There would have been a lot of strutting and backslapping around Nine last night as Million Dollar Wheel had its best ever figures and Nine News and A Current Affair perked up, with Eddie McGuire being talked about as David Gyngell’s masterstroke.

Well, it was a holiday Monday last night and wet in Sydney and Perth. Let’s see how he does tonight when its back to the normal working week.

TV viewing levels always perk up in the early evening on the Queen’s Long weekend: the combination of winter and the holiday make for an earlier turn on for viewing. No homework or parents late home from work.

It’s why Wheel averaged 756,000, Nine News 1.517 million but 200,000 behind Seven News, and why A Current Affair perked up to average 1.429 million, close to its best audience for months and just 31,000 behind Seven’s Today Tonight which is coming from Brisbane.

Of course Eddie’s hosting of ACA will be factor claimed by Nine, especially the 465,000 who watched home town boy host the program out of the southern capital.

Eddie was brought in at the last moment on Friday: normal host, Tracy Grimshaw is moving back to Melbourne and the $1.7 million new house she has bought. Leila McKinnon filled in last week and saw the program’s ranking tumble from 28 for Tracy’s last week to number 39 by the close of ratings on Saturday at midnight.

By then the host for the second week, Karl Stefanovic had something “come up” and David Gyngell brought Eddie in to host, despite his mate and Melbourne Nine boss, Jeff Browne claiming earlier on Friday that Eddie and Nine were talking about things and he had to be patient.

That was around midday, within hours Dave Gyngell had his bright idea and Karl’s problem had been resolved by having Eddie sit in. So how did he go? Well, let’s just say Tracy Grimshaw’s long term hosting gig isn’t threatened.

Eddie had been lobbying last year for Nine to go to an hour long news and current affairs program from 6pm to 7pm, with ACA folded into it with some hosting involvement from him. That went nowhere and on his performance last night, which had a touch of the game show host about it.

Did I mention gameshow host? Well this is something not being shouted from the Nine Network today.

Eddie’s return to host 1 vs. 100 bombed terribly in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth on Friday. Just 199,000 in Melbourne and beaten by Seven’s Better Homes And Gardens, the ABC duo of Statewide and The Collectors and Big Brother. It averaged 359,000 on the night from 7.30pm to 8.30pm.

Returning the dud program was an idea of Melbourne Nine management (Jeff Browne and programmer Len Downes) to try and take viewers away from Seven on the AFL night. It failed. Nine finished third behind Ten and Better Homes on Seven had double the viewers with 408,000.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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