EXCLUSIVE: After winning 2019, Nine is going into 2020 with big audiences from the Australian Open, all of whom are seeing promos for upcoming shows.
Nine Programming Director Hamish Turner oversees a slate dominated by hit 7:30 shows, including the biggest of them all, Married at First Sight.
“It was the biggest show of the year, winning all demos and BVOD. I think it cracked a billion minutes consumed or something ridiculous,” he tells TV Tonight.
“The participants again this year are a really interesting mix of individuals looking for love. Everything we’ve come to expect of the show we will again deliver in 2020.”
Season 7 begins on Monday as 20 singles are again matched by experts John Aiken, Mel Schilling and Dr Trisha Stratford. This season includes its first female same-sex couple.
“We haven’t had a lesbian couple before, so I think that’s interesting. The audience seems to have reacted very well to Elizabeth returning. She didn’t have a great first experience but she’s back with a vigour,” he continues.
“Love was found so we hope again that’s the story that comes out of this year.”
“The big success story was Cam & Jules last year and we obviously saw them get married on air, and Martha & Michael are still going strong. Love was found so we hope again that’s the story that comes out of this year.”
The show draws media coverage like no other, sometimes for sordid storylines which have attracted criticism. There were also reports Nine CEO Hugh Marks instructed execs to pull back on some of the extreme content.
“It’s a delicate balance,” Turner explains. “I think sometimes with love comes the drama. And I think that’s kind of a reflection of everyday life. If you put it put under the pressure cooker of a TV show that seems to only compound it.
“There will be drama, there is no doubt and we’re not afraid of that.”
“There will be drama, there is no doubt and we’re not afraid of that. But the beginning of the show is definitely people looking for love and that should absolutely be the driving force behind it.
“With the majority of the weddings it starts with hope and the aspirational journey. As difficult as people may be, I think the majority of people enter it to find love.”
The series will screen commitment ceremonies on Sundays, dinner parties on Wednesdays and conclude by Easter. Previously-axed Talking Married becomes a 9Now exclusive with daily 10 minute webisodes.
“Dr. Hugh is back to his bad boy ways”
Also featuring in Q1 is the 4th season of Doctor Doctor starring Rodger Corser. It returns next Wednesday at 9pm.
“It’s a year later in the narrative of the show, Hugh has a child and he’s had a very good year in terms of behaviour.
“But then Kate Jenkinson rocks up and she’s also on a kind of probation entering the hospital. The two forces meet and things start to dissolve for both parties. Dr. Hugh is back to his bad boy ways.
“Kate Jenkinson is one of my favourite actors from Wentworth. And Dustin Clare who I always remember from Spartacus. It’s a very, very strong cast, joining the original cast.”
2018 factual show Paramedics is back soon with brand new episodes.
“It’s a fantastic factual series. The heart of it comes from the Paramedics and their relationships. It’ll be off the back of MAFS so we’re hoping the big audience will push through and deliver some strong numbers for that show.”
Observational series Taronga: Who’s Who in the Zoo? comes to Saturday nights from February 8.
“It has amazing access, with Naomi Watts as the voice which was a great get for McAvoy Media. She was a Taronga Zoo ambassador and I think it’s the first time she’s done anything like this.”
Also screening in Q1 is US drama New Amsterdam from next week and Manifest, expected in mid-March.
“The design and creativity goes up another notch.”
Q2 marks the return of the #1 new show of 2019, Lego Masters with Hamish Blake, which has just completed filming.
“The pleasing thing is it was so very different in the landscape from traditional Reality shows, with Hamish’s performance and the emergence of the Brickman,” he continues.
“Again we’ve found an amazing group of individuals and, I said this last year, people who probably wouldn’t normally put themselves up for that style of show. The design and creativity goes up another notch.”
Travel Guides season 4 is also coming post-Easter with one new couple to replace married couple Deepesh & Sage, along with new local drama Informer 3838 which stars Ella Scott Lynch as “Lawyer X” Nicola Gobbo.
“She’s fantastic in that role. You kind of understand her moral dilemma and have empathy towards her.
“It ties up a lot of stories from the Underbelly franchise, especially from the first season which we saw.
“It’s a great dramatic interpretation of that story.”
“It’s a great dramatic interpretation of that story.”
Being a true crime drama will it air without any legal hitches? This is from the Underbelly world, after all…
“I hope so. All indications are it will, but we were burnt in 2008 so you have to approach with some degree of trepidation!”
Pre-Olympics Nine will also screen State of Origin plus The Voice with hosts Darren McMullen & Renee Bargh. Filming begins at its new Moorebank home next month.
“It’s the first time we’ve ever had all returning coaches. Guy Sebastian was so well received last year. He really loves the show and the process.
“We have an All-Stars component again back for that show, it worked really well last season.”
Watch out too for a Grammys salute to Prince, filmed this week in LA, with Beck, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Chris Martin, Juanes and more.
“My kids went to a Ninja gym the other day, running up their version of a warped wall”
Q3 sees Australian Ninja Warrior, filmed at a new Melbourne location, now with a jackpot $400,000 prize, should somebody conquer Mt. Midoriyama. Don’t underestimate the power of broadly appealing shows to generate a real-world effect.
“My kids went to a Ninja gym the other day, running up their version of a warped wall. The place was packed. It’s interesting (to see) the impact of those kind of shows,” Turner reveals.
Doco series Australian Crime Story is also back in Q3 with 10 new episodes plus observational series Emergency made by WTFN in Melbourne.
Not returning in 2020 are This Time Next Year nor Murder, Lies and Alibis (producer Mark Llewellyn has departed Nine) while Bad Mothers is axed. Nine talent Hamish & Andy are also in ongoing discussions for next projects.
There is no decision yet on two ITV Studios Australia titles Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation and Seachange.
“We’re still working through the finances on that one,” he says of Seachange.
And Family Food Fight?
“It’s fair to say it’s not coming back,” Turner confirms.
Nine will offer alternative viewing during the Olympics but is not expected to include big reality franchises.
After the Olympics Nine brings back The Block, due to start filming in Brighton soon. Turner declines to confirm reports it centres around 5 derelict homes from the 1930s – 1960s which have been relocated, but the show will underpin Q3 into Q4 for the network.
“It feels like an SVOD show with the beats of linear TV”
Revived drama Halifax is back as Halifax: Retribution with original star Rebecca Gibney as Jane Halifax, lured back into a police task force headed up by Anthony LaPaglia, following shooting murders in Melbourne.
“It traverses that real SVOD / linear world, where you get that kind of gritty realism. It feels like an SVOD show with the beats of linear TV,” he continues.
“There’s a lot of people who loved Halifax back in the day, so we look forward to bringing it to that audience and growing it as well.”
New titles due later this year include The Parent Jury but Turner promises it won’t match MAFS for extreme content.
“Not with kids, absolutely not. The motivation (of the parents) is for the love of their kids, and they are wanting to hopefully benefit their parenting. So that’s the core of the show.
“But the polarising opinions come from the characters within it and their parenting styles are very different.”
Also new is a studio variety show, Step Back in Time, which is still in development.
Q4 includes the T20 World Cup cricket across October & November, plus the Women’s World Cup.
Love Island is expected in Q4, but there is one qualification…
“We are still working through season three. The intention is we will definitely be going there, but we just have to work out a few back-end things first, which relates to the location,” Turner reveals.
With NRL screening frequently on Thursdays, on the primary channel in two states, Nine plans to draw upon factual and observational titles, such as RBT, in other cities. It will also expand on Footy Classified.
“We are going to be doing two versions this year,” he confirms.
“I can’t give you any more details but we’re expanding the Footy Classified franchise. We won’t be doing a Footy Show on a Thursday.”
“We just need to work out the best slot”
I ask about recent summer addition of UK game show Tipping Point.
“I definitely think there is a world for Tipping Point moving forward with us, we just need to work out the best slot for us. Is that against The Chase UK or could it sit somewhere else?” he asks.
There are no plans for a local version as yet with Hot Seat back at 5pm.
“Not at this stage. We need to embed the UK tape, give it a dedicated slot and see how it goes over a period of time. I think you’d want to give it 3 months to see how the audience reacts.
“Eddie is still there this year. I think the numbers were pretty pleasing towards the back end of last year. So we are going around again with Hot Seat and no changes there.”
Turner is also pleased with how the new-look Today show team has been received.
“They’re doing a fantastic job. Im enjoying the chemistry and actually, the whole team is doing a great job. There are some great new finds.
“Hand on heart, I’m really happy with where we’re at at the moment. I’m not too fussed about analysing the numbers day to day, it will fluctuate, until you find a loyal audience and stickiness to embed a strong show and strong chemistry.”
“You’re not in this week to week competitive slinging match”
Seven may be winning in News but Nine does have an enviable position in current affairs, with a dedicated flagship show in 60 Minutes.
“It will be really interesting to see this year, being the only show there from a commercial perspective.
“It actually frees you up to do more. Maybe it’s a perception thing, but you’re not in this week to week competitive slinging match,” Turner explains.
“I think we had a really good year last year and there are some fantastic stories lined up for this year.”
Elsewhere drama fans will also get Chicago Med Seasons 4 and 5 this year.
“There are also some things we will be announcing shortly, we’re in the final stages of developing.”
Tomorrow: Angus Ross, Seven Network.