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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Channel Nine gambles on Mark Latham

It was auspicious that I wrote about the ABC's Q and A panel show yesterday because news came out on the same day that Mark Latham - former Labor Party head and current skulldugger - will front up in a new Channel Nine chat vehicle to be hosted by bland corporate suit Karl Stefanovic.

Latham has a reputation part-way toward equaling in its verbal excesses that of Australia's other big Labor grandee, Paul Keating, but Latham tends more toward the scatological. He's less flute of Tattinger bubbly and more schooner of Tooheys New. He's less ornate and more earthy. But still good for a laugh, which is what Nine is betting on.

The ABC has form in this regard, of course. They tend to try new formats and give them a good, solid run regardless of audience take-up, which differs markedly from the way things are run in commercial stations, where new offerings have to pass audience approvals on a regular basis, especially at the beginning of their showings. If it won't serve up the bucks immediately, then kill it. So the ABC tends to be Australia's ideas lab when it comes to TV. The names Will Anderson and Dave Hughes and The Chaser come to mind; solid careers built in the lap of Aunty. Once upon a time kids with potential, now guaranteed money-spinners.

As for Latham, he's been building his rep in the media for a while. He's not shy and he's no shrinking violet. He's a bit like Donald Trump in the way he says things publicly that others might find a bit on-the-nose, even though the less sympathetic of them might be thinking exactly the same thing. But Latham is also a bit suss, especially in regards to the much-talked-about @RealMarkLatham Twitter account, which he is mooted to be behind, and what it has been publishing of late. In the end though for Nine these things are just sauce. What counts are ratings. They're hoping for a Zachy Mallah ep every night with the new show, you can bet on it. With Latham on-board, they might just be on the money.

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