Ten’s faith in new Project
Single mum Carrie Bickmore welcomes the challenge of balancing a hectic home life with a busy TV role, writes Darren Devlyn
THE Project team has made a habit of silencing the doomsayers. When the show formerly known as the 7PM Project premiered in 2009, it was widely suggested Carrie Bickmore and co were taking a massive punt by signing on for a dicey venture in a timeslot that had, over a long period, delivered Channel 10 a revolving door of failures.
Initially, the doubts about the show were hard to ignore. The 7PM Project was going to offer a potentially awkward mix of news, chat and comedy. Ten seemed overly optimistic the show would appeal to a demographic — young — that simply wasn’t into earlyevening TV news shows.
The 7PM Project made a promising debut, reaching nearly 1.3 million viewers.
But by February 2010, some media commentators were adamant the time had come for a mercy killing.
Gradually, The 7PM Project found its feet. Bickmore, Charlie Pickering and Dave Hughes discovered a chemistry that was lacking in the early days and rotating panellists including George Negus, Steve Price, Kitty Flanagan and Bondi Vet’s Chris Brown came to terms with the show’s objective — to be a news show with a twist rather than a comedy show that does a little bit of news.
The show, however, has been thrown something of a curve ball following the decision to axe 6.30pm with George Negus.
There is no doubt The Project faces a challenge to rate well across its new one- hour slot, but Bickmore says she was only momentarily thrown by the idea of extending the show.
‘‘ It was mixed feelings,’’ she says of her initial reaction to The 7PM Project becoming The Project.
‘‘ There’s a lot of excitement about it because there are so many times we’d like to ask one more question, so many times we’d love to have a guest on for that extra minute or love to get one more of Dave’s (Hughes) funnies away. It’s great that it can now happen every night on the show.
‘‘ A Current Affair and Today Tonight are power- houses. They’ve been doing it for years. They do their thing. It’s very different to what we do. We are offering an alternative to that.
‘‘ Going to an hour gives us that chance to just breathe that little bit more.’’
Bickmore is a single mum to Ollie, 4, following the death of husband Greg Lange last year. Lange had been diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2001.
Bickmore confesses she pondered what impact the show’s changes would have on her work/life balance.
In the early stages of motherhood Bickmore had enjoyed having a ‘‘ massively supportive husband who loved being at home’’.
‘‘ Obviously there’s also that feeling of being a single mum with a little four-year-old boy.
‘‘ Any mum will tell you that getting the balance right between work and home is always hard and I had just managed to get that happening. When I heard (about the expanded format) I just went, ‘ Noooooo’,’’ Bickmore adds with a laugh.
‘‘ I think back to this morning. I did three loads of washing, emptied the dishwasher, got Ollie ready for a sleepover, made his lunch, made my lunch, got him off to kinder, all within an hour.
‘‘ Every single morning, no matter how tired I am, I see these eyes (Ollie) beaming down on me from beside my bed. He’s just so happy. I do love that time with him. He jumps into bed and we have a snuggle.
‘‘ His favourite part of the day is when we sit in bed at night and read stories.
‘‘ This year I’ve definitely realised he is the most important thing to me. The great thing about Ten is their support. They know I have a little boy and how important it is I spend time with him.’’ The Project Channel 10, 6.30pm, weeknights
Co-host Carrie Bickmore says the new one-hour format gives the show a chance to breathe.