Murder mystery rates No.1. There’s nothing like a good murder mystery to get people either reading a book or the paper or watching the TV. And when it’s THE murder mystery in Australia of the past 40 years or so, and it has been skillfully teased, with memories of events around New Year’s Day, 1963, the interest is raised to a new level. So it’s no wonder that a lot of people tuned into watch ABC’s doco on the Bogle-Chandler case last night. But it was surprising that so many watched, more than 1.78 million on average which made it the most watched program on the night. The hour long documentary put up a credible thesis, provided some new and interesting ideas, revealed a fact or two and showed up all the forensic-style programs on all networks. Can you imagine CSI cracking this case, or Forensic Investigators reaching a successful conclusion? Those programs need an ending. With the Bogle-Chandler case, the ending may have been provided last night, but we will never know conclusively. It was also a nice glance back to a very different Australia. Fancy the coroner of the time not telling the police or the government toxicologist about the presence of semen on Dr Bogle’s coat, as revealed last night. The former toxicologist was not happy about that and the disclosure about the purplish tinge to the blood samples which the expert said could have resulted from Hydrogen sulphide poisoning was another interesting point to emerge. The success of the doco helped the ABC into third place last night behind Nine and Seven. And it re-asserted the usefulness of the documentary-style of program making to look at difficult stories and tell them entertainingly. In that, the ABC has once again shown a willingness to take the risks that the commercial networks now shy away from. — Glenn Dyer

Terror dogs Germaine, misses local shock horror outrage. The full creative forces of the Daily Telegraph have been unleashed on serial dingbat Germaine Greer, the Murdoch organ boasting of sending her a muzzle – and pretty yellow one at that – while calling “on all Crocodile Hunter fans to tell the controversial academic exactly how they feel”. So caught up is the Terror in keeping the Steve Irwin readership interest rolling, it seems to have missed a ripper yarn in its own backyard. There’s been plenty of coverage of the death of a 63-year-old quadriplegic man, Stephen Chin, who was set alight while he slept in his Daceyville NSW Housing Department bungalow. Early Wednesday morning police charged his estranged wife, Grace Soon, 69, with Chin’s murder. The very Terror angle is that the couple were in dispute “over 19 premises and homes in NSW, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia as part of divorce proceedings”. With the usual long waiting lists for public housing, here was someone with an interest in 19 properties taking up space. Where’s the Terror’s campaign about squandering scarce public resources on the landlord class?
— Michael Pascoe

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: A good murder mystery and people tune in. Helpful if it’s part of the memories of hundreds of thousands of people. So no wonder 1.782 million tuned in to watch the documentary ‘solution’ to the mystery deaths. It was a good 300,000 or more viewers clear of the second most popular program, Seven News, with 1.467 million. Today Tonight was third with 1.437 million (the best result this week), Home and Away won the 7 pm battle with 1.359 million. Nine’s old stager, Getaway was 5th with 1.346 million, A Current Affair was 6th with 1.331 million, Nine News was next with 1.322 million and Seven’s My Name Is Earl rose nicely to average 1.321 million. Temptation (Nine, 7 pm) was on 1.214 million in 9th and Seven’s 7.30 pm program, How I Met Your Mother also picked up viewers to average 1.148 million. The Footy Shows averaged 1.111 million and was the 11th and final program to average a million or more viewers last night.

The Losers: Seven’s Bones at 9.30pm a bit weak with 881,000 viewers but Seven continues to groom it for next year. David Tench on Ten with 586,000. Crushed by Bogle Chandler. Bert averaged 546,000 for his Family Feud which was around the normal Thursday level. Ten didn’t help Tench or Ronnie Johns by screening a weather special at 7.30 pm. Not the strongest of lead-ins with just 607,000 viewers. Seven’s Celebrity Survivor slipped to 948,000 and not looking good. Two and A Half Men on Nine also fell sharply to average 899,000 and thankfully behind Celebrity Survivor.

News & CA: Seven News reasserted itself and Today Tonight followed: both beat Nine News nationally and without the big margins in Perth but in the case of TT it was close. Seven News had a sharp rise in Sydney to win and it also won Perth and Adelaide. Nine News won Melbourne and Brisbane. Seven News won by 145,000 nationally and 100,000 in Perth. TT won by 106,000 nationally and 103,000 in Perth. TT though won Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Nine won Melbourne. Both TT and ACA had virtually the same run downs last night: Just different orders. There was a Steve Irwin-rubbish Germaine Greer yarn (which saw TT steal and re-frame ACA‘s interview with her from Wednesday night), there was a story on large sized female models, another on perfume and fake luxury goods. It was very hard to tell them apart. Viewers could and opted for Naomi over Karl Stefanovic. The 7pm ABC News averaged 958,000 and The 7.30 Report, 833,000. Sunrise beat Today 462,000, but Today was back over 300,000 with 310,000 for the second time this week.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 31.3% (30.1% a week earlier) from Seven with 27.4%, the ABC on 20.0% (16.3%), Ten with 15.9% (20.6) and SBS with 5.4% (4.9%). Nine won Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. Seven won Brisbane closely and had a bigger win in Perth. Nine leads the week 29.3% to 28.1%. In regional areas Nine won through WIN/NBN with 32.2%, from Prime/7Qld with 26.8%, the ABC was third with 19.6%, Sthn Cross (Ten) was fourth with 15.4% and SBS was on 6.0%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: The power of story telling was again demonstrated last night and it cost Ten third place, although apart from David Tench and Ronnie Johns, the Network had nothing on worth watching. Documentaries are expensive compared to the cost of an ACA, TT or 60 Minutes story, but last night was far more satisfying an example of story telling than anything seen on commercial TV, with the exception of RPA on Nine which is by far the best of its kind going around Teleland. Tonight it’s the NRL for Nine in Sydney and Brisbane and Life after the AFL elsewhere. Everyone in TV will be watching the ratings for Nine in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Nine’s AFL Footy Show was stronger (433,000 viewers) last night than the NRL program (301,000). It’s why Nine ended up winning. Tomorrow night Ten has the Swans on from 7pm in Sydney and Brisbane half an hour after the Broncos kick-off against St George from Brisbane. The Swans game will still be going when that ends around 9pm. But the NRL games will give Nine a win this week. And if you want to see how a murder mystery shouldn’t be done, watch the slow Midsomer Murders on the ABC tonight and set the alarm, you will fall asleep.

Peter Fray

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