Channel Seven’s Plate of Origin burned out amid a dismal ratings performance, but its lingering bad taste may have come back to bite the ailing network.
Featuring a double-take panel of judges (MasterChef stalwarts plus the non-controversial My Kitchen Rules judge), the program was meant to be Channel Seven’s reality lead in to the Olympics.
Except the Olympics didn’t happen, and the viewers didn’t tune in.
Now, industry rumours abound Channel Seven will have to pay out the Plate of Origin (which the Twittersphere quickly abbreviated to POO) judges’ contracts for up to three seasons.
It’s been reported Manu Feildel, Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan signed on to the show with three seasons inked in their contract.
Since the network rolled the final two episodes into a three-hour grand finale – just to get it out of the way – we can assume there won’t be a follow-up two seasons.
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Which leaves Seven, according to Woman’s Day, with a hefty bill.
“All three of them signed on for three seasons of Plate of Origin,” an insider told the mag.
“Seven really thought the comeback would have delivered a loyal audience, so the figure was no small number.”
It’s another barb for the wounded network, which is still trying to cover the scheduling black hole left by the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The fact Seven produced the program in the first place was a sign of desperate times, TV historian Andrew Mercado said.
They jumped on slighted MasterChef judges Preston and Mehigan, rounding up to a trio with displaced MKR staple Feildel.
“That was the whole problem – the talent came first and they threw a format around it,” Mercado told The New Daily.
TV Tonight‘s David Knox felt the same, saying it felt like a “thin concept”.
“(There was not) enough point of difference from the tired My Kitchen Rules – and why weren’t Indigenous ingredients used to represent Team Australia? Neither show deserves to return any time soon,” Knox told TND.
Still plenty left in the tank
The culinary reality TV recipe still works, Knox and Mercado agreed – just look at the revitalised MasterChef.
It was the veteran program’s best season in years, reinvigorated by a judging panel line-up, of which Melissa Leong was the hero.
Viewers are now in store for Junior MasterChef, where the tiniest cooks in Australia make the rest of us feel like our kitchen talents amount to nothing more than a toasted sandwich and boiled egg.
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“MasterChef has been a big hit this year thanks to clever and warm casting … its aspirational skill base and varied storytelling. Every episode they change the way the cooking is tested,” Knox said.
“Hopefully Junior MasterChef does not dilute the brand, but promos suggest more exceptional talent.”
As Mercado pointed out, it’s only the third time Australia has seen the Juniors format hit TVs – in fact, so long between seasons that one of this year’s contestants is the 11-year-old son of 2018 MasterChef winner Sashi Cheliah.