Dear James Warburton,
Welcome to your new job running my network.
My network I hear you say? Yes.
As a viewer, that’s the way I feel about my Television. It’s the way I feel about all of the channels I have watched for decades. TEN and I have been through a lot together (ask some long-standing employees about ‘pink custard’ and they’ll tell you what I mean). Execs are custodians. They come and go, but the viewer and the brand are a constant.
Last year I felt like TEN forgot about me as a viewer. It was a year of money over our relationship. TEN’s quest to shift from being a youthful network to a family network was confused by also wanting to be a news network. Goodbye Video Hits, AFL, so long Sandra Sully, The Simpsons and Neighbours got moved down the road. They destroyed Good News Week too, James. In came two and a half hours of News and Current Affairs, George Negus, Andrew Bolt. It was like they wanted me to be somebody else.
I was as sorry as everybody that Negus didn’t fire, but after 20 years of Neighbours and The Simpsons this was cultural shock. Square peg. Round hole.
They lost Hamish and Andy and then Big Brother. Rove is now on Foxtel. Shaun Micallef is doing a news comedy show for the ABC. Who was minding the shop?
Then they cloned MasterChef, a show we all cherished, into a copycat format and bugger me they went and insulted me on their biggest night of viewing by forcing me to watch The Renovators. After that genius move I really didn’t feel like watching Renovators again. And I may have taken out a little more angst by snubbing Junior MasterChef, which is a shame because the kids looked pretty talented. I just wasn’t in the mood.
They’ve replayed Modern Family so many times it’s hard to know what night has first-run episodes. Viewing should not be such hard work. Glee‘s been through the machine so many times its lost its ‘cool.’ Not sure how you can get it back.
Chrissie Swan and Ding Dong have left The Circle, dammit. What I hear of New Zealand’s Paul Henry does not encourage me (why must every breakfast show have a loose-cannon?) when you’ve got Hamish Macdonald sitting right under your nose. Hello?
Good luck with Ready Steady Cook if you decide to bring that back. Colin Lane is a nice bloke but I’ve never seen such a groundswell of disdain from readers against a host replacement (now 1270 comments and still climbing, a site record). Graham Norton was too, too fab on ABC. I don’t think he is the answer for Saturday nights, but then chopping and changing Fridays and Saturdays would be worse.
But let me be more positive.
I do like the sound of Brothers in Arms. I think I like Underground: The Julian Assange Story even more. All the signs for Young Talent Time look encouraging. Offspring has blossomed into a terrific vehicle. I’m sorry to see Rush go, but glad Your Gen is back. Puberty Blues has me intrigued, but I’ll reserve judgement on Reef Doctors. When Can of Worms comes back without Dicko, please ask Gretel if she is busy? Funny, smart, female -does commercial TV have any room for these?
I’ll be back for MasterChef, reservedly. Your launch will be crucial. I hope it has more Mystery Boxes and less Dalai Lamas. And can we please have some fair Immunity challenges? Sorry, The Biggest Loser doesn’t attract me. Never really has.
I’m looking forward to Homeland, I’ve heard great things. The Good Wife remains underrated. Hawaii Five-0 is overrated.
So what do I want to see on my Channel TEN under our reign?
A return to irreverent telly and bold ideas. Remember ‘Tuesday Night’s a Bitch?’ Remember that Celebrity Support Group promo with Shaun Micallef and Matt Preston? Remember when Sunday nights were about event viewing? And they used to be L-i-v-e. The Project must be one of the few Live shows you have now? There’s just not that much sense of danger. Did we all grow up and lose our edge?
Please return your 5pm news to one hour and offer me something at 6pm. You could do a lot worse than returning Neighbours from ELEVEN -it would get you Drama points, no? If it means ‘What plays on ELEVEN, stays on ELEVEN’ is broken, so be it. And must new Simpsons play against new Glee? I like both, James.
ONE sends out confused signals. Is it a sports channel? A bloke’s channel? It barely even registers with me as a viewing option. At least I understood what it was when it was 24/7 sports. I quite like the way ELEVEN has shaped up (American Horror Story could have become your new Supernatural had it been on TEN), but beware: viewers are grumbling about sitcoms reverting back to episodes they have already seen umpteen times. Have you seen what they did to GO!?
For all these ideas and notions (and you can take ’em or leave ’em, I am only one opinion), at the core of restoring your brand after Lachlan’s year of playing ‘bad cop’ is this: Local Drama.
We afford prestige to networks based on their success in on-going local Drama series. You can play all the watercooler Reality and US imports you like, but local drama gets you respect.
Finally, please limit timeslot changes, start shows on time with an accurate EPG, don’t oversell your shows in promos, stop recycling Back to the Future and show me a network that has a sense of fun again.
You’re looking after my network now, James.
I’m counting on you.