It has taken the non-commercial ABC TV to ‘monetise’ the appeal of the runner-up in the MasterChef Australia program on the Ten Network, a move that also exposes the falsity of the claims that winning, or doing well in these programs, is a ticket to fame and fortune. The ABC said this week that Poh Ling Yeow, will be the star of ABC TV’s new cooking show to be screened in 2010.

Poh’s Kitchen will be produced in her hometown of Adelaide, and will go into production in November 2009. If it works from the early shooting, it could replace The Cook and The Chef in the 6.30 pm timeslot which concluded last night.

The ABC said in a release the show will see “Poh travelling throughout Australia on her journey to expand her knowledge of food and to add to her every increasing collection of recipes”:

Across the year long series, she will be joined in her kitchen by some of Australia’s leading chefs, who will work alongside her to cook the produce she has sourced. The series will be Executive Produced by Margot Phillips on who with the ABC Adelaide production team created and produced The Cook and the Chef.

ABC Books has signed Poh for a two book deal with the first cookbook to be published in late 2010.

So we now have the runner up with a profile, her own TV program and two books. The winner, Julie Goodwin, scored cash and appearances and wants to open her own restaurant. Poh looks like ending up with a longer career in the public eye than Julie, who seems to have different ambitions.

But what the news from the ABC does show is the absolute paucity of opportunities for winners of these reality programs on commercial TV and especially on the networks which originally hosted the programs they won.

Many are used and abused and then become the stuff of lightweight tabloid gossip hacks and hackettes driven by jealousy and the TV current affairs programs. Damien Leith, who won Idol a couple of years ago when Ten and the producers started lifting the age profile to an older demographic and away from tweenies and other under 20 female viewers, is probably the most successful of all the winners from that program.

If successful, Poh (and she will have to make some changes to appeal to ABC viewers) could very well end up with the highest profile of all reality program winners and a career based on her own ability, not on her ability to look spunky and appeal to readers of the Confidential pages in News Ltd tabloids