Gruen’s Russel Howcroft backs Wonderland for the win

2013-08-11_0059It was an ironic case of a Gruen star endorsing a rival programme in Wonderland when Russel Howcroft introduced the cast of the new TEN drama to Melbourne media on Friday.

Howcroft, who joined TEN at the start of the year, backed the new show, happily overlooking that he will be appearing in Gruen Nation on ABC1 in the very same timeslot: 8:30pm Wednesdays.

But you have to toe the company line when you’re the Network Executive General Manager.

Cast members including Tim Ross, Emma Lung, Brooke Satchwell, Glenn McMillan, Ben Mingay and Jessica Tovey dined with media in Melbourne’s Chapel Street precinct.

Former ad man Howcroft said, “Being a brand person, just the name and the fact that there is reality to the name with a street and building, (Wonderland) is a very evocative name. There’s an opportunity to build something brilliant under that. To look at it through my prism, the brand prism, I think there’s something really tremendous there.”

Meanwhile Ben Mingay was hoping the show’s “F.A.T.” nights (Food Appreciation Time) would catch on around the country.

“F.A.T. night is the one night of the week where everybody steers away from their normal lives of stressing…. basically everybody’s phone goes into the bucket at the start of the night, and it’s our chance of discussing relevant issues and ‘who’s getting on with who,'” he said.

“In a sense the outside world disappears and you escape into Wonderland on F.A.T. night because it’s all about food appreciation and relationships.”


  1. Armchair Analyst

    Yes the promos look good but if it lacks substance in the sript the story line or the acting abilitiy/believeability of the cast then this will tank. I hope this does work out for TEN they desperately need it.

  2. @Kenny: Yep. Wonderland was going fine for decades until it got sold to an overseas buyer who ran it into the ground and then sold the land off. Western Sydney will be getting their own Wet n Wild soon though.

  3. “Wonderland”. Wasn’t that the name of the theme park in Western Sydney that collapsed in a heap?
    An omen? “(Wonderland) is a very evocative name”.
    If you say so Russell, if you say so.

  4. Secret Squirrel

    @TasTVcameraman – heh, so you’ll be watching the ads on Gruen but skipping them when you playback Wonderland?

    Haven’t watched Ten “live” since the third ep of Under the Dome so haven’t seen any ads for this but that photo screams “Avoid!”. Gruen and Hamster for me.

    If the first ep gets rave reviews I’ll be able to catch it on one of its 17 “encores” on 10, One, or Eleven.

  5. ‘The daily lives, loves and relationships of young couples living in a block of flats.’ How refreshingly original………..I’m going to throw up.

    Wonderland may be the unlikely and dumb name for the building, but what is its street number?
    No. 96 perhaps?

  6. I might give this show a go. I didnt mind the previews and its got good people in it. Ive noticed some rafters actors are in it and Jessica Tovey is a great actress.

  7. TasTVcameraman

    Simple solution really watch Gruen and record Wonderland. And you have the best of both worlds as I am wondering if it is somewhat the same as Number 96.

  8. Russel has no idea.

    The title and name of the building are the first glaring problem.

    Feels like a huge risk for Ten to be commissioning 22 off the bat (well just not well thought out). There isn’t much upside in that risk for 2013 given they could have commissioned two six parters and an eight parter to test the water. One of those works, you commission it for 22 the following year.

  9. Wednesday is just the night where everything that rates too well to on later in the week but not well enough to be on earlier in the week ends up.

    Half the TV I watch is on already on Wednesday night and I don’t have time for anymore.

  10. To be clearer with my comment. I meant that after the ad break pop-ups say “avoid this channel as much as you can”. But surprise pop-ups say “quit this channel.” Of course the irony is pop-ups were created because people skipped ads.

    But if you have no pop-ups then people would have to watch at least the TV Show ads to find out what’s on. Instead the pop-ups and watermarks allow the audience to largely skip all the ads if they want. How is that a clever idea? Catering to people that skip the ads? As well as punishing those that don’t. Imagine the logical outcome.

  11. @GuanoLad – My thoughts exactly.

    I generally am eager to support Aussie drama, but I feel uninspired to watch Wonderland if the promos are anything to go by.

    I’ll be sticking with Gruen.

  12. I can’t watch either. Even if I wasn’t watching another channel. I just can’t take the surprise pop-ups or advertising. If that idea persists I think I have to give up practically all shows on any channel that think it a good idea. That includes Seven and Ten. I already gave up during 8-10.30pm most shows on the ABC. I think it’s just a matter of time.

  13. Has Howcroft provided some spin justifying how he can appear on a rival network on one of their most watched shows when his own network is an absolute basket case and has a new show premiering in the same timeslot.

    I find it wrong personally.

    • Granted, it’s a unique situation, and I can’t think of a precedent. But Russel is an integral part of Gruen. Wouldn’t be the same without him, and it was always part of his agreement to join TEN.

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