EXCLUSIVE: 2021 Programmer’s Wraps kick off today with Nine Program Director, Hamish Turner. Read what he has to say about Nine’s slate and when to expect 2021 shows.
Nine has an enviable slate of returning hit shows in 2021 including Married at First Sight, Lego Masters, Australian Ninja Warrior, The Block, and the demo-friendly Love Island to be joined by Celebrity Apprentice, Beauty & the Geek and Parent Jury.
The Australian Open gets underway next Monday, spilling into ratings survey. This has led to specials this week from Travel Guides and Who Wants to be a Millionaire? as well as Married at First Sight: Grand Reunion -but the 2021 MAFS series formally kicks off on February 22nd.
“She is very candid, talks in a very straight, matter-of-fact way”
Nine Program Director, Hamish Turner. “We’ve got a new MAFS expert in Alessandra Rampolla. She’s a certified clinical sexologist who brings a lot to the table. She is very candid, talks in a very straight, matter-of-fact way and really opens up the participants in terms of discussing intimacy, and ensuring that they’ve got that part of their relationship on track.
“Obviously John (Aiken) and Mel (Schilling) are back and then we have our new couples.”
Turner says Nine also looked to find couples who would “go the distance” this year, whilst conceding that viewers love the dinner party fireworks.
“Couples who have the discourse and dialogue to really share their emotions in a mature fashion is probably the best way to describe it,” he explains.
“It’s the two ends of the table that we always talk about”
“So it’s always the balance. It’s the two ends of the table that we always talk about. This year we’ve ensured that the sharing at the table has a strong voice. It’s a very strong season, I think the country will again embrace it.”
MAFS season was filmed during a period where borders were open but COVID restrictions did affect production.
“One thing you will see is smaller weddings”
“It was shot as a closed set. So yes, couples are able to touch each other. But one thing you will see is smaller weddings, reflecting the local government requirements. So that’ll probably be the most obvious difference this year,” says Turner.
“There was isolation, obviously, depending upon where you were coming from. The Bachelor had similar conditions. I think every production has gone through a similar situation. What would have been somewhat destructive to shows is if they weren’t able to kiss or be intimate. But once they’re in the production, once they are a couple then obviously that 1.5 role is is no longer required.”
Due to the Australian Open delay, some MAFS episodes will also be seen during the Easter break.
Six part current affairs series Under Investigation, presented by Liz Hayes, will also launch after the tennis and produced by the 60 Minutes team.
“It picks up where 60 Minutes did those MH370 investigations and a bushfire investigation. You get experts in the field, dissecting a case, as they investigate, reopen and analyse the facts,” he continues.
“Hopefully they come to some form of conclusion, or at least ruling out some of the things that perhaps have been brought about through town gossip or innuendo and hopefully get some of these cases back on track.”
Also in Q1 is new local drama Amazing Grace starring Kate Jenkinson (Wentworth) in the title role.
“Grace is a midwife who works in a birthing centre, which is not your traditional maternity ward… birthing centres are more casual,” says Turner. “She’s a fierce advocate for pregnant mothers. It’s very family friendly, there’s real twists and turns, and it’s something particularly females will really fall in love with. There are strong female characters, it’s about her private and personal life, and how they collide in many ways …secrets from the past are brought back and enrich her life and probably help her move forward.”
New 10 part observational series Space Invaders from producers WTFN, which helps viewers to declutter their life.
“A team of experts come in and help a couple or individual. It’s not Hoarders, it’s basically people who have an emotional tie to certain objects and over time it’s taken over their life. They go in, basically take everything from inside the house and bring it outside the house and go through the process of looking to either let go of it, keep it or pack it away. It’s a nice show that will site Friday or Saturday, on the back of ACA.”
Items which are discarded are then sold with monies going towards a room renovation.
“The first episode is gut-wrenching”
“The first episode is gut-wrenching, where the mother was an empty nester, holding on to all the kids’ stuff, and part of the process was helping her let go of that. It has some fantastic results and great makeovers.”
He adds, “Country House Hunters will also continue on Friday nights with Catriona Rowntree. It’s been doing some good numbers through summer, and we’ve got more episodes coming that venture outside Victoria.”
Nine has a number of titles from WTFN this year with 10 part series MegaZoo, filmed at Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Open Range Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary, on Thursdays in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth as NRL commences in Sydney & Brisbane.
In Q2 Lego Masters returns for season three with Hamish Blake and Ryan “Brickman” McNaught, all filmed in Melbourne.
“It’s a more diverse cast, we’ve got really strong female participants this year, and some you wouldn’t expect to see in a show like this. This show continues to grow and as we say, the participants are only limited by their imagination. Some of the creates this year are unbelievable, it’s great family viewing.
David Attenborough: Perfect Planet and Travel Guides series will playout, with a mix of international and Australian episodes.
Doctor Doctor will also return in Q2 with star Rodger Corser joined by new cast Zoë Ventoura, Lincoln Younes, Darren McMullen, John Waters and Chantelle Jamieson.
“It’s back for its 5th season, does really well, internationally and strong cross-platform numbers for us.”
More from WTFN are new seasons of Emergency and Paramedics, which will highlight frontline workers and the dedication to their craft.
“Beauty & the Geek… doesn’t take itself too seriously”
Beauty & the Geek debuts on Nine, now in a stripped format, hosted by Sophie Monk.
“The format will be evolved to bring Beauty & the Geek into today. But at its heart there’s a bit of comedy, there’s a bit of love, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, probably with multiple makeovers.”
Endemol Shine will shoot the series in March in Sydney.
Celebrity Apprentice returns, now with UK boss Lord Alan Sugar, and celebs including The Veronicas, Michelle Bridges, Anthony Callea, Ross Noble and Shaynna Blaze.
“Lord Sugar cuts up so well. He’s got these amazing one-liners”
“We’ve seen the first couple of episodes,” says Turner. “It’s actually very, very strong. Lord Sugar cuts up so well. He’s got these amazing one-liners. He’s a London northerner with the experience on the ground… a certified billionaire, but what’s really pleasing about this show is the talent attached. You see straight out of the blocks, their passion for those charities. With the first win, there’s tears, there’s elation and there’s real money on the table as well.”
With filming completed late last year, how did producers keep paparazzi away from public challenges?
“It comes down to the celebrities not not giving the game away. As you can appreciate, usually they’re the ones who are leaking to the media. But it was somewhat watertight. It wouldn’t happen on MAFS!” he laughs.
In Q3 Parent Jury‘s Jo Frost (The Supernanny) dares mums and dads who believe their parenting style is the best to put themselves to the test. Filming will get underway soon.
“I think one of the main features of this you’ll see is the diversity of cast, diversity of parenting styles and some characters that will really be pretty strict straight off the top.
“We haven’t seen anything really in the parenting space for a long time. The show’s produced by Eureka and I think it’ll have everybody talking.”
“This year if Mt. Midoriyama is conquered she gets nasty and bites back”
Australian Ninja Warrior returns to Sydney (location yet to be disclosed) with Ben Fordham & Rebecca Madden. With border restrictions it isn’t clear if ‘Freddie’ Flintoff will return.
“This year if Mt. Midoriyama is conquered she gets nasty and bites back,” he teases. “The obstacles will be tougher, longer, more arduous” with no State v State edition but a special episode at the end.
Across both Q3 and Q4 is of course The Block, with its 17th season to be filmed at several purchased properties in a Hampton cul-de-sac.
“It’s effectively ‘The Block Neighbours.'”
“It’s effectively ‘The Block Neighbours.’ It will add a new dynamic to the show. We’re working through casting at the moment and it doesn’t start filming for another month or two.”
“We’re just working through whether Sophie comes back or not”
Also returning is Love Island, likely to shoot on the Gold Coast.
“It won’t be overseas, that’s for sure,” he insists. “We’re just working through whether Sophie comes back or not. It really depends on Beauty & the Geek and whether she can do both. She’s still an option.”
Announced at 2021 Upfronts, but not yet on the Nine schedule are reno series Beach House Escape, and Celebrity IOU Australia.
Also returning are Australian Crime Stories and Bondi Vet (which previously shifted from 10) and a second season for Taronga: Who’s Who in the Zoo?
Nine has co-commissioned nature series David Attenborough’s Life in Colour
Turner also announces Million Dollar Mysteries from producers The Full Box (Australian Crime Stories) which will investigate cold cases offering a big reward plus an untitled factual series to be filmed in NSW prisons.
“Think of it ‘the real life Wentworth'”
“Think of it ‘the real life Wentworth‘ -there is a female prison in it- going behind the scenes of what actually happens in these prisons.”
In sport there’s more NRL, State of Origin, Golf, Netball, Footy Classified (Mondays and Wednesdays), Sunday Footy Show, NRL Sunday Footy Show, 100% Footy and select Rugby Union matches following a rights deal through Stan.
A Current Affair (including Saturdays) and the Today show and Today Extra continue across the year.
“Allie & Karl did a great job last year. The first year was really getting their chemistry right. I think they found a really good place and we’re looking forward to seeing that grow this year.”
Finally, Nine continues its UK game show Tipping Point in the afternoons.
“Tipping Point continues to do a good job in the arvo. It’s the one show I get asked about the most! My parents and their friends love Tipping Point -it’s appointment viewing for a weekday.”
Are primetime episodes any indication Nine is testing numbers for a local version? Turner is tight-lipped.
“Read into that what you like!” he teases.
Tomorrow: Seven’s Angus Ross.