EXCLUSIVE: 10 kicked off 2021 early with I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here filmed in Australia and drawing its highest commercial share ever. Head of Programming Daniel Monaghan is keen to acknowledge its success as a taste of what’s to come.
“We were obviously very happy with the performance for I’m a Celebrity. It gives us such a great springboard into the year -we are the home of summer entertainment. IAC did such a phenomenal job this year with an incredible cast, again, under difficult circumstances with the pre-record and the location being in Australia rather than in South Africa,” he explains.
“To come out with our highest commercial shares ever for the series, is something that we are so happy to crow about, and such a strong finale. I applaud ITV and our internal executive production team pulling that together and the casting team.”
Will the show remain in Australia or return to Africa?
“That site in northern New South Wales is used by other countries, so it is more of a logistical question, versus what would we want to do? We want to make the best show possible, at the time we want. The Live element does give us an added bonus. We will go where we think we can get the best show, at the best time. As the world grapples with vaccinations and COVID, we will continue to find the best spot for it.
“But I won’t say that we won’t be in Australia next year.”
Having safely filmed locally, The Amazing Race Australia is now screening three nights a week.
“Eureka have done an exceptional job under extraordinary circumstances, as everyone has encountered. We are thrilled with the series with Beau, happy that we were able to get it away and showcase the country. It’s been such a difficult six months of the year for production. Eureka found the perfect window and made the perfect COVID safe series.”
On Monday Hughesy We Have a Problem returns, this year with regulars Becky Lucas and Nazeem Hussain. Episode one even features problem-solving for Tiger King‘s Carole Baskin plus actor Gary Busey.
“You’ll find the show this year being filmed a lot closer to telecast”
“I think we you’ll find the show this year being filmed a lot closer to telecast, so it will be slightly more current for all the problems,” he continues.
“We really wanted to evolve it this year to be current, given the news of the world. You don’t want things to feel out of date, even if they’re filmed six weeks in advance. So these ones will feel very, very fresh.”
New game show The Cube sees the return of Andy Lee, and is based on a rebooted UK format. It will screen on Wednesdays from February 24.
“We’re very excited to have Andy Lee back on the network after as a host after so many years elsewhere.
“$250,000 on offer every single episode”
“The skills and the games of appear to be very simple. But they are put under the pressure of $250,000 on offer every single episode -twice actually, if there’s more than two sets of contestants,” says Monaghan.
“It had a very successful reboot and when ITV brought it to us, Andy was so excited to host it as a superfan of the show. How could we say no?”
New Bondi Rescue and Territory Cops screen on Thursdays along with national favourite, Gogglebox. The Living Room is in repeats on Fridays with new episodes expected after Easter.
MasterChef Australia returns for its 13th season in Q2 with celebrated new judges Melissa Leong, Jock Zonfrillo and Andy Allen. Masterclasses are also coming on Thursday nights.
“After the success of MasterChef last year with Back to Win, we were really buoyed by how well people responded to our three wonderful new judges. They are well into production and knocking people out.
“We put our first promo to air the other night, with mostly retro-vision.”
Q2 also signals the return of another favourite and ratings roadblock, Have You Been Paying Attention? Monaghan isn’t sure if the show can return with a full studio but cautiously speaks on behalf of producers, Working Dog (conceding he may cop a serve for doing so….).
“What they achieved with five people on Zoom and Tom in the studio was pretty incredible”
“They want to be back in studio, that’s where they feel most comfortable. If they can, they will. But they won’t do it if it’s putting people at risk. They also thrive off a studio audience, so they will want one, as we do, just for the energy of the comedians in the room. That being said, what they achieved with five people on Zoom and Tom in the studio was pretty incredible when you look at what some of the Americans and the Brits did with their nightly shows.”
How to Stay Married will screen Tuesdays in Q2 with Peter Helliar and Lisa McCune while a new season of Five Bedrooms is set for Wednesdays and picks up from the house sale ending S1.
“They do find a new house – spoiler alert- but the finding of the house is less of a storyline given how much they covered it in Series One. series. It’s more about the progression of the individual relationships moving forward, rather than retreading the same old ground,” he observes.
“I actually think the second series is a step up”
“I actually think the second series is a step up. Having seen the whole thing, it’s such a nice, warm and very funny show. I can’t wait for people to see it.”
Australian / British co-production With Intent starring Brett Tucker, Charlie Brookes and Phoebe Roberts is about to finish filming after border delays and is due later this year.
Q3 sees the return of The Masked Singer which heads back to Sydney for production.
“Jackie’s here, Hughesy’s here now because of his radio. Dannii’s family is in Melbourne, but she is obviously LA based and Urzila is in New Zealand.”
Does that meant Urzila is back on the panel and not Lindsay Lohan? Monaghan is more guarded on those specifics…
“We loved having Lindsay…. we loved having Urzila”
“We loved having Lindsay. We couldn’t have her for Series 2 so we loved having Urzila. So it’s a wealth of people!”
Matchbox Pictures and Eureka Productions are behind new reality contest Making It, based on a format from Amy Poehler & Nick Offerman. But whatever you do, don’t call it crafting….
“I don’t like the word, ‘craft.’ It’s a show about making. It’s art, it’s woodwork, it’s making things. There is definitely craft but it’s bigger than that,” Monaghan insists.
“Making It is going into production in March in Sydney. We have found our hosts, and our designers / judges are in the process of being locked.
“They are an exceptional bunch of makers”
“I have seen the cast…. it’ll be a really vibrant and big set with a diverse cast of makers, both in who they are and also what they create.
“You may be good with woodwork, crafts, arts, you may be a good felter – I only say that because I think it’s the funniest one. I don’t know that we have a felter!”
This will be a short run series, screening “a couple of nights per week.”
The Bachelor this year promises its “most eligible bachelor” ever -a term that is deliberately ambiguous.
“I think we’ll deliver on that. It’s open to interpretation, which is why it’s such a good phrase! Maybe you can be more desirable, for whatever reason….” he teases.
“We’re really happy with who has signed onto The Bachelor”
“We’re really happy with who has signed onto The Bachelor. Australia will be very happy with our gentleman.”
A name is not expected until filming begins, to keep the single ladies in the dark. But will Australia know this single bloke?
“Not yet. But you will, and I think he’s a fantastic get for the franchise.”
The Bachelorette returns but is yet to be cast, while Bachelor in Paradise is out this year.
Also new in 2021 is a local version of The Doghouse to be produced in-house. Based on the UK series it centres around match-making lost dogs with new owners.
“There were so many dogs adopted and bought during lockdown across the country that it feels like the right time for people to see this. It’s so sweet and gentle, very much a Gogglebox style show where dogs are matched with their new owners.”
Fans are hungry for more Australian Survivor which will screen in Q4. Monaghan is tight-lipped on a location, but an on-shore production seems a certainty.
“I think it’s reasonable to expect that it might be difficult this season to get to Fiji,” he hints.
“We have a location”
“We are in pre-production at the moment and we have a location. You could guess where it would be, but we will announce that in due course. It will be a standard series in terms of the same stripped format. We have the theme picked. It was cast before it got shut down last time… whether or not that entire cast returns (is unconfirmed).”
Previously-announced Body Hack is out for 2021 but Todd Sampson will return with an alternative series.
“It’s not similar to Body Hack, but it’s Todd Sampson.”
Kinne Tonight and Drunk History Australia are out for 2021 but could return at another stage. Axed are Playing for Keeps, Trial by Kyle, Celebrity Name Game, One Born Every Minute Australia, Scope and from July, long running Totally Wild.
There will also be a major new show for Q4 to replace Junior MasterChef.
“Junior MasterChef was a one-off for the pandemic. I don’t think that will say we’ll never do Junior again, but it’s not slated for this year. We will have something else at the back end where Junior was sitting -TBC in terms of announcements.”
The First Inventors presented by Rob Collins will screen in conjunction with NITV, and Ambulance Australia is expected in Q4.
“We’re happy with the way Sarah & Tristan are settling in”
New-look Studio 10 also gets the network tick.
“We’re happy with the way Sarah & Tristan are settling in. There was a fair bit of change so we’re just happy to have them bed in and work together. I think we’re seeing improvements in terms of the numbers so I’m really happy with the chemistry and the show as a whole.”
Finally 10 is also sticking with its extended 10 News First followed by The Project -will the latter ever return to a studio audience?
“It’s gone on so long, that if they put the audience back in, they’d have to adjust having it back! I don’t know. I won’t say it won’t happen but they have done a superb job without an audience that you could argue the case either way!”