Four Corners to return with “Howard’s End”. Four Corners returns on Monday night with a program entitled “Howard’s End” and I don’t think it’s the EM Forster novel. A press release says:

On Four Corners… Liberal powerbrokers speak out, exposing the backroom dramas and leadership enmities that helped bury John Howard and his government.

For nearly a year John Howard lived with a spectre of humiliation – the increasing prospect of his government being tossed aside, his own Bennelong seat swamped in a Labor deluge.

At Kirribilli House on election night, November 24, he gathered with family, close friends and staffers to watch the TV coverage – and to witness his own power ebbing away.

He was ready. “He sort of just said, ‘Well, that’s it then, I’m dead meat’,” his old right hand man Arthur Sinodinos tells Four Corners.

What’s interesting is that Four Cs has a new executive producer, Sue Spencer, who is also the executive producer of The Howard Years, which was announced as a new series at last week’s 2008 launch. So is this a trial run? — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
Surprisingly Underbelly wasn’t the most watched program last night. Seven News was with 1.436 million, with Ten’s Back To You next with 1.344 million at 8pm (another solid start for a new Ten show). Underbelly was 3rd and 4th as Nine cunningly coded it as two programs, despite promoting it as special two hour ep — the 8.30pm ep had 1.326 million and the 9.30pm ep averaged 1.324 million. Nine News lifted to 1.302 million, followed by Today Tonight (1.290 million), the 7pm ABC News (1.281 million), House (which was hurt by Underbelly, 1.257 million), Seven’s RSPCA Animal Rescue (1.216 million), Home And Away (1.202 million), A Current Affair (1.196 million), Rules of Engagement (solid for its debut with 1.126 million), Spicks And Specks (which also lost viewers to Underbelly, 1.083 million) and The Real Seachange (1.044 million). The Chopping Block lifted by 300,000 viewers (thanks Underbelly) to 1.040 million at 7.30pm and The Biggest Loser climbed to average 1.001 million. Seven’s new UK crime drama, Lewis, a spin off from Morse, averaged 941,000 for two hours from 8.30pm. Nine would have been expecting at least 700,000 plus for Underbelly in Melbourne, which would have lifted it to around 2.2 million. Another 550,000 watched in regional areas where it was the second most watched program, but wasn’t coded into two programs.

The Losers: Victorian TV viewers. Two And A Half Men, 935,000 at 7pm: better than the previous nights, but still leaving Nine short 200,000 viewers from ACA. The New Inventors on the ABC at 8pm, up to 893,000 but the competition is stiff. If Underbelly had screened in Victoria, the programs from 8pm to 11pm on the other networks would have lost a lot more viewers and made for some miserable numbers.

News & CA: Seven News won Sorry Day nationally but lost Melbourne and Brisbane. Today Tonight lost heavily in Melbourne and Brisbane to ACA, but won elsewhere. ACA lifted in Sydney but was still well beaten by TT. The 7pm ABC News was second in Sydney and Melbourne. The 7.30 Report averaged 981,000. Ten News, 908,000; Late News/Sports Tonight, 418,000. Nightline, 158,000. Lateline, 327,000; Lateline Business, 141,000. 6.30 pm World News Australia on SBS News, 215,000 at 6.30pm; 171,000 at 9.30pm; Dateline, 156,000. 7am Sunrise up to 458,000; Today 288,000. A clear win to Sunrise on Sorry Morning!

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 30.1% from Seven with 25.7%, Ten with 22.6%, the ABC with 16.8% and SBS 4.7%. Nine won all five metro markets and the bush. But Seven still leads the week 28.0% to 27.2% with Ten on 24.1%. In regional areas WIN/NBN won with 32.2% from Prime/7Qld with 27.3%, Ten down with 19.7%, the ABC with 15.5% and SBS on 5.2%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Underbelly, Underbellly, Underbelly. It wasn’t anywhere near as good as The Moonlight State by Chris Masters on Four Corners all those years ago. That was real and involved taking on a corrupt police force and a compromised State Government, but Nine can be proud of its baby. It’s just a pity the legal advice taken (or not taken) during the production was so flawed. What interests me about the next 12 eps is how they will fill the hole left by Vince Colosimo. He was such a rich, dark, dangerous, charismatic character that the series will struggle without him popping up regularly. The Carl Williams character is terrifyingly accurate from what I have read and the little I have seen. He will have to assume the Colosimo dominance if the series is to maintain its strengths. The s-x and bare breasts were not needed. I am told it was originally designed for the 9.30pm timeslot but Nine management decided it would be screened at 8.30pm, hence the M classification and extensive content warnings. Judging from the demo breakdowns from last night, Underbelly grabbed male viewers as expected, but didn’t really force female viewers to turn away. The only group that didn’t like it was the over 55s. That’s good for Nine because that was the one demo where it built audience last year. The Chopping Block was still aggravating because of the people involved, but to recover from 718,000 to 1.040 million last night will take some of the pressure off Nine.

Source: OzTAM, TV Network reports

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey