How Carols will adjust for no live audience

"We won't just be talking to an empty lawn," says Carols by Candlelight's Livinia Nixon.

She’s been part of the Nine family since 1997 but on Thursday Livinia Nixon finally gets a chance to co-host the iconic Carols by Candlelight.

Most years she attends in the audience with her husband and two young sons, but her boys couldn’t be happier to see her take to the stage this year at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.

This year’s Vision Australia event will be a little different, with organisers deciding against having public in attendance. But there is a special plan to still include singing from the Bowl’s seats.

“There won’t be empty rows. They’ll configure the choir so that everybody’s socially distant,” she tells TV Tonight.

“We won’t just be talking to an empty lawn. There will be people there and there will be action happening, but it will be in the confines of Carols by Candlelight cast.”

It means there can still be a sea of candles, albeit smaller in size and safely distanced.

Performing this year are include Mark Seymour, Chris Sebastian, Ella Hooper, Dami Im, Casey Donovan, Bonnie Anderson, Jimmy Rees, Isaiah Firebrace, Christie Whelan-Browne, Rob Mills, Bobby Fox, Silvia Colloca, Michael Leonardi, Simon Gleeson, CDB, Hamilton cast and more.

But it wouldn’t be Carols without the “Carols family” of Denis Walter, Sylvie Palladino, Marina Prior, David Hobson, Anthony Callea & Tim Campbell. And a bloke named Santa.

“I am really looking forward to seeing Sylvie Paladino & Marina Prior”

“I am really looking forward to seeing Sylvie Paladino & Marina Prior. I just think they are phenomenal. They are so intrinsically tied with Carols by Candlelight. You can’t think of that without thinking of them. They have such pure voices. It is such an honour to be so close and to watch those ladies sing.”

John Foreman returns to conduct, with choirmaster Doug Heywood.

But plans were rehatched on the weekend when David Campbell was forced to withdraw as co-host following border closures. Eddie McGuire steps in, coincidentally returning the event to a Victorian duo for the first time since 1999 (Glenn Ridge, Jennifer Keyte). At the time of this interview, no changes were afoot, but there was still a hint of unpredictability after 2020’s difficult year.

“There’s always that issue hanging over our heads of ‘Will borders shut? Will I have free movement?’ People want to be home with their families on Christmas Day, of course.”

“It’s really important the night is a chance for people to reset”

She adds, “Being a Melburnian, we have been at the forefront of lockdowns, and I think as much as you want to gently touch on that, it’s really important the night is a chance for people to reset, put that aside and just forget for one moment in time and bring in some Christmas happiness.”

Nixon, who continues with Nine News Melbourne and Getaway nationally, will prepare for the big night with a rehearsal on Wednesday, production meeting Thursday, promos and news crosses. This year’s broadcast is again produced by Melinda Zahra.

Despite a busy schedule, Nixon’s week will not quite be done by the time Santa & cast close the show with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

“We’ve got 27 people in total for lunch at our house on Christmas Day. It’s a very busy 24 hours!”

Carols by Candlelight airs 8pm Thursday on Nine.

6 Responses

  1. Both the Sydney and Melbourne Carols will be very different this year. I personally am not a fan of Eddie McGuire and Chris Sebastian. It would have been great if Ed Phillips could have hosted as he and Livina were awesome presenting Temptation / Sale of the Century together.

  2. It’s a real treat to be able to see some of the past favourites like Mark Seymour, CDB and Ella Hooper come back for these special occasions. Though Ella has appeared on New Years and occasionally on other shows.

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