According to reports seeping out of the besieged Nine Network newsrooms around the country, new news and current affairs boss, John Westacott, has decreed that he wants to see fewer blondes and more grunt from reporters.

That explains why Sunday co-host Ross Greenwood is the first blonde (well, fading red head) flicked from an on air role in favour of someone with more grunt in Ray Martin.

Greenwood was never Westacott’s favourite. In 2004 he flicked him from reporting for A Current Affair (Westy was then ACA EP) after one story came in late and was a bit “soft”. When Westacott took the top job, Greenwood was always going to be an early candidate for the chop, along with ACA‘s current boss, Darren Wick.

Martin will co-host Sunday with Ellen Fanning from this week and the program will be freshened up with new segments and a new look.

The problem is that it has expended a lot of its capital with viewers through last year’s ham-fisted axing of Jana Wendt (an event Ray Martin watched happen without protest) and then the downmarket lightweight approach of Greenwood and Fanning sharing the hosting roles.

That was the doing of former News and Current Affairs boss, Garry Linnell and then Sunday EP John Lyons. Both have now departed Nine and Sunday is in the hands of Paul Steindhl who at least understands the old Sunday‘s quality approach.

But will Ray Martin? For all the leaks in News Ltd papers about him not getting on with Westacott and leaving at the end of the year, he leapt at the chance to regain the TV limelight by co-hosting Sunday.

This is the first major move by Nine to revamp itself in the key area of news and current affairs where Nine has lost ground to Seven and the ABC (and even SBS, given the coverage Dateline gives to overseas stories).

Peter Fray

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