When he co-hosts New Year’s Eve on Saturday night, ABC’s Jeremy Fernandez will most likely be before his biggest ever audience.
At 1.42m viewers last NYE, the event was ABC’s biggest crowd all year. That’s not counting regional viewers, or those gathered in public venues.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve actually not been to the fireworks that close before, I’ve normally watched from a distance. So it’s a real privilege,” Fernandez told TV Tonight.
“The reason we come together to celebrate is because you’ve either had a good year or a terrible year and either way we’re happy to see the back of it and kick off a new one. That sentiment and mood really carries through the night.
“Usually it’s a quiet night for me. Dinner, a few drinks and watching the fireworks from someone’s balcony like a lot of Sydney-siders do. Many years ago I used to go down to the foreshore in Perth, where I grew up. I used to camp out from 4 or 5am, and make a whole day of it. But I don’t have that in me anymore! So this is the next best thing.”
“I think we will balance each other well”
Singer Ella Hooper is back for her second co-hosting event, with Fernandez outside the Sydney Opera House and inside the Lord Mayor’s Party at Bennelong Point.
“When we met it struck me how different we are in many ways. She’s such a lively, happy-go-lucky character and I’m far more pensive! But I think we will balance each other well,” he continued.
We’re the central point for the broadcast, tieing down a whole bunch of other live elements, music, comedy and children’s entertainment. They’re the big things we’ll be throwing to.”
Coverage from 8:30pm will include Children’s entertainment from Play School, Little Lunch, Giggle & Hoot, Justine Clarke, The Wiggles, Dan Sultan and Bananas in Pajamas plus the Family Fireworks (9pm), The 2016 Pub Quiz hosted by Lawrence Mooney, specials from David Stratton, The Katering Show’s Kates and Sammy J, live crosses to The Falls Festival in Lorne and The Hoodoo Gurus at the Lord Mayor’s party.
This year’s fireworks will also be seen in HD for the first time.
“I’ve been getting a lot of requests for help from people tuning their TVs!” Fernandez joked.
“Watching from different angles, in the air, on the foreshore, and cameras dotted all over the place, you get a much fuller-view and broader perspective, compared to sitting right under the fireworks.”
“Technically speaking it is incredibly complex.”
But with a centrepiece like New Year’s Eve there is also added pressure. Previous broadcasts have been subject to gnarly social media comments.
“One of the things about TV is that regardless of how many people you are broadcasting to it feels like a very intimate setting when you’re in front of the camera. It’s just a few people putting you to air, so I think sometimes the scale of the broadcast doesn’t quite hit you until well after you’ve come off air,” he explained.
“I can just about guarantee we are going to have minor things going wrong on the night. That’s the nature of Live television. Sometimes things are obvious and sometimes they’re not.
“With my news bulletins I go back and watch the things that did and didn’t work and (learn) how we can mould the production even better for the next year.
“I also think there are some things we need to try and keep in mind about the nature of the broadcast. It’s a long broadcast and there are a lot of people involved. Technically speaking it is incredibly complex -an outside broadcast, let alone the amount of feeds that are coming in from elsewhere. There’s no doubt it’s a complicated broadcast.
“I think most of our audience accepts that occasionally things will not quite go the way we planned but we’ll try our best to deal with that as it comes up.”
“I’m an ABC News go-to guy!”
Malaysian-born Fernandez has lived and worked in Perth, Albany, Melbourne, London and Sydney, which he now calls home. When he isn’t presenting Sydney’s fireworks he can be found across News 24 and Sydney’s 7pm bulletin -wherever the news brand needs him.
“I’m an ABC News go-to guy!” he laughed.
“There is less and less differentiation of ABC News, across different platforms. I work in News on the various platforms whether News 24, 7pm, online, live stream or whatever.”
But as he is approaching his 17th year -off and on- with the broadcaster, nothing will come close to the sheer scale of the Live New Year’s Eve event. Fernandez is ready for the challenge.
“It feels like a high-stakes environment, where you want the night to be perfect, whether you’re celebrating at home or at a party, or home by yourself,” he said.
“All the hopes and expectations of a new year and the reflections of the previous year culminate in a sensitive time for a lot of us. That’s something we’ll try to be mindful of in the broadcast as well –to reflect the full range of emotion that’s gone with 2016.”
New Year’s Eve 2016 begins 8:35pm Saturday on ABC.