More on the plans by the Nine Network for a new 4.30pm program to act as a ‘lead-in’ for the new 5.30 pm version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” (if it lasts).

Nine’s News boss, Mark Calvert reckoned in his memo that it will be the bee’s knees, starring deposed Nine newsreader, Mark Ferguson:

Then, in June, we’ll launch a brand new network programme. This Afternoon will be an hour-long mix of news and current affairs, airing weekdays at 4.30pm.

Hosted by, amongst others, Fergo, it’ll hit the big stories hard. It will also look for fresh angles on topical issues, dig deeper into how those issues affect Australian families, and have some fun with stuff.

To produce the programme, we’re putting together a new team, led by Craig Sullivan. This Afternoon will have dedicated reporters, led by Peter Harvey. And it will be a showcase for the creativity of some great cameraman, picture editors and graphic designers.

Well, from the Nine bunker is that “Fergo” will only do news updates at this stage at the start and at the end of the hour long program (that will involve him working seven days a week …”I’d like to see that,” said one Nine staffer).

Andrew Daddo will host the Nine program with Leila McKinnon, aka Mrs David Gyngell, if she agrees to it. Leila is playing hard to get.

Daddo is desperate to do it, so it means he ditches his 702 ABC local radio evenings gig in Sydney for the vagaries of the Nine News system.

And, despite Mr Calvert’s certainty, the new program isn’t a forgone conclusion: some at Nine feel the reluctance of Ms McKinnon to commit to the new program could be her “inside” knowledge as to the show’s future from hubbie.

Peter Fray

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