TVT Vault: David Leckie’s brilliant, outrageous, way with words.

Jaws were on the floor when David Leckie once took to the podium at a Sunrise event.

There have been some fantastic tributes for legendary executive David Leckie this week, many recalling his nose for TV scheduling and the robust way in which he ran Seven network in particular.

Leckie surely had a way with words, that you just don’t find anymore.

Amongst some of the pearlers….

“The other mob, Channel TEN’s got one show, a cooking show. Channel Nine’s got the yo-yo show.” Presumably it was a reference to Nine’s schedule at the time, 2011.

In 2010 he said,“Because of everything that’s happening in the media recently, people aren’t remembering Seven is No. 1.

“I’m sick of all this crap. It’s very important for us to say we are No. 1.”

In 2010 he also was pumped for a new NRL show John Singleton was planning with Matthew Johns.

“We’re going to promote the shit out of this f***ing show. We’ve gotta let people know how good it’s going to be,” he said.

“I want a couple of million a night. It’s the truth. That’s what I’m hoping for. I’ve known Matthew on and off for over 10 years and I’ve known Singleton since I was born. I personally think there’s a big hole for a show like this and we’re putting it in a great timeslot.

“We’re having an argument about the name. Singo rang me 10 minutes ago about the name. I told him to f*** off – it’s my network.”

At the time he also conceded, Cougar Town, was a “shit show but we promote it and we get nearly 1.4 million watching it.”

Earlier in 2008 he said, “Look at Nine. Apart from Underbelly, every single show it has put on has failed.

“Channel Ten as usual snuck under the radar. It’s got two programs holding it up. The rest is crap.”

On the few occasions we met, I just shook his hand and slinked away. I’m not sure he quite gleaned how a TV blogger fitted into the scheme of things back then. And c’mon,he could be pretty scary in person…

My favourite memory was a Sunrise even celebrating 5 years of ratings in 2009 at Star City’s skyhigh Astral Bar. Nobody could quite believe the colourful, sometimes rambling, speech he gave. Leckie opened by talking about a bunch of staff he sacked after he first arrived in the job. Thank goodness I was recording…

“The second day I arrived at Channel Seven, I went out to wonderful Epping. Sacked the General Manager and went into our Newsroom.”

He then spoke about sacking the Director of News.

“It was a horrible, horrible hole down there…. but you know what? There was something going on. There was something really going on.

“That was six years ago. Six years ago. You could just see it. You could just see some sort of spark going on.”

That spark, said Leckie, was Sunrise. But he said he and Peter Meakin had “nothing to do with” it’s success leading a turnaround for a network in the doldrums.

“The only thing we did was, we went to the board, or I actually did…with Peter’s endorsement…to get more money. I thought ‘I’m going to have a crack at this.’ And I must say Kerry Stokes and Ryan Stokes were way, way behind this. They were so into it. It was fantastic. We could have closed the doors, we could have walked out, it was that bad. But for one thing: it was called Sunrise.

“It was dramatically growing…I can’t read this (speech) by the way…” he mumbled.

Leckie forged on acknowledging the work of the Sunrise and Weekend Sunrise teams.

“When I was at Nine, Sunday was one of the most important programmes… it was really, really important to us. All of a sudden, overnight we’ve smashed it. It’s amazing what we’ve done. And don’t worry ‘Nat’… she’s going to give me a hard time. I watch you at 5:30 most nights… most mornings… I do. 5:30am I’m almost there.”

Amid some laughs around the room, Leckie continued to acknowledge the achievements of the three shows.

Sunrise is number one, full stop. Full stop. Weekend Sunrise has smashed their opposition. Smashed their opposition. I mean you can’t believe how important Sunday was to Channel Nine. It was hugely important. We’ve smashed it. God….

“And The Morning Show -well it’s just a joke. We started from nowhere and just killed them. We’ve killed them. It’s really exciting you know. It’s really very, very important and I’m glad you’re all here. It’s just extraordinary what we’ve done. But not me. The people here,” he said.

“It’s all I’ve got to say I guess. Everyone deserves their success. Because I think the success has been incredible. I’ve never seen a turn around like this in my life. Don’t think I ever will again. But well done.”

Originally published June 18 2009.

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