Thank God You're Here: articles

Thank God You're Here snatched from Ten

In a stunning manoeuvre, the Seven Network has snatched away the Ten Network's ratings jewel, Thank God You're Here.

Seven will air the top-rating improv comedy show next year, following the confirmation today of a deal between the network and Melbourne-based production company Working Dog.

The move is a major blow to the Ten Network - Thank God You're Here is one of Ten's most popular shows.

Ten finished the year in third place with 20.7 per cent share of the TV audience, behind Seven (29.5 per cent share) and Nine (26.7 per cent share). Ten's share is down from its peak of 23.8 per cent in 2004.

Of particular concern to Ten will be Thank God You're Here's popularity with its target audience of 16- to 39-year-olds.

Co-producer Tom Gleisner, who serves as the show's judge, said the move would allow the series to be exposed to "a whole new audience".

"Having taken a year off, it felt right to try some new things with the show, including a different home," he said.

The series won a Logie Award for Most Outstanding Comedy Program in 2007.

It launched on Ten in 2006 and was an immediate hit with viewers. For most of its broadcast life it has sustained audiences of between 1.4 million and 1.7 million.

It is hosted by the actor and comedian Shane Bourne, who also stars in the Seven Network drama City Homicide.

The Seven/Working Dog deal inadvertently irons out the contractual wrinkle of having Bourne work for two rival networks.

The series has been sold extensively overseas by Fremantle Media.

It airs in more than a dozen countries, several of which produce local versions. Notably, the German and US versions were axed after a handful of episodes.

The most recent adaptation, in Britain, was launched in January.

Gleisner told the Herald the change of channels was prompted by a desire to re-freshen the improv comedy format.

"We tend to do a lot of these thigs on instinct. We just felt a show like Thank God You're Here could do with a fresh start," he said. "We're always wary of running any project past its used-by date."

The deal does not tie Working Dog to Seven.

"(Seven CEO) David Leckie is keen for us to bring anything else we have and we are tossing around a bunch of ideas," Gleisner said. "But we will come up with the idea first, and work out where it best belongs."

Gleisner would not say when Ten was told, but indicated Working Dog had been talking to Ten "over many weeks" about a potential renewal.

"I don't know how they will have taken it," he said, referring to the announcement the series would be moving to Seven. "I imagine, disappointed."

Gleisner said Working Dog would happily work for Ten in the future. "We continue to have a great relationship with them. If we come up with a new idea that suits Ten, we will be the first to take it there."

Gleisner confirmed Working Dog was in talks with the ABC for a third series of its political satire The Hollowmen.

By Michael Idato
December 02, 2008
The Age