Canal Road: articles

Celebrity chef grills local TV drama

FOUL-MOUTHED Gordon Ramsay will dominate prime-time, after Channel Nine shoved out a local drama to install the celebrity chef at 8.30 three nights a week.

Melbourne-made drama Canal Road has been pushed back to the twilight zone of 10.30 on Wednesday night after poor audiences for the first two episodes, and will be replaced with Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen.

The British chef's profanity-filled program Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares has been a hit on Tuesday and Thursday nights, but analysts are concerned about potential over-exposure. Media buyer Steve Allen, of Fusion Strategy, said Nine made a similar mistake with the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation franchise last year.

The intensity of Nightmares — which has included up to 112 instances of the word "f---" in a one-hour show — could be dulled when spread across the week, he said. "This could over-do it."

Nine's Melbourne program manager Len Downs disputed that CSI's three franchises had been hurt through overexposure and denied ratings would be hurt through Ramsay's ubiquity.

"No, I don't think that's the case," he said, comparing the chef's popularity to series such as Ten's Law and Order. "It's getting half a million (viewers) in Melbourne on a Tuesday and over half a million on Thursday. If people are enjoying it I don't see why it should be any different."

Downs expressed disappointment at the demise of Canal Road, a murder mystery set at a city medico-legal clinic, but offered no explanation for its failure to engage a broad audience.

The series debuted to 1.1 million viewers, but fell 24% the next week, to an average of 837,000 nationally.

"That's part of the game — we've got to look at the audience," he said.

By Daniel Ziffer
April 29, 2008
The Age