Dear Ita

Dear Ita

Firstly I was pretty impressed that you ever agreed to the grind of morning television with those early rises. If it wasn’t for the 9am ratings ritual I would be lucky to haul my arse out of bed some days.

Yet there you were, the woman who created Cleo, who took on Kerry Packer, who stood up for those with HIV / AIDS when everyone had been spooked by the Grim Reaper campaign… there you were on my screen day in, day out tackling the minutiae that is morning television.

That meant having an opinion on everything from politics to celebrity to dogs crapping on the studio floor. It meant smiling through gritted teeth at launch when a water taxi stunt was the trip from hell. It meant having to watch Joe Hildebrand do a nudie run, donning silly costumes, turning up at network functions for shows you’ve probably never heard of let alone seen, getting your head around social media and clickbait headlines, learning the name of the latest CEO, and putting up with advertorials for all kinds of nonsense products.

I’d like to buy a Nutrabullet please.

And all this in the face of ratings that are dwarfed by the competition despite the fact yours offers several points of difference in a cookie-cutter landscape.

But it was with some disappointment that I watched your farewell yesterday. It just didn’t feel right. Jessica Rowe was sent off with all manner of tributes, tears, flowers, montages, costumes and castmates. I wasn’t sure if she had done 4 years or 40 years with the show. Yours was reduced to 2 segments and a bunch of flowers they had already given to you the day before.

I’d like to buy a treadmill please.

Admittedly, the lovely Sarah Harris told us you didn’t want any fuss (and it was also ANZAC Day, a day for Diggers). I was presuming it was also short notice until you revealed you had actually resigned 2 days before Jessica Rowe. Huh? Talk about a twist.

And while I’m not about to presume we know all, what should have been a fond farewell was one of the year’s most awkward telly moments, due to the silence of Denise Drysdale. This reminded me of Sam Newman’s silent spat on The Footy Show. It stood out for what was not said, rather than what we heard and for the awkward way Joe and Sarah danced around the bleedingly obvious. The network has been denying any rift. Frankly I don’t know when they last looked at their own show.

Perhaps at this point in one’s TV career we are no longer happy to maintain appearances. I just feel pretty sad that two iconic women have clearly reached an impasse that there are barely exchanges on screen anymore….

I’d like to buy an ab-belt please.

Admittedly Australia has a seemingly-endless fascination with the backstage drama of morning television but it seems to me Studio 10 is lacking the unity that made it special. This contrasts with the current #metoo movement and the things women are achieving together. On the back of a network very nearly going under, these are risky take-outs when television is already struggling to retain audiences.

I hope the way forward demonstrates direction, confidence and fun.

And I hope you enjoy some well-deserved sleep-ins, more time with the grandkids, and a few more causes to grace with your vast media experience.

I’d like to buy a pain erazor please.

15 Comments:

  1. Maev....Sydney

    Thank you David Knox…love your work…..Your writing is what brings me here a few times a day, as much as the TV info…I glean much joy from the written word…especially when well done…
    And bless Ita….she has always done it her way….more power to her….I have always admired this lady …a wonderful Australian…..She is what dignity looks like.

  2. What a great tribute you’ve done! Especially considering the 5 mins send off the show gave her. I’m really surprised Denise is acting this way, she was on radio this morning and Grant Denyer asked if she’d miss Ita and she said “No” but that she had a big bag of Brussel sprouts that she didn’t know what to do with now.

  3. daveinprogress

    In addition to your tireless and impassioned work on this site, David, I always enjoy and respect when you venture forth with opinion. I intentionally didn’t use editorialize as I don’t want that word to have more cache, but it is refreshing to read your take on this and other issues that pervade the small screen. I am an admirer of both Ita Buttrose and Denise Drysdale, having grown up with Ding Dong and been aware of the influence and pioneer status of the great Ita. I also never watch Studio 10, so can’t speak to the dynamic on the program, but lament the departure of a true pioneer in journalism and publishing. Hopefully this is not the last we will hear or see of Ita.

  4. carolemorrissey

    They did seem friendly on yesterday’s show. They were discussing how little time Kate spent in hospital after giving birth & both Ita & Denise said when they had their babies back in the day they spent 2 weeks in hospital. Wow, times have changed since then.

  5. Good on Ita for not wanting to be self indulgent and insisting on a low key farewell. She was around long before social media and established her credentials decades ago. She doesn’t need to wheel out her family and overshare her life with the public to make herself relevant. You definitely wouldn’t catch Ita discussing her bowel movements on national television.

  6. thedirtydigger

    Farewell the Grand Dame of Australian media, a true one and only. Survivor, trail blazer, opinionated and sassy.
    Nice article David – yes I’ll have a Nutrabullet too !

  7. Denise looks like me when I’m at one of my husbands work parties and they’re all talking about work. I’ll just sit here and smile randomly and twiddle my thumbs a few times..

  8. I was able to watch some of yesterday’s show and it was a shame it ended like this for Ita, but I’ve no doubt she wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.. no long drawn out segments and recapping and endless show reels with more emphasis on what really mattered yesterday and that was ANZAC Day and paying respects. In saying that nobody at this stage really knows what is happening behind the cameras but it’s pretty obvious things are not as good as publicity would try to perceive.. why Denise even agreed to be there to do Ita’s last show is beyond me considering they barely muttered a word to each other. But to be fair about the flower situation, it wasn’t the same bunch from the day before – Ita herself said that she offered to bring those back when they were incorrectly given to her by mail staff or similar in true style for Channel Ten Sarah said.

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