Two chicks in charge, but you’d hardly know it! Ten­nis any­one?


Did you get up at 5:30am yes­ter­day to watch his­tory be­ing made?

I speak, of course, of the de­but, on Nine, of the all-woman To­day Show panel.

Two chicks in charge, for the first time ever! It was ground­break­ing, it was his­tory-mak­ing, it was like a gen­der moon land­ing … it was ac­tu­ally meh.

First prob­lem, and OK I’m a news­pa­per re­porter, what would I know. But if you were Nine, and you’d gone to all that trou­ble — sack­ing Karl on his hon­ey­moon, hir­ing a woman to re­place him, trum­pet­ing the whole first-ever all-woman panel thing — wouldn’t you ac­tu­ally open with the all-woman panel?

Or would you do as Nine did, and open with a shot of a panel of five peo­ple, two of them men, all crammed to­gether, all dressed the same — sooth­ing shades of blue and white — thereby deny­ing the two women, Ge­orgie Gard­ner, and her new co-host, Deb Knight — their big mo­ment? Why? Nine only knows. Ge­orgie spoke first, say­ing hello, and look at me, not hav­ing to sit here, barely tol­er­at­ing Karl any­more.

No, she didn’t say that. She said hello, and wel­come to the ten­nis.

Be­cause Nine this year, it doesn’t have cricket. It has the Aus­tralian Open ten­nis, and it’s the ten­nis, not the his­tory-mak­ing all-women break­fast show, that really has Nine’s in­ter­est.

Hope­fully also yours, be­cause for­get what you’ve read about Nine hang­ing ev­ery­thing on the new lineup on To­day, ev­ery­thing is ac­tu­ally rid­ing on the ten­nis.

Ten­nis is live sport, which is all any­one watches any­more, other than No­nen­ti­ties in the Jun­gle, which is some sort of per­sonal sham­ing show they have on Ten.

So, any­way, Ge­orgie said hello, and wel­come to the ten­nis, and wel­come also Deb, who is mak­ing her de­but to­day on this panel.

Then came some jokes about how the two women were now “part­ners in crime” and how ev­ery­one felt like this was the first day of school, which was ridicu­lous.

Ge­orgie and Deb aren’t new­bies. They’re old, safe hands, hugely ex­pe­ri­enced, and well­known to au­di­ences.

Rad­i­cal? Their ap­point­ment was an ex­tremely safe move.

Any­way, time for the news. The first story was about the weather. It’s go­ing to be hot in Mel­bourne this week, but I mean, it’s Jan­uary, so why was ev­ery­one so ex­cited?

Be­cause they’ve got the ten­nis, which must now be played in the heat and that, in break­fast TV land, is what passes for a yarn.

Next came a story about Mar­got Rob­bie’s “amaz­ing trans­for­ma­tion” (she puts on a wig and make-up); an­other about free­way signs be­ing taken down in Mel­bourne be­cause they’re fall­ing on cars; and then it was back to a story about, yes, the ten­nis. A pint­sized ten­nis prodigy, I be­lieve.

I left the couch at this point to go to a morn­ing ex­er­cise class, which may sound like a dere­lic­tion of jour­nal­is­tic duty, but I felt ab­so­lutely con­fi­dent the show would still be go­ing when I got back.

And I was right. And not only that, they were still talk­ing about the ten­nis. And the weather.

No, wait, here’s some­thing dif­fer­ent: it’s the Prime Min­is­ter, pop­ping by to say hello.

Deb used the op­por­tu­nity to slyly ask him about the Lib­eral Party’s prob­lem with women.

“We are start­ing with two fe­male hosts here to­day,’’ she said. ‘‘What are you do­ing about get­ting more women into the ranks?” Not much, he said. No, he didn’t. He said some­thing about he wants to elim­i­nate the gen­der pay gap, be­cause of how aw­ful it is. Like he has to tell Nine that? Lisa Wilkin­son, any­one? Then it was back to the news, or rather, to news about the weather; plus pic­tures from “the Aus­tralian Open red car­pet” (not to quib­ble, but the car­pet was green).

Then came an in­ter­view with Lley­ton He­witt, who once played ten­nis; and an­other with Jim Courier (ditto).

Then came some peo­ple dressed up as ten­nis balls, danc­ing around some­thing they’re call­ing the Peo­ple’s Court, and look, we could go on about ten­nis all day, which they cer­tainly will, To­day and to­mor­row, and who can blame them?

Live sport — cricket, foot­ball, and in Nine’s case, ten­nis — is the only hope free-to-air has got, and they know it.

Four-and-a-half hours into the new, all-women break­fast show, you knew it, too.

Live sport — cricket, foot­ball, and in Nine’s case, ten­nis — is the only hope free-toair has got

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