Axed: Ben Elton Live from Planet Earth

EXCLUSIVE: Channel Nine has axed Ben Elton Life from Planet Earth after just three episodes.

A fourth show will not go to air next week.

The live comedy show started out with just 455,000 viewers but dropped to 384,000 last week. Last night a delayed show airing at the later time of 10:40pm against coverage of the NZ earthquake managed 189,000.

It follows disappointing reviews for the show which was one of the network’s bold moves and part of its re-branding as “The Home of Comedy.”

Elton, whose previous achievements include writing Blackadder and The Young Ones, had stressed the show needed time to develop.

Addressing criticism the show was ‘too smutty’ he recently told TV Tonight, “You get no previews, you get no second shots and I think for a first show we did bloody well and if we were a bit rude then fair enough, ok, I’m sorry.”

Nine Entertainment Co. CEO David Gyngell recently said of the Elton show, “We continue to support local and international comedy, and it’s always better to chance you arm and have a go than to take the safe way out and do nothing.”

The show was produced by FremantleMedia Australia.

UPDATED: A Nine spokesperson said: “Ben and his team have done a fantastic job uncovering new Australian talent and we appreciate all of their hard work and dedication. We are all very proud of the show but unfortunately it has not found the audience we had hoped for. We thank Ben and all the cast and crew for their commitment and wish them all the best.”

Michael Healy, Director of Television said: “Comedy is always risky, and live comedy is the riskiest of all. We are pleased to have taken the chance to support the local industry.”

Ian Hogg, CEO of FremantleMedia Australia, said: “We have immense respect for Ben. Through our development deal, we look forward to some exciting comedy and drama projects in the future.”


  1. Secret Squïrrel

    Wow! – 110+ comments. A few saying it should have been given a fairer go (esp with Ep 3 being bumped at the last minute) and even less actually positive. I think that there is quite often a bit of a skewing of comments toward the negative side on most of the polarising issues on this blog, but it’s still a broad indicator that there are a lot more detractors than supporters. Must be close to a record number of negative posts on the one article.

  2. The last nights ratings show there’s at least 189,000 people out there whose lips move when they write their own name. I didn’t think anything could be worse than George Negus’ light newsfotainment, but Elton was it.
    Read a book, or go outside and climb a tree.

  3. From I saw of the show, i just didn’t find it funny. That being said, it shouldn’t have been canned so soon. It should have been given a few weeks to find its feet. Had all else failed, it could have been pre-recorded and put on a later hour. So there you have it, a new show has 3 weeks to make it or break it.

  4. Someone should have warned Ben that Nine now live by the Underbelly motto ‘It’s a jungle out there”. A guarantee of four shows means nothing at Nine.

  5. If you’re going to make a show and not learn from the mistakes of Let Loose Live, let alone have been aware of what happened to LLL, then you’re going to fail. It’s a failure on the team and producers to not have created something genuinely funny that is on par with foreign comedy productions from Britain and America.

  6. Sure, Elton does seem to deserve the lions share of the blame for LFPE’s failure (and his foolish, defensive attacks on the Twitter critics didn’t help), but it’s plainly apparent that there’s an ongoing problem with local comedy on commercial television, and it appears to be at the level of the suits. Maybe, just maybe, the accumulated debris of LFPE, Double Take, The Wedge, The White Room, Let Loose Live, David Tench Tonight, The Nation and other terrible commercial comedy shows will prompt a shift in thinking on behalf of the network execs, most of whom seem to have tastes stuck a good 30 years in the past.

    Just let the damn writers and performers do their job, and stop interfering and toning down the material lest Beryl from Mornington doesn’t “get it”. Also, it’s worth noting that the participants of all of those appalling failures have been involved in genuinely good comedy shows on other channels (both before and since), so one really must wonder what’s going on at a higher level.

    SBS and the ABC don’t seem to have this kind of ongoing problem with their comedy programming, nor (to a lesser degree) do the local comedy shows produced for cable.

  7. Ben Elton comes out and basically craps all over our national sport in the ads previewing his show during the cricket coverage which would have lost him viewers before he started and now, he suddenly finds that his abysmal show that 5-year olds are too mature to find funny is a complete unmitigated failure, and he’s surprised?

  8. I think this is a fairly sad decision for Australian television comedy. At the moment there are no locally produced sitcoms airing that I am aware of and precious little sketch comedy.

    Let Loose Live remains one of the best comedy shows ever to come out of this country despite only surviving two episodes (I can remember my whole family literally on the floor rolling around we found it so funny) and whilst Live From Planet Earth had a lot of problems it did have enough talent to potentially develop into something worthwhile and entertaining.

    As other posters have said this may scare the networks even further away from local comedy production and the money will likely be spent on yet another cooking show or news broadcast. Personally I want to be spared seeing paedophiles and the like being given a ‘second chance’ on a cooking show or seeing the latest developments in Lindsay Lohan’s life on a so-called news broadcast.

  9. @bankrupt – definitely a coincidence.

    Although, I do love your threats of a Hey Hey fan uprising. The voices of Hey Hey fans will be heard. They will get what they want. If they don’t Channel 9 will suffer. Hilarious.

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