The final part of the Stargazing three parter on ABC TV last night was a triumph of risk taking – by the panel, the people who took part (finding a whole new solar system 600 light years away) and for viewers. Yes its a BBC concept (marketed not by BBC Worldwide, but by Fremantle). But in terms of Australian TV it was a risk — many scientists are not known for their TV skills. But Brian Cox,  with astronomers Charlie Quicke and Alan Duffy, and astrophysicists Dr Lisa Harvey-Smith and Dr Chris Lintott were all pros. Their chat was easy going and engaging, not inaccessible or nerdy and — along with other people over the three nights — made it a great experience.

Aliens was the subject, but it was the efforts of the audience in discovering a solar system (of a type that hasn’t been seen before) that really stole the show. Spearheading that was a young mechanic from Darwin. The program also featured a 10- year-old girl in Melbourne who stunned Brian Cox with her knowledge of astronomy and physics. And keeping all this pointed towards the end each night and then conducting in the half hour chat on ABC 2 from 9.30pm was Julia Zemiro. 

There was a big message from Stargazing for viewers, TV critics and producers and TV networks – yes you can buy a format from overseas, but it has to be turned into something Australian TV viewers will watch. Stargazing had 699,000 viewers last night across the country, with 254,000 watching the half hour of panel chat on ABC 2. On each of the three nights, it was a top 15 program nationally, which is probably better than anyone at the ABC had hoped.

In breakfast, Sunrise won nationally again from Today, and also easily beat Nine in the metros with an average of 318,000 viewers to 281,000, That is weak.

Overall it was Seven’s night in the metros and regions. Ten beat the ABC into third because of the performance of the final ep (in this series) of Gogglebox.

My Kitchen Rules topped regional markets with 617,000 viewers, followed by Seven News with 557,000, Seven News/Today Tonight was 3rd with 493,000, Home and Away was 4th with 471,000 and the 5.30pm segment of The Chase was 5th with 365,000. — Read the rest on the Crikey website

Peter Fray

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