences, it has relaunched the commercial-TV career of Shaun Micallef.
The former lawyer has been in the showbiz and comedy game for more than two decades and has appeared in Full Frontal, the ill-fated Channel 9 variety show The Micallef Program, Welcher and Welcher and SBS’s Newstopia.
ITalkin’ ’Bout Your Generation, PG Channel 10, Tuesday, 7.30pm Generation-gap quiz show Duration: 1 hour T WAS last year’s Newstopia that led many to suspect Micallef’s fan base was of cult proportions and the former Logies host’s prospects of commercial success were behind him.
But Micallef has revelled on Talkin’ ’Bout Your Generation, sharing the spotlight with the show’s razor-sharp team captains Amanda Keller, Charlie Pickering and Josh Thomas.
‘‘Had Thank God not gone to Channel 7, I can’t think they’d (Ten) have had the need for our show, so it’s worked out quite nicely,’’ Micallef says.
‘‘We finished the first 13 episodes a month ago and are coming back for another four episodes.
‘‘We are a little worried about going from 14 to 17 episodes because it sounds a lot of episodes, but it seems to be holding nicely and there are people (viewers) who are still coming to it for the first time.
‘‘Give them what they want for as long as they wish to have it, I think.’’
Razor-sharp: fast thinkers (from left) Amanda Keller, Josh Thomas, Shaun Micallef and Charlie Pickering.