Ten thanks God

Ten has turned a loss into a huge rat­ings win, writes Dar­ren Devlyn

Herald Sun - Switched On - - News -

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.

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