EXCLUSIVE: 10 has a spring in step and has changed the game in 2020 by launching I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here early and kicking off Q1 with Dancing with the Stars & Australian Survivor.
A year ago the network’s first quarter struggled against the Married at First Sight / My Kitchen Rules battle, with Changing Rooms yanked off air. Now those expectations have changed with I’m a Celebrity having performed as the promo platform the network needed.
“Don’t think we weren’t nervous about it”
“Don’t think we weren’t nervous about it, but we really believed it would work because we’ve gone from January 13 last year (to January 5) and we just keep moving back. I keep making the joke that next time it will be on Boxing Day,” laughs 10 Head of Programming Daniel Monaghan.
“But we’re proving people want something to watch. They don’t want to just have to flick around Netflix. They want something light and entertaining, like I’m A Celebrity.
“There’s nearly 900,000 people watching the series at the moment, which is up about 10 or 13%. That’s a lot of people to be getting in front of, and they are heavily under 50 which is allegedly appealing to advertisers and our target audience.”
I’m a Celebrity‘s super-early launch is part of a wider push within 10 for 50 weeks of programming.
“Seven and Nine are effectively not switching off, with the Cricket and Tennis. So we don’t want to switch off either. We want a piece of that pie.
“This is where mass reach is, come and get it.”
“I think when we look back to Week 2, the commercial television audience was increasing year on year, and that’s our goal as one player in the industry, to increase the commercial TV audience all through those weeks. We should all be doing that, and I think we all are.
“As an industry we need to get on board and show advertisers this is where mass reach is, come and get it.”
Monaghan declines to tip a series winner but does hint to good news for fans of the show.
“I’d be stunned if it wasn’t back next year.”
10 swings from the jungle to the island when Australian Survivor: All Stars is unleashed next Monday, with returning players competing for a $500,000 prize. A further season is due early in Q3.
“We’re providing entertainment that is entirely different to MAFS and MKR. We have a loyal audience that we believe will come to it.
“The first, second and third episodes are three of the best we’ve ever made.
“They just come out to play hard. It’s a perfect competition. Brutal in some of the physical challenges. There are a lot of saints with smiles on their faces.”
“When you get the likes of Claudia on board you’ve already won”
It will be complemented by a second season of Dancing with the Stars, screening Live on Sunday nights from Melbourne with the likes of Claudia Karvan, Dami Im, Beau Ryan & Angie Kent.
“When you get the likes of Claudia on board you’ve already won, and then Ed Kavalee and Celia Pacquola… it’s people that you wouldn’t have thought would have done this show, who are willing to do it on 10, which is really refreshing,” he continues.
“We were so happy with last year and the way the show was pulled together. We want more numbers this year, but the show that Warner Bros. pulled together last year was beautiful.”
Monaghan is pragmatic about the show’s first elimination facing stiff competition from the live Fire Fight Australia benefit.
“It is what it is. The firefighting concert is very important. We support it wholeheartedly and would love to have been involved in some way, had we been able. I’m sure Nine feel the same.”
An extended 10 News First, which has seen a lift in network share in the 6pm slot, will continued to be ‘trialled.’
“Sadly it’s been a heavy news cycle over the summer with the bushfires, which has devastated the country. People are desperate to be informed on what’s happening so we’re glad we can provide a service at 6:00.
“Celebrity Name Game is living on BOLD at the moment. I think we’re very happy with the way News is performing. The amount of work from the news team for an extra half hour has been extraordinary.
“We don’t have any plans to go back into the studio for Celebrity Name Game.”
“Gogglebox has three new families this year”
Also in Q1 are Hughesy, We Have a Problem, Ambulance Australia now filmed in Queensland, and by the end of February the first of two Gogglebox seasons for 2020.
“Gogglebox has three new families this year, including two boys from the Gold Coast.”
Neighbours will mark its 35th anniversary on 10 Peach in March.
“It’s just started picking up year on year which is nice and the summer audience has returned. So we’re happy with how it’s going,” says Monaghan. “We’re working closely of course with our new friends at Channel 5. There are a number of big storylines coming up, with a couple of deaths as per the soap genre.”
Scenes specially filmed during the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras will also air in coming weeks.
“We’ve got the characters coming back that you will want”
Following Australian Survivor / DWTS 10 heads back to Fiji for more Bachelor in Paradise.
“We’ve got the characters coming back that you will want, we haven’t (announced) any of them, but I feel like they have been named by New Idea or papped by certain people. But it’s a good cast from Angie and Matt’s seasons and quite a handful of favourites from previous seasons.”
Monaghan hopes to begin Bachelor “before Easter, ideally,” but adds, “I’m not going to play it against MAFS. We’ll be clear of each other and there’s no point splitting the audience.”
Quarter 2, post-Easter, again features MasterChef Australia, now with all-new judges Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong & Andy Allen and 24 contestants who have previously been in the top 10. With no auditions, Gordon Ramsay kicks off Week 1 of cooking.
“Andy, Jock & Mel are really a breath of fresh air into the series and having all those ex-contestants genuinely back to win… you’d think it might be a bit of a celebrity version, but it is not. They are there to win. They want this crown, they fumble and stumble and they are hungry to win,” Monaghan insists.
“This is the shot in the arm the show needed”
“We’ve started filming it, and it’s very strong. The new judges are really settling in very well. Whatever happened with the old Masterchef, we’ll let bygones be bygones but this is the shot in the arm the show needed.”
Also expected in the second quarter is the replacement show for The Living Room. Details are still under wraps, including just who is producing.
“The team will be back this year, in some incarnation at Friday nights at 7:30 with Amanda, Chris, Barry & Miguel,” he assures.
“For a variety of reasons which I’m not going to go into, the decision was made that change was needed. But they will be back with lifestyle content, as they have delivered for the past 7 years.”
Peter Helliar and Lisa McCune comedy How to Stay Married is back in Q2.
“We really loved the first season. It’s a sort of gentle, family comedy which really appeals to that MasterChef audience, so we’d love to try and capitalise on that.”
New local drama The Secrets She Keeps is also expected in Q2. The six part series by Lingo Pictures stars Laura Carmichael and Jessica De Gouw as two women from vastly different backgrounds with explosive secrets that could destroy everything they hold dear.
“I’ve only seen the first few episodes so far, but it is a great thriller. And evidenced that it is very good by selling very well around the world at the moment, which is really exciting. It’s something different for us to go into that thriller genre, but it’s very commercial in the way that the story is told.
“To get Laura Carmichael from Downton Abbey was a real coup for us, and partly the reason why it is selling so well, particularly in the UK and the US.
“Then we’ll go into the second season of Five Bedrooms after that. I saw the other day that it had been picked up by Peacock. the NBC streaming service, which is great. So that’ll return at the end of MasterChef, towards The Bachelor. It has such a good cast and the writing is fantastic. I’m glad that people enjoyed it as much as we did.”
“Our intention with our dramas is always to try and get them away at 8:30”
I also ask about starting times for their local dramas.
“Our intention with our dramas is always to try and get them away at 8:30 -or the Australian 8:30 which is 8:40.
“We also have Drunk History coming up which (is partly scripted). That’s something we can play at 9:00 because it’s a different kind of show. It’s not a straight comedy or one hour drama. But for the scripted projects we’d like the audience to see them as early as possible.
“People are flicking when the big franchises finish and the dramas have become harder to get away. It’s a commitment for people to sit there and say ‘I’m going to definitely watch this drama for an hour.’ People are so flippant with their time and they like bitesize things, which is why you end up seeing the success of things like Gogglebox and Have You Been Paying Attention. Shows where you essentially you feel you don’t have to commit to the whole hour, but you end up being so entertained you do.”
‘”Anne Edmonds is doing the story of Dame Nelly Melba”
First names of Drunk History are now revealed.
“In the first episode, Anne Edmonds is doing the story of Dame Nelly Melba and we have Susie Youssef playing Dame Nelly Melba. Darren McMullen is in that one in an acting capacity, and Yvie Jones does a brief cameo. Then we’re doing the story of Burke & Wills. Harley Breen reads and we have Osher and James Mathison playing Burke & Wills.”
Sketch comedy Kinne Tonight is also back however the network is now undecided over more of Playing for Keeps.
“Obviously we were very disappointed with the numbers that it pulled last year. It was, we consider to be, a good melodrama with a very loyal fanbase,” Monaghan explains.
“It was the show on the back end of last year that I got asked about the most, which fascinated me. Perhaps it’s the circles that I run in.”
Ever-popular Have You Been Paying Attention? is back in May and runs through to the end of the year. Last year the show had its highest rating ever, and regularly causes headaches for rival networks.
In Q3 Monaghan says 10 will compete against Olympics with alternative programming, due to include a ‘regular’ Australian Survivor plus The Bachelor. The latter is yet to be cast.
“Trial by Kyle is awaiting a decision”
Bondi Rescue and Body Hack are both back this year but there are now question marks over three other shows, all of which were announced at Upfronts.
“Trial by Kyle is awaiting a decision,” Monaghan admits, “…it probably didn’t perform to the level we had hoped.” However he was “relatively comfortable” with One Born Every Minute.
“Taboo we haven’t made a decision on as yet.”
There are also no decisions on My Life is Murder, I Am Roxy or Mr. Black.
Show Me the Movie and Sunday Night Take Away are formally axed while there are no plans for The Secret Life of Four Year Olds, Shark Tank or Russell Coight’s All Aussie Adventures. I prod gently over a final word on Offspring?
“I’m not saying no to Offspring, because one day it might happen!” Monaghan teases.
Q4 will feature new hit The Masked Singer with its returning guessing panel & host Osher Gunsberg.
“I thought the cast was great and the guessing panel was obviously amazing. Next season we’ll step it up and I think it’ll look fantastic. We might give a few more difficult clues….” he laughs.
I ask if 10 would have first dibs on US plans for The Masked Dancer.
“I think we would like to take a look at it before anyone else, but that’s not entirely how it works,” Monaghan explains.
“I don’t know how long I could watch someone dance around in a Unicorn costume in silence.”
The Bachelorette and The Amazing Race Australia are back in Q4, with the latter enjoying longer pre-production time to expand on travel destinations.
“We went through Asia & Africa as a starting point but we’d desire fresh locations this year, with a bit more time up our sleeve.”
“It’s a jewel in the crown”
Amongst sporting highlights, Monaghan notes, “It was a huge undertaking for us to launch the Melbourne Cup last year, having it back on 10 after so many years. It performed well for us, we were thrilled with how the event came together. It’s a jewel in the crown during that period of the year for our schedule.”
Elsewhere, there is no decision on a second host for The Loop and no changes planned for Studio 10.
“No changes, we’re comfortable with the way it has performed over summer. It gets a boost over summer which we’ve seen in previous years. The look has changed this January, and it’s looking very fresh and we’ve added Narelda Jacobs to the panel.”
The Project plans to cement hosts on regular nights.
“With a core group like Carrie, Lisa, Pete, Waleed, and Tommy and previously Hamish on a Sunday night, I think the audience knows what they’re going to get,” he explains. “Our intention for the Monday to Friday is that every night in terms of day of week, you get the person that you’re expecting.
“We have such good group of core talent putting them on the same night every week will be key for the audience seeing who they want to see, with a great rotation of (guest) panelists.”
“We would certainly welcome him back.”
Will Hamish Macdonald be seen on The Project in 2020?
“I hope so. He has a great gig, we’re happy for him to do Q&A and we love him on The Project so we would certainly welcome him back.”
Amongst international titles, The Graham Norton Show will premiere on Fridays (Sundays are repeats), with NCIS and SVU franchises back in play.
Newcomers include FBI Most Wanted.
“It stars Julian McMahon so it obviously has great appeal for Australian audiences. When the original FBI launched, it launched very well for us.”
Tomorrow: Hamish Turner, Nine Network.