The Parrot signs off: Shed a tear for Alan Jones as he gives his last address to the nation on Today.

Sandra Levy’s mystery tour continues. Sandra Levy continues her Flying Dutchman-type odyssey through the Australian TV industry. In late 2005, she surprised everyone by leaping from the comforting arms of the ABC, where she was head honchette of TV, to the Willoughby swamps of the Nine Network and the brief regime of Sam Chisholm. That lasted only a few months after Chisholm was forced out by John Alexander and others at Park Street. Eddie McGuire arrived and promised the world, but the Park Street  toecutters arrived and started slashing budgets, including Levy’s development budget to a miniscule $100,000 (from a reported $1 million). She quit and went on the long list of Nine “consultants” and odd-jobbing around TV until she again surprised six week ago by popping up at Andrew Denton’s production company, Zapruder’s Other Films. But she only lasted a month before quitting yesterday to go and head up the Australian Film and Television School, where she will replace the far more widely experienced Malcolm Long. He had extensive radio and TV experience; she has just had experience in TV production, which makes the appointment a touch strange. Still, she knows the TV industry backwards and has extensive contacts. — Glenn Dyer

Friday special: gratuitous list of Neighbours celebrity cameos: Little Britain‘s Lou and Andy magically appeared in Harold’s cafe  on last night’s episode of Neighbours. So who else has visited Ramsey Street? Here’s a list: Warwick Capper (1986), Molly Meldrum (1986) , Grant Kenny (1986) , Derek Nimmo as Lord Ledgerwood (1990) , Darryl Cotton (1990) , Mike Whitney (1994) , Chris Lowe of The Pet Shop Boys (1995) , John Hinde (1995) , Iain Hewitson (1995) , Clive James as a postman (1996) , Barry Sheene (1997) , Dave Graney (1998) , Robert DiPierdomenico (1999) , Peter Chapman (1999) , Human Nature (2000) , The Wiggles (2001) , Glenn Wheatley (2002) , Jude Bolton (2002) , Brett Kirk (2002) , Karl Kruszelnicki (2004) , Shane Warne (2006) , Rove McManus (2006) , Brodie Holland (2006) , Andrew G (2007) , Emma Bunton (2007) , Michael Parkinson (2007) , Julian Clary (2007) , Neil Morrissey as a priest (2007) , Jo Whiley (2007) , Jonathan Coleman (2007) , Sinitta (2007) and… Daryl Braithwaite (2007).

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Seven News was tops again with 1.522 million viewers, ahead of Nine’s improving RPA: Where Are They Now special with 1.407 million viewers from 8.30pm. Getaway had another solid night with 1.381 million at 7.30pm. My Name Is Earl was next with 1.350 million for Seven at 8pm, followed by Today Tonight (1.346 million), just ahead of A Current Affair (1.272 million people), Home And Away (1.202 million winning the 7pm battle), How I Met Your Mother (1.197 million), Nine News (1.187 million), Temptation (1.154 million), Lost (1.150 million), Ten’s repeat of Law And Order SVU (1.067 million) and the 7pm ABC News (1.020 million). The Footy Shows averaged 1.007 million.

The Losers: Nine’s Bargain Hunt was down again to 422,000 at 5pm and was beaten by MASH on Seven — MASH finished in 1983. Antiques Roadshow held up with 578,000, but Deal Or No Deal was a clear winner with 924,000. Ten’s Teen Fit Camp, sinking slowly at 685,000. Not good enough.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market. It was either very strong (winning by 335,000 people nationally) or Nine News was particularly weak, especially in Sydney where it axes Peter Harvey’s 30-second comment piece from the end of the 6pm news tonight. It was a waste of valuable broadcast time and a rip-off of the format of some American news broadcasts. The contrast to Today Tonight‘s 74,000 gap over A Current Affair was instructive. TT won by 71,000 in Perth, so it just scraped home in the closest result between the two programs for several weeks. The 7.30 Report averaged 866,000 viewers after the strong performance of the news. Lateline averaged 205,000; Lateline Business, 110,000. Ten News averaged 871,000; the Late News/Sports Tonight, 518,000. SBS News averaged 181,000 at 6.30pm and 131,000 at 9.30pm. 7am Sunrise, 384,000; 7am Today, 278,000. Is that gap closing ever so slowly? It’s too early to say, but it’s worth watching.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 30.1% from Seven with 29.2%, Ten with 21.3%, the ABC with 14.4% and SBS on 5.0% (Inspector Rex averaged 469,000 in repeat at 7.30pm). Nine won Melbourne, Seven won the rest. Nine leads the week 28.9% to 28.2% for Seven.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: The Nine Network won because of the popularity of the AFL Footy Show in Melbourne. Nine won Melbourne, 33.7% to 27.3% for Seven, and that’s why it won nationally. The AFL show was watched by 407,000 people in Melbourne. The NRL show averaged 256,000 in Sydney and 144,000 in Brisbane. Nine lost Sydney and Brisbane. Under Eddie McGuire, Nine has devoted a lot of time and resources to the AFL Footy Show and its sister program, Footy Classified, but the NRL Footy Show should have had the same attention because more money is stake. Nine spends tens of millions of dollars a year on its NRL coverage. It reflects the AFL-centric attention of Eddie and his Melbourne crew. Tonight it’s Better Homes and Gardens and the AFL on Seven vs. the NRL on Nine. Tomorrow night it’s a battle of movies (no AFL in Sydney and Brisbane on Ten), which will make it a very close night. If the AFL gives Seven another big win tonight, it could hang on and score a rare win in an Origin Week. Sunday it’s the usual.

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Peter Fray
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