Seven’s Sunday Night much-publicised $150,000 tell-all with Barnaby Joyce and Vikki Campion was beaten into second place in its timeslot by ABC’s Australian series Mystery Road.
Filmed at their regional home, the Joyce and Campion interview had an average audience of 631,000 in the five metropolitan markets.
It was a rise of over 200,000 on the previous week but still not enough to pip the 786,000 viewers drawn by the ABC drama starring Aaron Pedersen and Deborah Mailman.
“It was not bad, but not outstanding,” a Seven source told The New Daily of ratings for the big ticket, highly-publicised hour when Ms Campion “broke her silence” on her affair with the former deputy prime minister.
Meanwhile, as the dust still rises from the interview – with National Party and other politicians weighing in – the latest twist in the controversy that claimed Mr Joyce’s job involves his estranged wife Natalie Joyce.
Mrs Joyce, who married Barnaby in 1993, has reportedly been offered up to $500,000 to tell her side of the story about her husband’s affair with Ms Campion and the subsequent birth in April of their son Sebastian.
According to The Daily Mail, sources close to Mrs Joyce claim that “every media organisation in Australia has approached the mother-of-four for her story”, with offers totalling over half a million dollars.
“That’s how much we wanted her to appear on Sunday Night,” one TV source confirmed. “She’s the prize – not Vikki.”
One Seven executive was quoted as saying Mrs Joyce had been offered and turned down an “open chequebook” to confront her ex and Ms Campion.
But a TV insider who has worked as a political journalist for Nine and Seven told The New Daily: “The woman scorned is hot property but Barnaby and Vikki are still much hotter. Probably more scope for things to turn into a car crash.”
The insider said the reported $150,000 payment was “petty cash” for TV, and that Mr Joyce and Ms Campion could have negotiated harder, except “the problem is that they would have appeared massively greedy for wanting more.
“The public would understand Natalie getting more.”
Mr Joyce, 51, and Ms Campion, 33, insisted the fee they received for the interview had been put in a trust fund for Sebastian they cannot access.
A Seven spokesperson told The New Daily a new report in Woman’s Day claiming Ms Campion orchestrated the sale of the interview with Sunday Night “for months before it became public knowledge” was not true.
The magazine reported the former media adviser and journalist did the deal directly with reporter Alex Cullen, whose soft questions and familiar style during the sitdown drew criticism.
It also claimed Mr Joyce tried to broker a last-minute bigger deal with Nine rival 60 Minutes, which the Seven spokesperson also denied.
Mrs Joyce hasn’t spoken publicly about the scandal that broke amid the end of her marriage since February, when she called the situation “devastating on many fronts”.
A special-needs teacher at a Tamworth school, she has reportedly upped her work to full-time since her marriage split, and two of her daughters are said to have worked holiday jobs at a chicken farm to help pay their way.
But while Mr Joyce repeatedly batted away questions about his wife on Sunday Night, the show involved her by screening footage of her with the then-deputy PM at a winter ball in Canberra last year.
“Natalie had every right to be left alone,” Mr Joyce said.
He refused to “humiliate anybody” by saying if he still loved his wife when he and Ms Campion began their affair. But he admitted to “living a lie” by continuing to live with Natalie while being secretly involved with another woman.
While she’s been keeping a low profile, Mrs Joyce hasn’t been a recluse. In February, she was snapped drinking pink champagne and chatting with political lobbyist and family friend Michael Kauter at the 40th birthday party of a National Party donor on a yacht on Sydney Harbour.
A post shared by Michael Kauter (Private) (@mkauter) on
Mrs Joyce’s youngest daughter Bridgette – whose big sisters are Julia, Odette and Caroline – responded to the photo: “Beautiful,” she wrote, with two heart emojis.