Exclusive: ABC series Can We Help? might be in need of a little help of its own following confirmation it is undergoing significant format changes in 2010.
The light entertainment series, which answers general knowledge questions and arranges reunions from viewer enquiries, will no longer be filmed in studio.
Host Peter Rowsthorn told TV Tonight he expected to instead be filming links to stories.
“They’re taking it out of the studio next year, so they’re changing the format,” he said. “I’ll be doing all the links. There’ll be in no more chats in between stories.”
Rowsthorn, who has flown regularly to Perth for the studio records, wasn’t sure where he would host Series 5 from.
“It’ll be me somewhere, probably Melbourne.”
Panellist Kate Burridge remains with her ‘Word Wise’ segment but the third team member, Geoff Hutchison has been let go.
“Geoff’s gone and Kate stays. Geoff was ‘expendable,’” says a disappointed Rowsthorn. “He would do voice-overs and a last little whisper in the chair. But they’ve eradicated that segment.”
Executive Producer Daniel Brown confirmed the ‘freshening’ of the show’s format, assuring TV Tonight that Perth will remain the base for production and editing.
“The new format will provide a behind the scenes look at where Can We Help? is produced and will be filmed around the country as has always been the case, including Perth,” he said.
“Pete Rowsthorn remains host of the program and will continue with his popular ‘Pete Investigates’ segment. We are also looking at introducing some new experts for the ‘Ask the Expert’ segment.
“Kate Burridge will continue with her ‘Word Wise’ segment, however, Geoff Hutchison leaves Can We Help? at the conclusion of Series 4. There are some amazing reunion and ‘Help Wanted’ stories in production for 2010 and we are looking forward to an exciting new series.”
But in another change to the show’s future, Brown has himself resigned from the series, departing in 4 week’s time. His replacement is yet to be appointed.
ABC has already discontinued 2 other shows this year in The Einstein Factor and Sunday Arts. Its Perth base currently produces Rollercoaster, Stateline, ABC News, Hopman Cup, WAFL, Festival of Lessons and Carols, Anzac Day coverage as well as producing segments for other ABC programs.
Rowsthorn, who said he loved the non-show biz flavour of the humble series, struggled to find reasons behind the changes.
“I don’t know,” he said. “ABC changing hands, people in different spots who want to alter things all the time.
“I don’t know what it will gain. I don’t think it will lose a lot but I don’t think it will gain, either.”
The show, which airs at 6:30pm each Friday night, last week had 401,000 viewers.
Its final episode in its current format airs this Friday.