WHY WE NEED ORIG­I­NAL SHOWS LIKE THE PRO­JECT

Life & Style Weekend - - OPINION - IN­SIDER WORDS: SEANNA CRONIN

Emo­tions ran high when The Pro­ject cel­e­brated its 10th birth­day last Fri­day.

There were laughs, tears and heart­felt speeches dur­ing the special two-hour show, which broad­cast from a special stu­dio in Mel­bourne’s South Bank, with a large au­di­ence of special guests min­gling and adding to the cel­e­bra­tory at­mos­phere.

Its hosts have made no se­cret of the fact the award-win­ning cur­rent af­fairs show would not be on the air a decade later with­out the sup­port of the net­work.

“I was only meant to be the news girl,” orig­i­nal an­chor Carrie Bick­more said of the show’s first few months.

It was a rocky start, with reporters James Mathi­son and Ruby Rose quickly dumped in favour of the chemistry be­tween Bick­more, Char­lie Pick­er­ing and Dave Hughes.

Pick­er­ing and Hughes have long since moved on, mak­ing way for Gold Lo­gie win­ner Waleed Aly and funny man Peter Hel­liar, but it’s tes­ta­ment to the tight-knit bond of the show’s stars and crew that ev­ery­one sig­nif­i­cantly in­volved in The Pro­ject over the years, aside from Rose, was in at­ten­dance in some form.

From Dr Chris Brown to Magda Szuban­ski and Kitty Flana­gan, as well as Pick­er­ing and Ge­orge Ne­gus con­fer­enc­ing in from over­seas, it really felt like an ex­tended fam­ily re­union.

A lengthy blooper reel pro­vided some of the fun­ni­est mo­ments and footage of Sa­muel John­son’s late sis­ter Con­nie brought many in the crowd to tears.

Af­ter the official broad­cast wrapped up, Ten’s chief con­tent of­fi­cer Bev­er­ley Mcgar­vey and ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Craig Campbell re­called his unique pitch for The Pro­ject 11 years ago.

Us­ing singer Brit­ney Spears’ fa­mous melt­down when she shaved her head as an ex­am­ple, Campbell re-framed the celebrity fod­der as a men­tal health story.

Even if he didn’t have all the de­tails ironed out, Campbell’s vision for an orig­i­nal Aus­tralian format was clear enough and it has car­ried on through the show’s evo­lu­tion over the past decade.

“We made Aus­tralia feel some­thing,” he said. “It is a gift to make some­thing that mat­ters ev­ery f------ night.”

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