Programmer’s Wrap 2023: Nine

A Shane Warne miniseries, reality contest The Summit, the return of RPA join Nine's heavy-hitters, MAFS, Lego Masters & The Block in 2023.


“We’re continuing to evolve the schedule. We do have a very strong framework with shows like Married at First Sight, Lego Masters, The Block, but want to continue to challenge ourselves an excite the audience with new ideas.”

With the Australian Open concluded, Nine’s 2023 TV year is off and running.

Programming Director Hamish Turner details some of the upcoming highlights, from MAFS to The Block, without quite revealing when shows will premiere…

Married at First Sight has already returned for its 10th season and is here to prove it is king of the reality genre, dominating audiences in its premiere. The show cleverly marries romance with soapie storylines for viewers to invest in.

“It doesn’t disappoint. We’ve got very strong characters, new storylines, it opens up stuff that we haven’t seen before,” Turner tells TV Tonight.

“There’s some great love stories, but there’s some car crashes. People sometimes invest for the love, sometimes people invest in the drama. But ultimately, it’s the combination of the two.

“The delicate balance of the show, is that some people find love, but just don’t have the ability to communicate, that gets them to a relationship. Many times there’s a lot of sexual chemistry, but that then doesn’t translate into a relationship. So it does reflect societal relationships, in a lot of ways and does it on a very broad public platform.

“People kind of always go, ‘How are you going to top the season prior?’ And as I always say: it’s the characters that deliver different storylines, different headlines, and different points of discussion.”

The series indeed generates plenty of conversation on social media and in the press, with a stream of clickbait stories, some of which take aim at the show, including from past couples and even a previous matchmaking expert.

MAFS will often cop some criticism but actually, I don’t think there’s any other show in the country, at least at that kind of level, that delivers strong opinion, but also opens up some really interesting discussion points around the challenges that everyday Australians tackle, in an open and candid way. So expect more of that this year.”

Returning this week is Space Invaders with Angie Kent joining declutter presenters Peter Walsh & Cherie Barber.

“What you’ll see this year is more scale in terms of the renos, a little bit more diversity in terms of storytelling. It’s become a really good Saturday night proposition for us.”

Next Monday Nine debuts new IVF series Big Miracles, narrated by Lisa McCune.

“It tracks parents who are struggling to conceive and their journey to ultimately having a child. It’s made by Ronde Media who do Bondi Rescue, amongst others,” he continues.

“It’s real, raw and emotional”

“Sometimes there’s amazing stories, but in life sometimes there isn’t -and we kind of track that. It’s real, raw and emotional and I think it makes you feel something. We’re very proud of it.”

The Hundred with Andy Lee is back for its fourth season next Tuesday with Sophie Monk set to feature in 5 episodes. This year will also include themed episodes.

Under Investigation returns to Wednesday nights, and Turner highlights one 1970s cold case which centres around a former TV chef.

“‘Willi’ Koeppen had a restaurant in the Dandenongs called The Cuckoo. His claim to fame was used he to cook pancakes for Hitler. He came to Australia and became one of Australia’s first TV chefs, and then one night he disappeared and has never been seen again, so it’s a fantastic tale of intrigue.”

“Think Cliffhanger where you’re absolutely pushed to the limit”

New in 2023 is The Summit, an original format produced by Endemol Shine Australia with Jai Courtney hosting in New Zealand.

“This is 12 punters, man versus mountain, being pushed to their limit, facing their fears. But underneath is a bubbling strategy in order to get to the top and win the million dollars.

“A lot of it was informed stylistically and visually by those Hollywood blockbusters -think Cliffhanger where you’re absolutely pushed to the limit. I think what will strike the audience is visually what they see on screen.

“What we’re seeing is some amazing cinematography. Just amazing shots. The ESA camera guys are at the top of their game and I think they were even just blown away by what they were able to capture…. they get avalanches! It’s full on.”

As to the show’s gameplay, Turner admits, “I’m not going to get give too much away because, we want it to be a surprise.”

Lego Masters has a Grand Masters seasons, although it isn’t clear if this includes returning contestants.

“That’s yet to be unveiled…it’s the best of the best so what you’ll see is just the level of Lego building is out of this world.”

Also new this year is Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars in which the famed chef is joined by Janine Allis.

“Ultimately, this is about food ideas and looking for sponsorship and investment from Gordon and Janine. It’s similar in the way to Shark Tank, pitching ideas and then through a process of elimination, these two teams are pitted against each other in order to ultimately get the backing of these two superstars,” he explains.

Based on a UK format Ramsay has fronted, but Nine will strip the show for the Australian market.

“A version of it has but this will look very different to that. Outside the broad structure, it doesn’t resemble it in a lot of ways.”

Filming will begin immediately post-Easter.

RPA, which was filmed at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital for 18 years, is revived by Nine and confirmed for Q2, now with Rodger Corser narrating.

Sarah Abo has moved to the Today show while Allison Langdon anchors A Current Affair. Back this Sunday with fresh content is 60 Minutes, now in its 44th year.

Parental Guidance, produced by Eureka, returns for its second series this year after being held over from 2022.

“This was shot last year and just the way the year fell, we felt it was going to be better suited to middle of the year. Primarily, the rationale behind that is as you know, when you get into summer, it’s lighter, a different type of audience.”

With Allison Langdon also moving to A Current Affair in ’23, is it unusual to have a news anchor fronting a reality show?

“I think the broader challenge for us is, what do you do with Ally throwing to Ally…?”

“We feel it will be a fitting testament to an absolute Australian icon.”

Nine’s first local drama for the year is the two part miniseries Warnie starring Alex Williams in the lead role. The Warne family criticised network plans when it was first announced last year, but drama producers have since held discussions.

“It’s everything that made him the big character that he was,” says Turner.

“All reports are that it is going to be very strong. A celebration of his life that will touch on noisy parts as well. We’ve worked very closely with his manager and the family and we feel it will be a fitting testament to an absolute Australian icon.”

Six part crime drama Human Error, to be filmed in Melbourne is by producers from John and Dan Edwards.

“It’s inspired by a true story with John Sylvester (Underbelly) as a producer. So, this basically is about a detective, ‘Holly O’Rourke’, who has an open and shut murder investigation, but it goes haywire and threatens to destroy her career. It’s the world of her family interacting with this crime that unfolds before your eyes.”

Loveable jetsetters Travel Guides finally have the world opened up to them, with new mum Mel unable to travel replaced by her brother with cowgirl sister, Stack.

Hot Seat reaches 2500 episodes this year while Taronga: Who’s Who in the Zoo?, Paramedics, Emergency, Million Dollar Murders  Australian Crime Stories: The Investigators all return.

In Sport across the network are NRL, State of Origin, Rugby Union World Cup, WNBL, FINA World Swimming Championships,

This year Nine also has The Ashes screening 25 days of of action from the middle of year.

“Shorter-run event pieces provide a nice break in the schedule”

New in 2023 is Australia’s Most Identical described as ‘the ultimate search for the nation’s most identical twins.’ Scott Cam and Jana Pittman are the hosts with a cameo from twin English doctors, the Van Tulleken brothers.

“It’s a fun two-parter, a bit of event TV, so possibly a Sunday night somewhere in the year.” Turner continues. “Shorter-run event pieces provide a nice break in the schedule and something to really push an audience to. From a scheduling perspective, it provides you with a little bit of utility in terms of having to change gears or, put it in when the schedule requires it.”

Cam will also lead Nine’s big reality series The Block, now in its 19th season and rumoured to be set in Charming Street, Hampton East.

“We haven’t been presented with the cast yet so that’s generally the first thing we see, which I assume we’ll see in a couple of weeks time and then we get into filming again.”

The renovation series underpins nearly two quarters for Nine, however last year’s auction drew a reaction when homes did not sell or where purchased for mega-millions by two wealthy bidders.

“A really strong platform for character”

“What it delivered was a really strong platform for character and being able to take that audience into different directions. I think the ambition for each series is through the lens of both the new characters, but also the new property. But I take the point. Inflation is going up, real estate prices continuing to grow. Obviously, it’s a broader issue nationally in terms of cost of living and affordability,” he explains.

“We knew that the market had stalled and we’ve seen several real interest rate hikes. It was going to put pressure on that option.”

Turner maintains the show also offers decorating and renovation ideas for viewers, regardless.

“It’s about delivering affordability, but also aspiration,where you can showcase new trends, new styles, and I think for a lot of people, it’s about taking insights out of that. So maybe they see a tile or something which they can then appropriate and take into their own home. And I know personally, you look at something online, and off you go.

“But (the auction) is something we’re conscious of.”

There is promising news for Love Island fans.

“It did extraordinarily well from a digital perspective. A lot of the episodes started delivering above 400,000 from a 9Now perspective, and there’s probably only one other show that does that: MAFS,” he continues.

“To get back to Spain, with great weather and to see that joy play out on air, we were very happy with the season. …we’ll be looking at what season five looks like in 2023.”

“We need to ensure that we’re getting the right balance across the year.”

However several shows are not returning in ’23: Beauty & the Geek, Celebrity Apprentice, Australian Ninja Warrior.

“This year for us is a very different year, as 2024 will be, in that we have 25 days of primetime Ashes through the middle of year. So when we’re constructing a schedule an our entertainment slide, we need to ensure that we’re getting the right balance across the year.

“Beauty & the Geek served very well for us against the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games. We’re giving it a rest this year but we haven’t made any official announcement as to what we’re going to do with it moving forward,” he insists.

“Ninja primarily where it sat, was going to be up (alongside) the cricket… because it leans into sports / entertainment space it wasn’t going to be right for 2023.”

Property series Dream Listings is not returning, Nine confirms no more for After the Verdict and discussions continue around more for SnackMasters.

“It could come back to specials, but we’re yet to make a decision.”

What about My Mum, Your Dad?

“We’re very happy with the show,” Turner adds. “The show has been picked up in multiple territories. But we’re looking definitely to find a way forward with it, and we’re actively casting.”

Tomorrow: SBS: Natalie Edgar

15 Responses

  1. Interesting to hear the reasons why those reality shows aren’t returning…normally we just hear “rested” or “not in our schedule at the moment” etc. Is it just me or are all the execs so far being a little more open and transparent than usual? Really appreciate it for us TVT readers who are interested. I don’t wonder when some of those reliable shows will start to show signs of audience fatigue. Nine and Ten will continue to get most of my commercial FTA viewing attention on 2023.

  2. Don’t watch much Nine, another FTA with mostly the same old same old and a few new ones thrown in for good measure. Can’t handle the “shouty chef”, he’s like the angry parrot “Pebbles” doing the rounds on YouTube and socials, surely he must eventually suffer jaw ache and give the F bombs a rest. Identical Twins might be okay but I hope they don’t have the two from Perth that were on Gogglebox UK showing together and sharing the same boyfriend which was cringeworthy viewing. RPA was one of Nines better shows but it went down hill after Professor Chris O’Brien died, the episode dedicated to him was just heartbreaking, but then again it was a knock off of a UK show called “Jimmy” filmed at St James Hospital, so no originality there. MAFS with the scandal, betrayal and over the top desperation that’s like looking through the keyhole to see what couples get up too. Warnie that’s sacrilege let him rest in peace. I’ll give most of Nine a big miss.

  3. Another great article and insights into the minds of a TV programmer.

    Very interesting to read how he has put into context for the reason behind Beauty & the Geek, Celebrity Apprentice, Australian Ninja Warrior not returning this year.

    I am most excited about Travel Guide and looking forward to Mel’s brother.

  4. Looking forward to Travel Guides, lighthearted and funny.
    Shame only two dramas and one a mini-series and the other a 6-part crime series.
    Interesting insight overall.

  5. I guess at least they have stopped pretending MAFS is a valuable scientific or social experiment. After 9 seasons with 102 couples only 5 are together, that proves that in 95.1% of cases putting couples together to generate conflict, adultery and melodrama doesn’t lead to successful relationships. Of course if they were seriously trying to match people then they are very, very bad at it. And unlike a soap opera they don’t pay writers or the performers award wages.

  6. Wow! This is a good offering this year for Nine! I’m looking forward to watching the rest of MAFS, Big Miracles, Under Investigation, The Summit, RPA, Parental Guidance, Warnie, Human Error, Travel Guides, Paramedics, Emergency, Million Dollar Murders , Australian Crime Stories: The Investigators and Love Island

    I’m disappointed to learn that Beauty & the Geek, Celebrity Apprentice and Australian Ninja Warrior aren’t coming back this year, but I do understand the reasons why they’re not coming back this year

  7. Great summary David. Both seven and nine seem to have quite decent offerings. Seven look solid with their “spine” of morning and evening news. Nine super solid with dominant reality offerings. I can’t help reflect on the fact that MKR was doing for seven what MAFS is currently doing for Nine. It doesn’t last forever….that said, MAFS started very strong this year. Nine having the Ashes cricket must peeve seven. Last thought: Australian Idol overnight numbers for Monday not great and it will be interesting to see the 7 day numbers. MAFS is a water cooler show and most I am guessing will watch live; perhaps Idol less so. Seven don’t need Idol to beat MAFS rather just to decent numbers to give them a chance for a weekly win. H&A last year doubled there overnight numbers routinely in the 800k-900k 7 day numbers. Maybe Idol will have a decent uplift…..

  8. Hamish Turner and co deserve a pay rise. What a schedule! Full of depth, just the right amount of risk and stability. Variety of options for different tastes and focused heavily on audience feedback, seeking to always improve even the most successful of formats like MAFS and The Block. Can’t ask for much more

  9. Wow, for the first time in years, it looks like Channel 9 might have more than one show worth watching. This year I’ll watch Space Invaders and likely check out Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars.

Leave a Reply