Blue Heelers survives the axe

The
decision by the Nine Network to cancel its series, The Alice probably did more
than just cut costs for the Network. It has
enabled the Seven Network to reach agreement on a deal that will see its
struggling police drama series, Blue Heelers, return to TV screens next
year.

The
common element in both shows is Southern Star, the production house owned
by Southern Cross Broadcasting. The
Alice
was a
prestigious series for Southern Star, the biggest new production of 2005 coming
on top of the most successful tele movie of
2004. Blue
Heelers
(and All Saints) had been revamped in 2004 boosting ratings for both,
but while the medical mob survived the departure of long-time star, Georgie Parker, earlier this year,
Blue Heelers sagged in the ratings, especially over the past three
months.

Viewers
tired of the ‘same old same old’ and rumours started
circulating of a possible demise. Seven
was confident that would not happen but all the Network would say was that it
was in discussions with Southern Star about the series return in
2006. They
concluded this week when Blue Heelers‘ audience pushed past the one million
mark, averaging just over 1.1 million on Wednesday night. The
program has been downsized (or right-sized), costs have been cut and a new
budget for 2006 approved. But it faces a second review early in 2006.

Production starts straight away on the new series of
Blue Heelers
. It first went to air in 1994. So
that’s one-all for Seven in local drama this year: Blue Heelers saved, Last Man
Standing
killed off after failing to set the world on fire. But Seven didn’t handle it well, moving the program around
timeslots.

Will Grimshaw replace Ray Martin?

That old rumour about Tracy Grimshaw replacing Ray Martin as host of the Nine Network’s A Current Affair in 2006 is back in circulation.

Grimshaw has been the stalwart holding Nine’s stumbling Today show
together this year. She’s also a successful summer edition host of ACA,
and is lined up to do that again in the coming summer season.

Ellen Fanning has been widely suggested as Martin’s replacement, especially after being given the Nightline program to host a month ago. But whether she takes over from Ray is not certain at this stage.

Nine, ACA management and Ray have some serious thinking
to do. Does he want to continue battling away, or do something else?
One idea is to put Ray on the road as a reporter. It’s his strength, as
he showed in Aceh in the Tsunami reporting in January and on several
other occasions this year.

Nine could easily afford to style him on the likes of Charles Kuralt, a reporter who did a program for years for CBS called On The Road, travelling throughout the US filing reports for CBS News and other programs.

Ray
has the ability and maturity to do that, and can probably be better
used in ways that reward him, viewers and Nine, while also keeping him
on screen. For all his faults, he’s still head and shoulders above
anyone else on the Nine Network.

Last night’s TV
ratings

The Winners

Nine, thanks to the NRL Footy Show, mainly in Sydney, where it was
the third most watched program in another night of low viewing levels compared
to Melbourne. Getaway did well for Nine with 1.287 million people and the second
most watched program. Seven’s Home and Away (1.419 million) was the most watched
program at 7pm and then it was downhill for all networks. Temptation was well
back on 1.244 million. Seven News, Today Tonight, The Mole and Las Vegas all did
reasonable figures, but Nine prevailed. The ABC had its best night of the week
with a consistent performance from news, 7.30 Report, Catalyst, the new series,
Fact or Fiction and the first of another new series looking at the Nazis’
Final Solution
.
The Losers

Again, no real losers, Nine’s programming was broken up
with the Footy Show in the north and You Are What You Eat and Body Work in
Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Ten has finished with Law and OrderTrial by
Jury
and started running double episodes of the Law and Order SVU series, which
performed OK as repeats.

News & CA


Seven News
and Today Tonight again won – Seven News and Today
Tonight
won in Sydney and Perth, while Nine News and A Current Affair
won Melbourne and Brisbane. Adelaide was split with Nine winning the news and
Seven the 6.30 pm battle with TT. The big win in Perth by the two Seven programs
was again the differences between winning and losing nationally, although the
margins in Sydney were once again convincing in favour of Seven.
The Stats

Nine with 29.7% from Seven with 26.8% Ten with 21,0%,
the ABC with 17.3% and SBS with 5.3% Nine won Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
Seven won Brisbane and Perth.
Glenn Dyer’s
comments

And that loss by Nine to Seven in Brisbane is the most interesting
story. The NRL Footy Show just didn’t click in Brisbane, even though a
state team, the North Queensland Cowboys, are playing Wests Tigers from
Sydney in Sunday’s Grand Final. It was watched by only 161,000 from
8.30 pm to 11pm in Brisbane. That made it number 13, compared to Number
3 in Sydney. A total of 532,000 people watched the program in both
cities.More people watched the AFL Footy Show‘s Grand Final edition in
Melbourne last week (594,000). Says something about the underwhelming
attraction of the NRL show, despite the most even and interesting
season for a decade. Tonight and tomorrow night no football to affect
ratings, just straight “entertainment.” So will Seven sneak a win
Friday night and then fall in a hole on Saturday night, like it has
done several times in the past six weeks? Sunday night of course
belongs to Nine with the NRL Grand Final and a huge audience in Sydney
and Brisbane.

Peter Fray

Save up to 50% on a year of Crikey.

This extraordinary year is almost at an end. But we know that time waits for no one, and we won’t either. This is the time to get on board with Crikey.

For a limited time only, choose what you pay for a year of Crikey.

Save up to 50% or dig deeper so we can dig deeper.

See you in 2021.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

SAVE 50%