Friday July 10, 2020

Breakfast radio pup Michael Clarke enjoying the other side of the mic

By Trent Thomas

• The former Australian cricket captain is loving the early morning lifestyle

Former Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke has moved to the other side of the microphone since he retired in 2015. He commentated for Nine for several years when it had cricket rights. More recently he has chosen to spend his mornings on radio, co-hosting the Big Sports Breakfast as part of a revamped line-up for 2020.

Clarke sits alongside another former Australian captain in Rugby League legend Laurie Daley, reporter and presenter Gerard Middleton and newsreader Jaimee Rogers.

Clarke played 115 Tests for Australia, including 47 as captain, and in addition to his breakfast radio gig took on an ambassador role with Tabcorp.

There is plenty going on in the sports radio space. Although Macquarie Sports closed in 2019, Pacific Star will soon launch SEN 1170 on the old 2CH frequency and it is also expanding its new racing station SEN Track across New South Wales.

Talking to Mediaweek, Clarke said that while he never expected to find himself doing radio, that he had always been a fan of the Big Sports Breakfast, noting his father had listened to it since its conception.

“I never thought about radio, I never contemplated it at all and when I got presented with the opportunity I took a few days to think about it. Cricket will always be my passion but I have always loved all sports, and I have enjoyed every part of it.

“I feel like I am back in a team again. Middo, Loz and I, plus Jamie reading the news and the guys behind the scenes, all make me feel so comfortable at 4:30am each day.”

Clarke admits that he chose an interesting time to join a sports show with COVID-19 causing a global shutdown of sport shortly after starting his new role, which also forced the team out of the studio.

“It is easier being in the studio because we can play off each other, but I also think that it was a good thing for us to have that time to be able to find content without much sport being on around the world and being able to manage a really difficult situation.

“Thankfully we were able to stay on the air and thank god for racing. We were able to get sport back and be back in the studio and it is such a good feeling.”

With thoroughbred racing being a large part of the DNA of Sky Sports Radio, Clarke admitted that he’s been lucky to be surrounded by people with a lot of knowledge about the sport such as his co-host Middleton as well as regular guests Adam Pengilly and Brad Davidson.

“I am quite inexperienced when it comes to the horses. I would sometimes have a punt on the dogs but I am not a big punter when it comes to horses, but I am learning stuff every day, and Loz loves a punt so he is helping me as well.”

One thing that is not a challenge about the new job for him is the early starts with Clarke saying that he has always been an early riser.

“That part is the easy bit for me, I have a four-year-old girl so she is up early regularly. Instead of going to the gym at 4am I now go to the radio studio, which is probably much better for my health. And when my daughter goes to bed at 8:30pm I’m not far behind her.”

Being from Western Sydney and growing up a fan of the NRL and the Western Suburbs Magpies, Clarke said that one of the draws of the new job was getting to work with Laurie Daley.

“Loz was an idol of mine as a kid, and you see and hear so many stories about people meeting their idols and being disappointed, but I can tell you that I was the exact opposite. Loz was everything I expected, he is such a great man and I love spending time with him on or off-air.”

Clarke said that he is loving the breakfast morning lifestyle that lets him balance his non-media ventures and also spend a lot of time with his daughter. He says he is undecided if he will be a regular face on cricket commentary, but is hoping to do both if his schedule permits.

The Big Sports Breakfast airs weekdays from 5.30am to 9am on Sky Sports Radio (1017am) and can also be heard via the TAB App.

beyond management
Seven shrinks debt pile as Beyond takes over production businesses

Beyond International has expanded its international production capabilities to the UK by acquiring Seven Studios UK from Seven West Media. The selloff is the latest move from Seven that further reduces its debt.

The acquisition was facilitated through Beyond Entertainment Ltd, the company’s wholly-owned Irish subsidiary.

Beyond has also acquired the remaining 50.98% of the share capital of 7Beyond Media Rights Limited that it did not previously own from Seven Network, giving it 100% ownership of 7Beyond.

Both businesses will eventually be re-branded as Beyond Productions and will report into John Luscombe (pictured: right), Beyond Productions’ GM and EVP.

Mikael Borglund (pictured: left), CEO and MD of Beyond International, commented: “This is an exciting time for Beyond. We have already expanded our distribution business this year with the acquisition of TCB Media Rights and its extensive catalogue, and now we are adding to and strengthening our production capabilities in two of the world’s creative centres.

“We have an excellent relationship with Seven going back to 1984 with the production of the long-running science/technology series Beyond 2000 for the Network. We are pleased to be able to conclude these transactions with Seven which enables Beyond to enter the UK market with an established production company and respected team, and to expand our production capacity in the United States.”

Seven West Media CEO James Warburton said of the divestment: “As part of our ongoing transformation, we’ve reassessed our appetite for investment in offshore production interests and have elected to divest Seven Studios UK and our interest in the 7Beyond JV. Our longstanding relationship with Beyond International makes them a natural partner to acquire these assets. As part of the divestment, Seven will retain a participation in current projects, as well as all onshore production interests. Seven is proud of these two businesses and the projects that came out of them and welcomes the strengthened business arrangement that will continue with Beyond in the future.”

SSUK, headed by Damon Pattison, is currently producing an 8 x 60’ primetime series of Pooch Perfect for BBC One. The format, which was created by the SSUK team, has already been produced for the Seven Network in Australia, with other versions in advanced development. The SSUK team was also recently commissioned to film a two-part pilot series of My Lottery Dream Home International, a 7Beyond original format, for HGTV (USA).

John Luscombe, Beyond Productions GM and EVP said: “We are excited to expand our current creative relationship with Damon and his team and look forward to developing fresh entertainment and factual content for both UK and global markets. With TCB’s strong producer relationships in the UK and this latest acquisition of SSUK, we are now in an enviable position to not only grow our business in Europe but also to increase the depth of our current development and production capacity based in the US and Australia. Having three strong Beyond hubs will also allow us to expedite productions and share resources as Covid restrictions start to ease in different locations.”

Damon Pattison added: “Getting primetime commissions for Pooch Perfect in both the UK and Australia, with other territories pending, is proof positive that our company can deliver on a scale that belies its size. I’m delighted that Nikki Pinkus (head of development) and Claire Browne (head of production) will continue with me to build upon an incredible first year and we all thoroughly look forward to joining the growing Beyond Productions business.”

Beyond has acquired international format and finished programme distribution rights for Pooch Perfect, including the UK and Australian produced versions of the program.

The 7Beyond Los Angeles-based joint venture, established in November 2013, is currently in production on series 11 of its breakout hit My Lottery Dream Home for HGTV. Other credits include Tiny Food Fight (Facebook Watch), Holiday Gingerbread Showdown (Food Network) and Hip Hop Houdini (Fuse). The 7Beyond team will join forces with Beyond’s existing LA-based production unit and, following a re-brand to Beyond Productions, it will be business as usual on its large slate of pilots in production and programs in advanced stages of development.

In the US, Beyond already has a 30-year plus production record of non-scripted content which includes MythBusters (Discovery), Deadly Women (ID), Curse of Akakor (Facebook Watch), and White Rabbit Project (Netflix).  

Beyond Productions was established in Australia in 1984 and has produced in excess of 5000 hours of global television programming, including major long-running non-scripted hits such as MythBusters, Love It or List It Australia, Deadly Women, and Selling Houses Australia.

Beyond is also known for scripted titles such as Pulse for the ABC, and Halifax Retribution, produced for Nine Network and starring Rebecca Gibney and Anthony La Paglia, as well as for its children’s content which includes the award-winning Beat Bugs and Motown Magic for Netflix.

Liz Hayes
Nine’s Liz Hayes signs with Michael Cassel management stable

Liz Hayes, one of Australia’s most respected broadcast journalists, has appointed Michael Cassel Group, a global leader in live entertainment, as her exclusive management representative.

Hayes joins the company’s boutique high profile roster of clients including Julia Gillard and Sebastian Coe.

The appointment comes as Hayes is due to celebrate 40 years working as a reporter and presenter for Nine Entertainment. Since 1996, Hayes has been a senior correspondent for 60 Minutes in Australia.

“Liz has been the face and voice of so many important Australian and international stories over the past 40 years. Liz has a formidable reputation and I am delighted to be working together” commented Michael Cassel, CEO.

For all of her working life Liz Hayes has been a journalist.

Her career has traversed the wide landscape of media including newspapers and radio but predominantly, television.

For 10 years she was co-host of the Australian national breakfast program, Today, and hosted special event telecasts including the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.

Hayes is now a senior correspondent with Nine’s 60 Minutes television program, a position she’s held since 1996.

She has interviewed world leaders in business, sport, entertainment and politics, and covered a diverse range of stories including US presidential elections; the human horror of the Syrian refugee crisis; the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan; America’s nuclear conflict with North Korea and the aviation crisis involving Boeing’s disastrous aircraft, the 737 Max.

A long list of celebrity interviews includes Hollywood actors George Clooney and Dustin Hoffman, tennis great Roger Federer and world surfing champion Tom Carroll, singer Olivia Newton-John who talked of her battle with stage 4 cancer, Billy Joel and Paul McCartney.

Hayes produced and presented an award-winning documentary The Greatest Gift, telling the story of heart transplant patients, as well as a two and a half hour television special on Sydney’s Lindt Café siege, in which eight of the hostages spoke exclusively of their terror the day they were held for 17 hours by a lone gunman.

In 2021, Hayes will have spent 40 years working as a reporter and presenter for Nine Entertainment.

The Heights
Mercado on TV: The Beatles, The Heights, Pauline, Eurovision & Hamilton

By Andrew Mercado

What a joy it is to see One Night Only: The Beatles in Oz – Live and Remastered (Monday on Nine). Their performance at Melbourne’s Festival Hall went for just 20 minutes, but this historic event is as compelling today as it was in 1964.

Host David Campbell screens some great unseen footage of the incredible response The Beatles got all over Australia. The concert footage is basic, but the boys’ harmonies have never sounded better. Throw in some ads from the era, and socially distanced boomers reminiscing, and this is a must-see.

The Beatles

Nine will replay this forever, and that’s OK if it means we can have break from those Queen concert docos. Maybe some time, Nine can colourise The Beatles In Oz, just like the brilliant Australia In Colour (SBS) which is coming back in 2021 with a second series.

America In Colour: Hollywood’s Golden Age (Friday on SBS) includes footage tonight of the no-blacks premiere of Gone with the Wind in 1939. This week on Q+A, Christopher Pyne spent several minutes expressing disappointment that GWTW had been “cancelled”. Thank you Brooke Boney for correcting him, and well done to everyone who spread so much bullshit about this classic film being gone.

Perfect timing though to have Brooke Boney on Q+A given Pauline Hanson was booted from Today that morning after her vile comments about public housing. What a shame that Pauline would never watch The Heights (Thursday on ABC), the first Aussie public housing drama, because she would see how upsetting it is when residents are judged based on their address.

One beautiful moment in The Heights has always stood out for me. Kam (Yazeed Daher) sleeps on the couch in a cramped unit with five other Jafari family members. It’s so noisy, he has to sit outside in the hallway to do his homework. It leads to Iris (Carina Hoang) clearing some study space in the back of her corner shop, because she knows he’s smart and needs a break.

The Brits are loving The Heights too. Since premiering on the BBC a few weeks ago, it has averaged 1.3 million viewers, which is more than The Doctor Blake Mysteries got in the same timeslot. The UK press are impressed too, with The Times declaring it “hot” and The Guardian calling it “enthralling”. That’s because it is, get on board.

Hamilton (Disney+) and Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (Netflix) are two of the best things to stream right now. Alan Jones loves a musical, but he’s too busy, given the demands of his staggeringly original and wildly unpredictable TV show (weeknights on Sky) about coal, coronavirus and commercial breaks.

Coming back from one, Alan was hugely amused: “Isn’t it funny when people say ‘Welcome Back’ when in fact, I know you’ve gone nowhere, you’ve just listened to the break.” Aussie comedy might not be dead, but Alan’s audience could be.

TV Ratings Thursday, July 9, Week 28, 2020

By James Manning

• Seven wins first night of the week as Cats defeat Lions
• Nine holds first spot in Sydney and Brisbane as Roosters win
• War of the Worlds launch sets new Thursday 2020 high for SBS

Seven News 1,178,000/1,128,000
Nine News 1,020,000/938,000
ABC News 783,000
A Current Affair 692,000
7.30 562,000
The Project 341,000/508,000
10 News 430,000/276,000
Sunrise 274,000
The Latest 241,000
The Drum 234,000
News Breakfast 220,000
Today 209,000
SBS World News 184,000

Thursday TV

Seven: Home and Away’s week went from 639,000 to 669,000 to 642,000 across the first three nights and has ended with Thursday on 584,000 with no Adelaide numbers because of the AFL.
The football then had a metro audience of 581,000 with 360,000 in Melbourne as Geelong defeated Brisbane. The Brisbane loss didn’t help the Brisbane numbers, they were up to 53,000, but still behind the NRL on 103,000 in that market.

Nine: A Current Affair has had two episodes close to 800,000 to start the week and the next two hovered around 700,000 after 692,000 last night.
The Roosters easily overcame the Cowboys in Thursday night NRL with 314,000 watching. The Sydney audience was 194,000 with 103,000 in Brisbane. That result was enough to keep Nine #1 in those metro markets.

10: The Project was back over half a million, but only just with 508,000.
Celebrity Gogglebox was on 328,000 after 352,000 a week ago.
An NCIS repeat at 7.30pm on 191,000 narrowly had a bigger audience than Law & Order: SVU on the primary channel at 8.30pm with 183,000.

ABC: The Heights did 212,000 followed by Escape from the City trying to find a good property in Broome.

SBS: Flinders Street Station in Melbourne was the setting for World’s Busiest Stations episode three with 266,000 watching.
War of the Worlds then launched with two episodes and an average audience of 303,000.The programming combo gave SBS its best Thursday share of the year and one of its biggest shares on any night in 2020.

Week 28 TV: Thursday
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 10.4% 7 22.5% 9 17.3% 10  8.9% SBS One 7.7%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.5% 7TWO 4.4% GO! 1.6% 10 Bold 4.3% VICELAND 1.2%
ABC ME 0.7% 7mate 5.1% GEM 1.6% 10 Peach 2.4% Food Net 1.0%
ABC NEWS 1.9% 7flix 1.7% 9Life 2.1%     NITV 0.1%
        9Rush 1.4%     SBS World Movies 1.0%
TOTAL 15.5%   33.7%   24.1%   15.6%   11.0%


ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 9.8% 7 19.3% 9 17.3% WIN 8.3% SBS One 6.4%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.6% 7TWO 5.7% GO! 2.1% WIN Bold 5.0% VICELAND 1.5%
ABC ME 1.0% 7mate 5.1% GEM 2.9% WIN Peach 2.8% Food Net 0.9%
ABC NEWS 1.5% 7flix (Excl. Tas/WA) 2.4% 9Life 2.5% Sky News  on WIN 2.3% NITV 0.3%
                SBS Movies 0.8%
TOTAL 14.9%   32.6%   24.9%   18.4%   10.0%


84.5% 15.5%
  1. Seven News Seven 1,178,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 1,128,000
  3. Nine News Nine 1,020,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 938,000
  5. ABC News ABC 783,000
  6. A Current Affair Nine 692,000
  7. The Chase Australia Seven 664,000
  8. Home And Away Seven 584,000
  9. Seven’s AFL: Thursday Night Football Seven 581,000
  10. 7.30 ABC 562,000
  11. Hot Seat Nine 546,000
  12. The Project 7pm 10 508,000
  13. 10 News First 10 430,000
  14. The Chase Australia-5pm Seven 405,000
  15. Hot Seat -5pm Nine 346,000
  16. The Project 6.30pm 10 341,000
  17. Seven’s AFL: Thursday Night Football – Pre Match Seven 331,000
  18. Celebrity Gogglebox USA 10 328,000
  19. Escape From The City ABC 317,000
  20. War Of The Worlds (Drama) SBS 303,000
Demo Top 5

16-39 Top Five

  1. Seven’s AFL: Thursday Night Football Seven 141,000
  2. Seven News Seven 131,000
  3. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 128,000
  4. Nine News Nine 123,000
  5. The Project 7pm 10 119,000


18-49 Top Five

  1. Seven News Seven 263,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 259,000
  3. Nine News Nine 234,000
  4. Seven’s AFL: Thursday Night Football Seven 232,000
  5. The Project 7pm 10 226,000


25-54 Top Five

  1. Seven News Seven 340,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 326,000
  3. Nine News Nine 318,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 286,000
  5. The Project 7pm 10 264,000
THURSDAY Multichannel
  1. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 191,000
  2. Father Brown PM 7TWO 185,000
  3. Murdoch Mysteries PM 7TWO 155,000
  4. Bluey AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 150,000
  5. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 142,000
  6. Seven’s AFL: Thursday Night Football 7mate 138,000
  7. Hawaii Five-O 10 Bold 138,000
  8. Rusty Rivets ABCKIDS/COMEDY 130,000
  9. Kiri And Lou ABCKIDS/COMEDY 128,000
  10. Dino Dana ABCKIDS/COMEDY 127,000
  11. Andy’s Safari Adventures ABCKIDS/COMEDY 122,000
  12. Neighbours 10 Peach 122,000
  13. Hawaii Five-O (R) 10 Bold 120,000
  14. Peppa Pig AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 120,000
  15. Play School AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 118,000
  16. ABC News Hour PM ABC NEWS 117,000
  17. Little J And Big Cuz AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 116,000
  18. ABC News At Noon PM ABC NEWS 114,000
  19. Spicks And Specks ABCKIDS/COMEDY 113,000
  20. Murdoch Mysteries-Ep.2 Pm 7TWO 113,000
  1. Live: AFL Geelong V Brisbane FOX FOOTY 216,000
  2. Live: NRL: Cowboys V Roosters FOX LEAGUE 203,000
  3. Live: AFL Post Game Thursday FOX FOOTY 131,000
  4. Aussie Gold Hunters Discovery Channel 89,000
  5. Live: The Late Show With Matty Johns FOX LEAGUE 79,000
  6. The Bolt Report Sky News Live 78,000
  7. Credlin Sky News Live 70,000
  8. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 66,000
  9. Live: AFL Pre Game Thursday FOX FOOTY 64,000
  10. Alan Jones Sky News Live 57,000
  11. Live: NRL Pre Game Thursday FOX LEAGUE 52,000
  12. Live: First Crack FOX FOOTY 49,000
  13. The Kenny Report Sky News Live 47,000
  14. PML Later Sky News Live 45,000
  15. Afternoon Agenda Sky News Live 44,000
  16. Selling Houses Australia Lifestyle Channel 39,000
  17. Jeopardy! FOX Classics 38,000
  18. Gold Rush: Dave Turin’s Lost Mine Discovery Channel 37,000
  19. NCIS: Los Angeles FOX Crime 35,000
  20. Afternoon Agenda Sky News Live 33,000

Shares all people, 6pm-midnight, Overnight (Live and AsLive), Audience numbers FTA metro, Sub TV national
Source: OzTAM and Regional TAM 2018. The Data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) without the prior written consent of OzTAM

Media News Roundup

Business of Media

Nine Entertainment CFO Paul Koppelman departs after 11 months

Nine Entertainment has announced that CFO Paul Koppelman has resigned for personal reasons including the recent death of a family member. The resignation is effective immediately. Graeme Cassells, currently group financial controller, will take on the role of acting CFO.

Paul Koppelman departs Nine after just 11 months in the role.

Chief executive Hugh Marks told Nine staff this morning Paul had asked him to share his reasons for departing with you saying: “My decision to stand down from my role at Nine is a deeply personal one and a time when I have had to put my family before my career. My wife suffered the loss of her much loved mother recently and she and my children need my total focus and love at this time, as we in Melbourne go back into severe COVID restrictions. These restrictions also meant I would be unable to attend results presentations and so the timing was made easier for us all.

“I have loved my time at Nine and it is a business I will continue to follow and enjoy from the outside, I wish Hugh and the team all the best and much success.”

Marks added: “We are sad to see Paul go but understand that he needs to put his family first. I want to take this opportunity to thank Paul for his contribution and support during his time with Nine and we have great confidence in Graeme stepping into the role as acting CFO.”

Nine will be releasing its FY20 result on 27 August. Subject to completion and auditing, at this stage, Nine is expecting to report Group EBITDA (pre Specific Items and post AASB16) in the range of $390m-$410m for its continuing businesses. Wholly owned net debt at 30 June, 2020 is expected to be c$300m.

Seven shrinks debt pile as Beyond takes over UK production business

Beyond International has expanded its international production capabilities to the UK by acquiring Seven Studios UK from Seven West Media. The selloff is the latest move from Seven that further reduces its debt.

The acquisition was facilitated through Beyond Entertainment Ltd, the company’s wholly-owned Irish subsidiary.

Beyond has also acquired the remaining 50.98% of the share capital of 7Beyond Media Rights Limited that it did not previously own from Seven Network, giving it 100% ownership of 7Beyond.

Both businesses will eventually be re-branded as Beyond Productions and will report into John Luscombe, Beyond Productions’ GM and EVP.

See also separate feature item today.


Perth radio duo celebrate a year since breakfast show relaunch

96FM’s Fred Botica and Lisa Shaw have celebrated the first anniversary of their return to Perth radio this week. The celebration was spurred on by regular contributor and former Fremantle Docker Matthew Pavlich who arrived in the studio with a bottle of champagne and three glasses.

The breakfast show Botica’s Bunch returned to Perth radio in July 2019 after new managing director Gary Roberts arrived at the station and convinced the team to reunite at the ARN-owned station.

“It’s been a year since you returned to radio after four long years apart,” said Pavlich. Pavlich then asked Lisa what it was like being back together as he popped the cork on the Perth breakfast show. “It’s great,” said Lisa as she dodged the cork flying across the studio.

Botica and Shaw have been on-air together since 1997, having earned their place as the most successful breakfast team in Perth radio history, together winning a record 100+ consecutive surveys in Perth.

Botica began his Perth radio career in 1986 to work with 96FM and Channel 7 Perth as their voiceover artist, and as the voice of the 96FM Skyshow in its bicentennial year.

Botica went on to lead Mix 94.5’s breakfast team to become Perth’s highest rating breakfast show with Botica’s Bunch, which he co-hosted with Shaw from the late 90s.

See also: 96FM back in the game: Gary Roberts shaking up Perth Radio


Nicole Kidman and cast to quarantine here for new Liane Moriarty series

Welsh actor Luke Evans has revealed details of Hulu’s quarantine plans for the Australia shoot of limited series Nine Perfect Strangers, reports Variety.

“We all have to be quarantined in a hotel room,” said Evans in an interview for the July 14 episode of the Variety and iHeart podcast The Big Ticket.

“I can’t see anyone for two weeks. I have to be tested every other day. Everything is going to be delivered to my room and I have to stay in a room in Australia and not leave it for two weeks just so that we can then be free to go and shoot something,” said Evans.

According to COVID-safe guidelines published by the Australian Screen Production Industry, all arrivals in Australia are required to isolate in mandatory quarantine accommodation for 14 days, in the city of arrival. Regular testing is also advised both prior to and during the shoot.

Nine Perfect Strangers is based on the eponymous book by Big Little Lies author Liane Moriarty. It takes place at a boutique health and wellness resort that promises healing and transformation as nine stressed city dwellers try to get on a path to a better way of living. But they have no idea what is about to hit them.

The cast also includes Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy and Manny Jacinto.

Kidman will executive produce in addition to starring, with Big Little Lies executive producer Bruna Papandrea and David E. Kelley. John Henry Butterworth and Kelley will also serve as co-writers and co-showrunners. Nine Perfect Strangers is produced by Made Up Stories and Kidman’s Blossom Films, with Endeavor also producing.

[Read more]

Netflix’s The Crown to run for six seasons after creator changes mind

Peter Morgan has changed his mind on bringing the curtain down on The Crown after five seasons, meaning that the Netflix show will now run for six seasons, reports Deadline.

Creator Morgan said: “As we started to discuss the storylines for Series 5, it soon became clear that in order to do justice to the richness and complexity of the story we should go back to the original plan and do six seasons. To be clear, Series 6 will not bring us any closer to present-day — it will simply enable us to cover the same period in greater detail.”

The change of heart comes just six months after Netflix announced that Season 5 will be the last. It means that the new Queen Elizabeth II, Imelda Staunton, will follow her predecessors in filming two series — as will Lesley Manville, who was last week confirmed as Princess Margaret.

Sources always said that Morgan would write six seasons, and this idea was further cemented when he signed an overall deal with Netflix last year. Furthermore, six seasons has long been Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos’ ambition for the Left Bank Pictures show.

[Read more]

Sports Media

IOC told only vaccine can save Tokyo 2021 as 12-month countdown nears

The International Olympic Committee is preparing to mark the 12-month countdown to a rescheduled Tokyo Games in the face of an escalating global coronavirus crisis, at the head of which is Olympic powerhouse and COVID-19 basket case the United States, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Phil Luton.

In a landmark decision in late March, the IOC postponed the Games for a year as lockdowns gripped competing nations, meaning athletes had little chance to train or prepare to compete on the grandest of stages.

While some nations have effectively dealt with the contagion, worldwide infections have only soared, leaving the IOC, Tokyo organisers and hopeful athletes in a nightmare scenario given the time invested and billions already spent on preparing the Japanese capital for the world’s biggest sporting event.

The IOC has already said another postponement would result in a cancellation, while leading Australian-based experts have said the only feasible way for the Games to be held on schedule would be contingent on the development and release of a vaccine.

[Read more]

NSW grants exemption to Vic teams as A-League chief faces uncertain future

Greg O’Rourke has accepted he faces an uncertain future as the head of the A-League after overseeing the bungled attempt to bring three Victorian clubs to NSW before the closure of the state borders and rejecting a request from one club to relocate last week report Dominic Bossi and Vince Rugari.

The A-League season will, however, be completed, with Football Federation Australia sources confirming to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that Melbourne Victory, Melbourne City and Western United received official travel exemptions from the NSW government late on Thursday – enabling them to fly to Sydney once players and staff all return negative tests for COVID-19.

The last 27 games of the home-and-away season and the finals series will now certainly be played, although the planned fixture list is likely to be reijigged significantly.

It brings to a close an unedifying few days for the A-League, which was left embarrassed after failing to get the three clubs out of Victoria in time before the border to NSW was closed – even though the NRL, AFL, rugby union and even the V8 Supercars managed to move their teams without fuss.

With the exemption now granted, the three Victorian teams can travel to Sydney on Saturday, but will have to first undergo 14 days isolation in Sydney before playing any games. They will be able to train during that time.

[Read more]

'Second-rate event': V'landys unmoved by prospect of Sydney AFL grand final

Peter V’landys has welcomed the prospect of an AFL grand final in Sydney, cheekily suggesting the “best city in the world” has plenty of room for more “second-rate events”, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Vince Rugari.

The ARLC chairman was responding to remarks from Collingwood president Eddie McGuire, who said it would be V’landys’ “worst nightmare” if the AFL’s showpiece was moved into rugby league heartland.

With the MCG unlikely to be in a position to host a large crowd by the end of October, the state governments in NSW, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia have all expressed an interest in hosting the grand final, with debate raging in the AFL industry as to where it should go.

Speaking on Footy Classified, McGuire said an attendance of 75,000 at ANZ Stadium could bring in as much as $50 million for the AFL and described the league as the “talk of the town” in NSW and Queensland, which are currently hosting the 10 Victorian teams in hubs.

V’landys said McGuire was “just playing friendly rivalry” and that ongoing competition between the AFL and NRL would make both sports perform better.

“Him putting a couple of little jabs in… they’re only just minor jabs, we will look for the knockout punch,” V’landys told the Herald.

“I think the AFL is very, very fortunate to have someone like Eddie McGuire. He’s a personality. He has the sport in the headlines at all times.

“I love the way he tries to get under our skin, and I wish we had someone of a similar stature in rugby league. I don’t think the AFL people appreciate him as much as he should be because he’s always prepared to go out on a limb – you don’t have to agree or disagree with him but he’s certainly good for their sport.”

[Read more]

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