Entertainment TV ‘Bunch of bores’: New-look Today savaged on debut
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‘Bunch of bores’: New-look Today savaged on debut

Deb Knight Scott Morrison
Deb Knight interviews PM Scott Morrison on Nine's Today on January 14. Photo: Nine
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The much-heralded, new-look Today show was savaged on its Monday debut by armchair critics including former TV breakfast show weather presenter Grant Denyer.

But Nine, which axed all Today’s stars except host Georgie Gardner in a clean sweep before Christmas, is unconcerned about negative feedback about its new faces.

“Of course we’re happy with our line-up,” a spokesperson told The New Daily on Monday.

“The show has been well received from viewers.”

Well, yes and no.

Less than an hour after the new line-up – Gardner, co-host Deb Knight, sports presenter Tony Jones, entertainment reporter Brooke Boney and newsreader Tom Steinfort – kicked off at 5.30am, viewers vented on social media.

Via the show’s official Facebook page, they criticised everything from the “uneven” gap between the hosts’ seats to the female-heavy panel and the authenticity of Gardner and Knight.

“This is like watching paint dry! A bunch of bores,” one user said.

“What a bunch of fakes! Georgie go home, bring back Karl!” said a second.

The backlash on Twitter was just as harsh.

“Lost me, just switched off,” posted one viewer while another lamented “there’s no fun here”.

But other viewers gave props to the new “breath of fresh air” panel.

“I’m enjoying it … wasn’t too sure but yep, I will keep watching. Good move,” commented one.

Denyer, the 2018 Gold Logie winner and former weatherman at Seven’s rival breakfast show Sunrise, told Sydney radio station 2DayFM while “it’s progressive there are two female hosts”, without Karl the show lacks “entertainers” and flashiness.

That’s who wins the breakfast TV war. The more colourful you are, the louder you are, the more you win.

“When Today show was flying … was when Karl was loose. But now they’re going to flip it and go ‘straighty-one-eighty’ and I don’t think it will work in the breakfast market, because that’s what the ABC is for.”

Nine is banking on its new presenters stemming the ratings plunge suffered by Today after Stefanovic lost the popular vote with middle Australia thanks to his divorce woes and ‘Ubergate’.

The new panel had to deal with broadcasting from Melbourne Park, with Nine following the show with its coverage of the first day of the Australian Open.

Gardner opened proceedings by introducing Knight, who called her co-star “partner in crime” and said it felt like “the first day of school”.

The story line-up included yarns about the weather, Margot Robbie’s wig and make-up in Mary Queen of Scots and billboards falling on cars.

A Scott Morrison interview gave Knight the chance to contrast the new Today panel with the Liberal Party.

“We are starting with two female hosts here today. What are you doing about getting more women into the ranks?” she asked.

The chemistry between Knight and Gardner seemed a touch forced, Steinfort was solid and former Triple J presenter Boney sounded like the work experience girl.

Old hand Jones was the best performer on the day, keeping the momentum going.

Media analyst Steve Allen from Fusion Strategy said it’s very early days to be drawing conclusions: “You can never judge a program that’s unscripted on one episode, especially the first episode.”

While agreeing with Denyer that television is an entertainment business, “When Nine announced the line-up I secretly thought there was an opportunity for Today to become even more serious.

“So in contrast with Grant Denyer, I thought they might try and separate themselves from Sunrise by going back to their news credentials,” Mr Allen said.