“The grown-ups have gone home and they’ve left us the keys to the building,” Hamish Macdonald told viewers last night as TEN relaunched TEN Late News.
No longer a Sandra Sully-Brad McEwan combo, late night news is now the domain of TEN’s go-to investigative journo.
Macdonald opened the show perched on the end of the newsdesk, sporting red jeans and inexplicably cleanshaven. The set was equally perched in the middle of TEN’s Pyrmont HQ, deconstructed with a blinking cityskape backdrop.
But if you can’t have Sully, Macdonald is a good replacement. Last night he was confident and friendly, and will be even better when he relaxes into a mood befitting of the timeslot.
He was also stronger than the editorial that surrounded him in the first episode.
Hermoine Kitson played the straight newsreader at the top of the bulletin, with a Live cross to correspondent Brett Mason in London.
He told us Governor General Quentin Bryce had been meeting surf lifesavers, while at the same time we saw vision of her with Prince Phillip and Camilla. Maybe he’s been moonlighting.
There were also reports on the PM and Tony Abbott lighting a Diamond Jubilee flame in Canberra (it had been live on ABC News 24 earlier), tourism ads being made for China and a fluffy story about swans crossing the road in Canberra, which had been captured by a TEN crew. Not sure why….
Macdonald took charge with stories on the financial bloodbath of Monday, first with a chat to Eddie Meyer, then a pre-recorded interview with Pauline Chiou from CNN in Hong Kong and a Live chat with Scott Pape aka the Barefoot Investor.
Kitson introduced footage just in of the partial lunar eclipse before Macdonald’s feature story on foreign workers being allowed to work on mines in Australia.
Max Futcher introduced his story on Queensland mining before Macdonald interviewed Labor Senator Doug Cameron.
Predictably, Cameron defended the government’s decision to allow 1700 migrant workers to work on the mines.
Macdonald was keen, too keen, to land a punch -raising questions about fairness for Aussie workers and why Labor approved the deal.
“But it’s the prime minister’s fault?,” Macdonald pushed. “You acknowledge it is her fault?”
But he did reference the scoop broken last night by the ABC, questioning Cameron about a Four Corners investigation into people smugglers residing in Canberra. Points for playing fair. It’s just a shame that it was TEN that had hoped to set the agenda for the next day with its new show, when the ABC arguably has.
Brad McEwan also made a late night return with Sports Tonight, before Kitson gave us headlines again, weather and an ad with a corgi from Britain.
The last guest was Christiaan Van Vurren from the Bondi Hipsters whose videos have been a YouTube hit. McEwan asked him if red jeans were cool.
There was a cross to Breakfast (in the same building) to tease about tomorrow morning’s show, before a recommendation of hot links that didn’t work due to technical problems.
“Can I just say I got through the whole show without just calling you Sandra?” joked McEwan.
The show ended with a clip of the Diamond Jubilee song written by Gary Barlow.
The overall feel of the show was not dissimilar to The Project, a mix of live interviews, news and packages from reporters. The content on the first night weighed in with dry news about shares, stocks, and politics, which felt at odds with the introductory tease that “the grown-ups have gone home.” The reports were mostly formal and would arguably have fit TEN’s Morning or 5pm News. They don’t yet fulfil the the show’s more informal ambitions.
There are elements here that show promise but they need to be taken further, preferably straying away from a formal news show without treading on the toes of The Project. But first the show needs to decide if its News or Anti-News.
It’s early days. Hopefully the bosses will allow Macdonald time to find his feet. And his stubble.
TEN Late News airs 10:30pm (or thereabouts) on TEN.