Sport AFL The Footy Show’s blokes’ world gets a big shake-up
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The Footy Show’s blokes’ world gets a big shake-up

Channel Nine
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The irony was writ large.

At the same time as The Age’s chief football writer Caroline Wilson was on Open Mike, discussing the emotional toll The Footy Show’s infamous ‘mannequin incident’ took on her, the show’s brains trust (we use the term loosely) at Channel Nine were preparing to announce they’d appointed a female co-host.

Former Channel 7 stalwart Rebecca Maddern is charged with the task of bringing some class and femininity to the blokiest, most undergraduate two hours of the television week – replacing regular co-host Garry Lyon, who is battling mental health issues.

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News of the appointment created a storm on The Footy Show‘s Facebook page.

While a slight majority appeared in favour of the news, some people – of both genders – questioned whether the show was merely bowing to pressure over claims it was sexist and outdated.

Rebecca Maddern in glamour mode at the Logies. Photo: Getty
Rebecca Maddern in glamour mode at the Logies. Photo: Getty

“What complete f***wit put a woman on the footy show … Can’t we have one show?” wrote one man.

A woman wrote that she had no interest in watching her own gender talk about football.

“They have never kicked a footy or played in an AFL team,” she wrote.

“They get too emotional and I’d rather leave it to the blokes.

“Give me a break from political correctness.”

Maddern said she wasn’t concerned by the social media chatter.

“I haven’t actually been onto the Facebook page, it doesn’t bother me,” she said.

“If I didn’t have thick skin I wouldn’t have probably survived in media for this long … let them write what they write, if they don’t want to watch the show, they don’t have to.”

Maddern is an award-winning journalist, having received a prestigious Quills award in 2003 for her coverage of Victorian bushfires.

Since then she’s been used by Channel 7 in a variety of roles – newsreader, co-host of Sunrise and The Morning Show, reporter on Sunday Night and presenter on coverage of the Spring Carnival.

Controlling Sam

Geelong born and bred, she has football in her blood – Maddern has been the Cats’ number one ticket holder since 2011.

Relations with Sam Newman, ‘Foss’, The Footy Show’s chief agitator and a Geelong legend, should therefore be civil enough.

But just how will Maddern slot into this motley crew of overgrown teenagers?

Will she just be on Newman alert, trying to stop the Foss from offending all and sundry?

“Could anyone control Sam Newman?” she asked in a 3AW interview.

“Sam Newman is unique. The Footy Show viewers love Sam Newman for that very fact. He’s unpredictable.

Sam Newman has a long and controversial history. Photo: Getty
Sam Newman has a long and controversial history. Photo: Getty

“It’s two hours of live TV and yes, you never know what you’re going to get with Sam Newman but that’s what makes him so loved in this town.

“Forty-five per cent of The Footy Show audience … are female, and the majority of those females absolutely love what they see on the box.

“So I don’t want to change that.”

Mannequin-gate

Maddern did, however, address the mannequin in the room.

In 2008, The Footy Show included a skit featuring a lingerie-clad mannequin with a picture of Caroline Wilson’s face on it.

Newman then proceeded to fondle the mannequin and make lewd remarks, prompting a flood of complaints.

In an episode of Open Mike that aired on Foxtel on Tuesday, Wilson said the incident had moved her to tears.

“I still can’t believe that it made me that upset … I just felt so humiliated,” she told Mike Sheahan.

Maddern said she would have felt exactly the same if she’d been the victim of the skit.

“I think they overstepped the mark,” Maddern said.

“I think they’ve acknowledged that and I think that if it happened to me I’d have been in tears for days as well.

“That’s not the only incident in the past. I think they’ve overstepped the mark (at other times too).

“I can’t promise that they won’t again but we will deal with that situation when it happens.”

And Maddern defended Sam, JB, Billy and the boys from suggestions The Footy Show is misogynistic.

“I wouldn’t be joining a show like that if that was what I thought the show was truly about,” she said.

“I think that’s very much a minority view.”

Maddern’s The Footy Show debut will be on April 7.

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