Sportingbet has Rove McManus as the even money favourite at $2.00 to win another Gold Logie next month. That’s as close to a sure thing as you could get in TV, after a year in which his wife, Belinda Emmett, died and he spent time away from the screen before returning to Sunday nights for Ten.

Rove will win the gold with Home and Away star, Kate Ritchie, the only contender thought a chance to worry him — Sportingbet has her at $3.25 to win (Natalie Blair is the rank outsider at $26).

But it is clear after just two outings that Rove’s Sunday night program needs some work to make it interesting. Unlike the host, the program is no sure thing, despite the help it will get from Big Brother when it returns in a couple of weeks.

The debut averaged 1.69 million viewers, but last Sunday that fell to 999,000; a sharp drop, even accounting for the normal fall in viewing over Easter.

The program is all over the place, unfocused and needs work to help it settle down. Graham Kennedy should be the model, not to copy but simply to look at how he used his program to entertain viewers.

If you use someone of Dave Hughes’ standing with the target 18 to 49 demographic (he would be considered to be a better talent than Rove by many in that group), he has to be used to his advantage, or not at all. So far, Hughes has only done small, pointless, (seemingly) off the top of the head raves.

Rove’s producers have to work out where Hughes goes and what they do with him. The trouble is that he is such a good performer that he may be seen to be challenging Rove for the lead presenter role.

The chats with Peter Helliar are OK: they’re a throwback to Tuesday nights. But Sunday evenings are different to weeknights. Helliar is a less “noisy” character compared to Hughes or Hamish and Andy and he’s a fine foil for Rove at the moment.

But it needs a bit of guts, some zing at its core that people can look forward to. So far the star guests have been Toni Collette and Rose Byrne: both were adequate but you didn’t remember much.

If Ten wants some currency or some zing, put some AFL footballers into the program on a Sunday night (just a suggestion) or find someone with more zip and personality. All it needs is confidence at the network level and at the host/producer level.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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