A new beat for TEN
She's seen plenty of change but Wanted host Sandra Sully says energy is returning to TEN.
Anyone who saw her broadcast the 9/11 disaster as it unfolded will never forget it, an indelible memory of her 18 years fronting TEN Late News.
In recent times she has moved to TEN News Sydney as the network undergoes seismic change within. But optimism is returning under TEN’s new management.
“It’s a really exciting place to be again,” she says. “I’ve always loved working at TEN. That’s never changed. But we’ve been on a bit of a rollercoaster, I don’t think there’s any denying that for the last little while.
“It felt like we were in a bit of a plateau. But we’re on the rise, there’s a lot of energy and buzz about. People are pretty excited about the future.”
TEN has recently announced a swathe of new personalities and several new programmes. The first of these premieres tonight, restoring Sully to a national audience once more.
Wanted, produced by Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder, is a new factual crime series detailing unsolved cases in the hope they may trigger clues from viewers and lead to an outcome.
Spanning everything from cold-case murders to major assault, missing persons, sex crimes, cybercrime, and scams, it’s a return to a genre that hasn’t been seen since the demise of Australia’s Most Wanted and Crime Investigation Australia.
“One of the most exciting aspects of it is that there really isn’t anything like it on air at the moment. Hopefully that will be one of the many reasons people decide to tune in and watch,” she says.
“I think people are enormously interested and fascinated with crime. Crime television around the world rates extremely highly.
“Most of us are touched either directly or indirectly by crime. It makes us wonder ‘How would I cope?’ ‘What if it was me?’ ‘It can happen that quickly and that easily.’ So this is a way to empower and galvanise viewers to be aware and also to contribute in whatever way they can to help police crack cold cases and hard cases.”
The show will invite viewers to interact via social media, in conjunction with the Crimestoppers initiative.
“We’re hoping to prompt viewers into triggering memories and conversations that might lead to solving crime cases. That’s the most important part of the show,” Sully explains.
“We’ll be using Crimestoppers which is a real vehicle for people to deliver tip-offs anonymously and that will be a critical element of the show. But also the show’s website as well as Twitter will be avenues where people can make contact with us and we in turn can pass that information onto police.”
However in incorporating social media there are inherent risks. Surely we won’t be seeing tweets with random information flash up on the screen?
“There are all sorts of legal safeguards that have to be considered but I’m not going to go into that in too much detail. Suffice to say that social media is an integral part. Whether it delivers an outcome in the hour that we’re on hour, the day after or the night of, we’re yet to see. That will play out in due course.
“Crimestoppers in every state are supportive and collaborating with us. We couldn’t do this show without police supporting us.
“It’s critical that we act responsibly and of course we’ll be endeavouring to do that. Things like Facebook and Instagram aren’t part of our social media for this show. The protocols aren’t appropriate for us. But I’ll leave that to our legal advisors to manage that.
“It was a real issue for quite a few of us who were involved. Questions we had were about the right protocols being put in place to safeguard, not just us, but the public and families of victims. There’s a real responsibility about putting a show like this to air and we’re doing everything we can to do it right.”
Sully will host the Live show alongside TEN News presenter and former crime reporter Matt Doran. The team includes forensic anthropologist Dr Xanthe Mallett, investigative crime reporter Neil Mercer and former Detective Superintendent Terry Dalton.
As television, the show will also bring a bit of drama via reconstructions, which has seen current affairs shows cop plenty of scorn.
“I think what you’re getting at is that they can seem corny or contrived. Our dramatic reconstructions are based on evidence that police have. We’re not making it up for the story,” Sully insists.
“I’ve been very comfortable with what I’ve seen so far.
“What I’ve noticed in the rehearsals of this show is that it forces you to stop and think. It puts life on hold for a second and you really walk in the shoes of victims’ families and the profound effects that crime has on people and the community is extraordinary. It’s quite gut-wrenching at times and you really feel for those whose lives are on hold, until there’s some resolution in the case.
“It reminds you that every day when you watch the news it’s not just a headline. These are real people whose lives have changed forever and will never be the same.”
When reading items in the News, Sully is mindful that there are real individuals behind each story, and Wanted is a chance to redress the imbalance.
“This has a real community benefit and that’s part of the reason I wanted to be involved. It felt like a natural extension to what I already do. Not having been a victim of crime myself I can’t walk in the shoes of some of these people who have experienced quite traumatic incidents.
“Even though I sit there on the News I’m aware that in every story I report on most of those people never expected their world to collapse or their lives to change forever.
“This show will remind us that as a community we need each other and we have to help each other.”
Wanted airs Live 8:30pm Mondays on TEN.