Get­ting away with mur­der

Shaun Mi­callef is tak­ing a big rat­ings gam­ble with not one but two shows clash­ing with My Kitchen Rules, writes Colin Vick­ery

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IS Shaun Mi­callef go­ing to have a grisly time in the TV rat­ings tonight? The Aussie co­me­dian has two TV shows start­ing this evening— and both are up against rat­ings jug­ger­naut My Kitchen Rules.

Mi­callef re­turns with a sec­ond se­ries of comic news re­view Shaun Mi­callef’s Mad As Hell on the ABC at 8pm.

An even big­ger gam­ble looms at 8.30pm with Chan­nel 10’s launch of Mr & Mrs Mur­der, which will be over­lapped by the tail end of MKR.

Mi­callef and Kat Ste­wart play mar­ried crime clean­ers and ama­teur sleuths Char­lie and Ni­cola Buchanan.

The light-hearted mys­tery se­ries harks back to the days of Nick and Nora Charles (Wil­liam Pow­ell and Myrna Loy) in the Thin Man films of the 1930s.

A more re­cent equiv­a­lent is ’ 80s TV se­ries Hart to Hart. Robert Wag­ner and Ste­fanie Pow­ers played Jonathan and Jen­nifer Hart, a wealthy cou­ple that dab­bled in crime solv­ing.

In re­cent weeks, ru­mours spread that Chan­nels 9 and 10 were hold­ing back new pro­grams to avoid go­ing head-to-head with My Kitchen Rules.

Seven’s cook­ing show has been notch­ing up rat­ings of around 2 mil­lion view­ers per episode — hurt­ing ri­val shows in­clud­ing MasterChef: The Pro­fes­sion­als.

Nine’s US drama The Fol­low­ing, with Kevin Ba­con, looks like be­ing de­layed un­til af­ter Easter. Ten has bit­ten the bul­let — go­ing ahead with its plan to start Mr & Mrs Mur­der against the fi­nal stretch of MKR.

If Mi­callef is wor­ried about get­ting hit in the rat­ings, he isn’t show­ing it. He sounds pos­i­tively re­laxed as he dis­cusses Mr & Mrs Mur­der. Maybe that is be­cause Ten was so quick to com­mis­sion the show, which is pro­duced by long-time mate Ja­son Stephens (Killing Time, Devil’s Dust).

‘‘ Mid-way through the year be­fore last we had a meet­ing with Rick Maier (Ten’s head of drama and pro­duc­tion),’’ Mi­callef re­calls.

‘‘ Within 30 sec­onds of us sit­ting down he said ‘ the good news is we want to do it (Mr & Mrs Mur­der)’. We had booked an hour to chat to him, so I spent the rest of the time try­ing not to say any­thing to ruin it.’’

Mr & Mrs Mur­der is a bold risk for Mi­callef, who could have com­fort­ably made com­edy panel show Talkin’ ’Bout Your Gen­er­a­tion for many years to come.

In­stead, Mi­callef is step­ping out of his com­fort zone. He didn’t write the Mr & Mrs Mur­der scripts and he’s not out to get laughs.

Mi­callef has to act. He needs to con­vince TV au­di­ences that he really is a cleaner who can solve crimes.

To­geth­er­ness: Shaun Mi­callef

and Kat Ste­wart in Mr & Mrs Mur­der,

New­stopia.

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