When Sunday Night first went to air on Seven in February 2009 it was with a small studio audience who also got to chat with reporters about their stories afterwards on multichannel 7HD.
“It’s live from our Sunday Night studio as a continuing, unscripted event,” original co-producer Adam Boland told TV Tonight at the time. “Essentially what will happen is the hosts will stay on set, along with any reporters from that particular show as well as any key talent.
“So for example on the first episode we’re doing our investigation into the death of Britt Lapthorne. Her parents will be on set with Ross Coulthart, the investigator, and taking questions from our studio audience as well as anyone from home via a phone number and website.”
The All In Call, as it was known, barely lasted a few weeks amid rumours then-CEO David Leckie was giving the flagship show 10 weeks to prove itself.
But Sunday Night, co-created by Mark Llewellyn, would go on to much bigger success, challenging 60 Minutes both in ratings and stories.
Initially hosted by Chris Bath & Mike Munro, then subsequently by Melissa Doyle, it ran for 11 years.
At its best it was doing true crime investigations, bringing international stories from lost tribes to celebrity interviews and surrounding its team with names like Molly Meldrum, Mike Willesee, Derryn Hinch and even Kerri-Anne Kennerley.
At its worst there were puff pieces for Seven’s own Pete Evans, too many weeks off air in the Seven schedule (including up to 3 months during ratings), breaches of the Code with ACMA and an unwelcome role in the friendship fallout of Molly & Elton.
But current affairs is hard yakka and 11 years is not to be dismissed lightly. Special acknowledgement to the crews who have trekked the globe in warzones and inhospitable terrain to capture stories for our Sunday edification.
Tonight Melissa Doyle is joined by Mike Munro, Matt Doran, Denham Hitchcock, Steve Pennells, Alex Cullen, Angela Cox, Rahni Sadler, Ross Coulthart and PJ Madam who reflect on their favourite stories. Highlights will also screen over summer.
Here are some of the moments that capture the show’s history….
8pm Sunday on Seven.