When The Morning Show launched on Seven in June 2007 Larry Emdur fully expected the show to have a short run.
After all he’d done plenty of shows that were short-lived in the cut-throat biz of television.
“I just remember feeling terribly intimidated in the lead-up to it,” he reflects.
“I was told it would be an experiment for 3- 6 months.
“Kylie and I had done a test or two in the weeks leading up to it. We got on well –what’s not to love about Kylie? And that was it.
“There was a race to get it on air, but it just happened. From Day 1 it’s been smooth sailing.”
“Ten years in TV is phenomenal!”
Indeed the pairing of the former game show host and the journalist was a masterstroke by Sunrise producer Adam Boland. Against Mornings with Kerri-Anne and 9am with David and Kim the show hit #1 on its first day and has never looked back.
It wasn’t until 2012 it lost its first day, and not until 2016 when it lost the first week. By any timeslot measure it’s an incredible run. As the show turns 10, it is still on top.
“Both Kylie and I feel so blessed that from Day 1 more Australians have watched us week to week than any of the others that have come and gone.
“It’s a long, long time in television and I know that because some of the shows I’ve done have lasted a week or a month. Ten years in TV is phenomenal!
“(Adam) was the one who launched it and put it together, but it’s had many incarnations since then. Sarah Stinson who is in charge now does an incredible job. The show has evolved so much, to Sarah’s credit, keeping it Live.”
Variety is the spice of life for Emdur, who describes the show as “a pizza with everything.”
“If you want your Celebrity news you’re going to get it, if you want hard news you will get it, Entertainment, Hollywood Gossip –it’s everything. That’s what I love about it,” he explains.
“When I drive in here every day, I know that every show –and this is a big call, but it’s true- is completely different to the day before.
“It’s evolved so much over the years but the core values are the same: give people exactly what they want at that time of day. Our audience has been so faithful and kept us on top for 10 years and we’re so grateful.”
While the show has had plenty of celebrity guests and personal highlights, no retrospective can pass without acknowledging the show’s 2014 live reportage of the Lindt cafe siege, opposite Seven’s Martin Place studios.
“We both had to dig deep to our journalistic past. I was a reporter for 4 or 5 years before I started in the game show world, and Kylie has been a reporter for quite a while. So it was in our face. We were looking at the Lindt Café when people were being pressed up against the window. We could see Man Monis behind them,” Emdur recollects.
“Our whole building had been evacuated, and I was getting texts from a mate at New York airport who had seen all the monitors on CNN and FOX.
“My god we were in the middle of that.”
“We went home and called each other and said ‘My god we were in the middle of that.’ But we are both very mindful that the real story and the tragedy was happening on the other side of Martin Place. Not where we were.”
Emdur, 53, got his start in TV at Seven News including a shot at becoming the nation’s youngest news presenter.
“I started as a young guy in the newsroom and then they wanted to introduce 24 hour news,” he recalls. “So they asked around the newsroom, but everybody said ‘Bugger that, I’m not working overnight!’ I was a kid who loved surfing so I could go surfing all day and come in at night.
“So I now hold the title of the youngest national newsreader in Australia!
But news reporting had its tough side and Emdur was lured across to TEN.
“The seriousness of the news stories I was sent on was pretty horrible. At 17 or 18 you are doing death knocks on peoples’ door after their kid has been killed in a car accident. I still remember it to this day, it was gut wrenching stuff,” he continues.
“So I started to enjoy baby animal stories at the zoo, entertainment interviews. Channel TEN saw that and invited me to Good Morning Australia. They were fantastic days, big feature stories, travelling around the world.
“Around 1987 I was invited to do my first game show which was Family Double Dare –which was axed after the first episode!”
The primetime game show was part of US executive Bob Shank’s plan for the ailing TEN network.
“But it was a turning point for me. With the rehearsals, I thought ‘I like this. I like being on stage and having fun with an entertainment formula.’ Fortunately there were other people watching and I was invited to start trialling for game shows.”
Emdur returned to Seven for The Main Event, a primetime contender to 60 Minutes before enjoying a long run with The Price is Right with Nine -a show he remains inextricably linked to.
“I can’t get through the day without a dozen ‘Come On Downs’ or ‘Bring back Price’ wherever I go,” he laughs.
In 2012 Seven did just that, with a version that was regarded as “Price is Light” with trimmed-down showcases around $25,000.
“It was a different formula,” Emdur concedes. “When I left Channel Nine we were giving away business class trips to Disneyland, apartments at Coolongatta, two Alfa Romeos –we finished with the largest showcase ever at $770,000.
“When the new version came back we went particularly light on that.
“Price will be back again, with someone else hosting on any given channel. It’s such a fantastic formula and people love it.”
“We will never get to work on an animal like this again”
Remarkably, The Morning Show has allowed him to realise a Price opportunity in the US.
“When we were in LA I did a story on Behind the Scenes of The Price is Right. Drew Carey called me on stage to host a segment, and no American had ever done that in the history of the show. So that was a personal thrill.
“I think Kylie and I are both of the opinion that we will never get to work on an animal like this again in our careers, when you have 10 years at the top.”
For their 10th anniversary The Morning Show will look back on its decade of success, bloopers and fashions which Emdur describes as “horrifying, embarrassing and humiliating.”
“I can’t wait to look back at our first day again. I know I had fabulous hair and Kylie has changed the brand of her spray tan,” he jokes.
“A great amount of heart goes into the show each and every day with a great team. So can I keep driving in here and putting on a nice shirt and jacket every day for another few years? Absolutely.”
The Morning Show airs 9am weekdays on Seven, with highlights 10am weekends.