Rude lesson for TEN is a reminder to all

TEN got a rude lesson this week in what should have been a moment for celebration, when a Jane Kennedy-tweet took aim at the lack of women in its 8 Pilot Week titles.

Amongst names like Rove McManus, Kyle Sandilands, Troy Kinne, Dave O’Nell, Rhys Darby and even Sam Dastyari, there was barely a female to be found (just one, Anna Heinrich, was mentioned but there are others in the mix).

“Oh, look!! How very exciting for all these men!!! And look! … There’s a lady in this picture with the remote control so she can watch all the clever, funny men who have the opportunity to pilot their own shows,” Kennedy tweeted.

Kennedy, whose Working Dog production company produces one of TEN’s biggest shows in Have You Been Paying Attention?, was soon joined by Meshel Laurie and Magda Szubanski -both having featured on TEN shows in the last 12 months. It was hardly ideal.

TEN chief content officer Beverley McGarvey, Australia’s only female commercial programmer, told the Herald Sun she was disappointed with the response.

“The reaction’s probably not surprising but we are a bit disappointed,” she said.

“What we were looking for in the process was ideas that we wouldn’t otherwise commission. We were trying to be bold in our commissioning.”

Kennedy has since clarified she has no beef with the men cast, but with the pictorial used by the Herald Sun of 8 blokes and a female holding a TV remote.

That said, the social media reaction is a good reminder that casting diversely continues to be a hot topic.

As we head towards Upfronts season in a few months, networks are on notice that the buzz of a new slate can be hijacked by politics if it doesn’t strike the right balance. Those networks also need to remember they have all signed an industry charter seeking to effect change both behind and in front of the camera.

Yet while Kennedy’s complaint is a legitimate one, should it overshadow the bigger picture?

TEN’s Pilot Week is a bold move in a risk-averse industry. Not all the shows sound like winners but the fact a commercial network is having a go (ABC is the only other network to attempt such) is a positive. Involving the audience, supposedly, in the commissioning stage is to be encouraged.

TEN is also looking over three female-driven narrative comedies with “high-profile women” for future consideration.

“If they do make it to pilot it will be next year’s Pilot Week because the lead-time on narrative comedy is about 18 months.”

Bonus, seems we’re getting a Pilot Week in 2019 too. A chance to cast wider ….and choose better print imagery.

TEN has been approached for comment.

Via: Fairfax


  1. There is a former actress from Offspring who I thought was excellent on Rove’s new movie show (which I believe was renewed?) She’d be fantastic elsewhere too.

  2. melaniekelly

    Any criticism of Drunk History being male dominated doesn’t quite make sense, because the talent are rotated every single episode.

  3. A great initiative by Ch10!! It shows guts to do new things especially on TV, in an area of reboots and spin offs and endless series of reality TV its a refreshing idea. The ABC did do the same thing and I enjoyed all of those pilots too. I hope the other networks take notice that people are over so called reality TV taking up to much air time.

  4. I think pilot week is a great idea. Not going to knock ten for male heavy shows. Their major aussie drama recently have been female focused. Sisters, The Wrong Girl and Offspring..give ten a break!

  5. Bruce Banner

    Would be interesting to know what projects females have indeed pitched to see if they held any merit or widespread interest to commercial television. All I’ve heard about is what Em Rousicano says she pitched (her sitting around in a ball gown with a drag queen serving her cocktails while her guests sing their favourite songs). That may say it all really.

  6. The idea that Sam Dastiyari is somehow more deserving of a primetime spot in pilot week, than a female personality is perplexing. How people can ignore it and defend status quo is mind boggling too. Do they really think there are no women out there with pitches or pilots or presenting skills? Or just none capable of leading? Laughable

    • Harshreality

      Personally I cannot stand Sam Dastyari but just like Kyle Sandilands both are very polarizing public figures. So seeing Sam on TV comes as no shock as both have their fans and their haters.

      The major issue Channel 10 will have is controlling the PR aspect when it comes to Dastyari as Sam does have a history of being dishonest, insensitive and exercising poor judgement.

  7. I fully get both sides. And there is right and wrong, for example Game shows, do you get someone with experience (all men) or do you get behind a newbie? What do you risk? I think someone like Susie Youssef would bring a good energy to something like Million dollar drop if TEN were to invest. Build up a new generation of young hosts.
    As for pilot week, its nice Ten are trying something different to Panel show / Female ROM com drama

  8. Must we have this equality conversation for everything these days? Did Jane or any other female submit ideas or was this just an exercise in professional victimhood or just fishing for social media likes? Very disingenuous

    • As you know visibility is incredibly important and networks should not sign charters they do not actively uphold. I think you will find these women were not asking for 50 / 50 equality, but to at least be at the table. It was a fair criticism. But in my view it shouldn’t overshadow what the network is doing. Both things are important.

  9. Glad Kennedy verified what she meant, all good.

    Although it would be nice to have a female-led drama that isn’t relationship based from Ten. They’ve done it over and over again for the past 5-10 years ever since Offspring started.

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