“Utopia” … series one “Protected Species” …
Hugh: “It’s the environmental report”.
Nat: “Is it good news?”
Nat: “You’re smiling”.
Hugh: “I shouldn’t be.”
Funny? … yeah … it catches you out with the diametrically opposed expectation of Hugh smiling at the bad news … but that’s how it was last Wednesday night as the Lateline crew bade us cheerio after approximately thirty years of a once hallmark news reporting program … laughter and smiles all ‘round! A bit like the clown going to the gallows with forward tumbles. We here on the Mallee ottoman were weeping in despair … yet here was the cast and crew of that milestone event laughing and chirpy as they all lose their gig. We watching were wondering where we will now get our fill of cutting edge inquiry while it looked as if they were wondering when the prosecco will flow! I couldn’t be sure if I was watching the closing moments of a flash-dance routine from “No, No, Nanette!” or a flashback to the toothy closing homeliness of a 1960’s Annette, Darlene and (was it); Mike of the Mickey Mouse Club … “M-eye-C … See you real soon!”
Is this what the ABC is all about now … an endless cavalcade of light-weight entertainment? More of those slim-tie sharp-witted “lotharios and dames” dressed to kill yet give interviews comparable in inquiry to the mesmerising spreading of “Pecks Paste” onto your school lunch bread by mum’s smooth-handed butter-knife? Leaving you wondering if you will get the chance to exchange it with Kevin Ricketts for one of his regular bung-fritz sandwiches.
I often wonder where the ABC gets its survey results from that influence the dropping of this or that show. While I can sympathise with the need to limit now that once delightful “Qi” to only the fifteenth repeat and reduce the body-count on our screens by substituting Midsomer Murders with Father Brown I was surprised that the ABC management decided to drop Lateline completely and re-slot 7.30 to 9.30pm. with also a shake-up of presenters.
And I see that both PM and The World Today are being halved and Myf Warhurst is to present an “entertaining piece” in place. Now … I got nothing against Ms Warhurs … I admit she was bright and breezy on Spicks and Specks, exchanging quiz repartee with Alan Brough et al, and I expect the inserted “entertaining piece” will be just as springy as that! But I have to question whether “drive-time” is the place for cheery repartee when one is just arrived home and is splashing a couple of fingers of the old Cardonnay into a glass to help forget those aching muscles? Perhaps one of those surveys so diligently analysed by the ABC management has shown that is precisely what is wanted!
If we cut back to early this year when Michelle Guthrie first signalled the cuts.
“In her first interview since announcing a major restructure of the organisation, including up to 200 job cuts in management, content roles and support services, the ABC boss further outlined her program of investment in digital and on-demand platforms.
Asked what this approach would mean for 7.30, Lateline and the 7pm news, Ms Guthrie said that all programs and formats should be up for review.
“You only have to look at what we did with Catalyst, which shows an example of the way we should look at continually refreshing programs,” she told RN Drive.
“We didn’t axe Catalyst. We’ve changed Catalyst to be a one-hour documentary program over 17 hours. That’s an example of the way we should be looking at ways of delivering.
“I think we should be looking at all our programs and looking at the impact they’re having on audiences, and looking at new ways of telling those stories. I do feel that people are not turning to the 7pm news to find out what happens that day, so what does that mean?”
To me it meant that since the Murdoch Movers and Shakers had taken over at the ABC, most news and investigative shows had deteriorated so that some are not even worth watching! I suspect because like the corrupt Emperor who punished honest Senators because they made him look so much worse, the ABC is making the commercial channels look so downright terrible in comparison that Murdoch has instructed his protégé to throw a spanner into the works … next thing, of course, will be the surprised announcement that because of falling off of viewers, the ABC will have to be sold to recoup losses and to pay down the Labor’s fault budget debt.
Meanwhile … we can all settle back after a day in the Elysian Fields of hard labour and be “entertained” by the erstwhile Ms Myf as (because of budget cuts) she does her “one person” show impersonating the Berlin Symphonic Orchestra playing and singing Handel’s Messiah in G minor! I can see Alan Brough now, smiling condescendingly and giving her the slow hand-clap.