The Project (TV program)
The Project logo
|Also known as||The 7PM Project (2009–11)|
|Developed by||Roving Enterprises|
|Presented by||Carrie Bickmore
|Country of origin||Australia|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||1,282 (as of 22 April 2014)|
|Executive producer(s)||Craig Campbell|
|Location(s)||The Como Centre, South Yarra, Melbourne|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Roving Enterprises|
|Original channel||Network Ten|
|Picture format||576i (SDTV)|
|Original run||20 July 2009 – present|
The Project (previously The 7PM Project) is an Australian talk show and news/current affairs television program airing weeknights across Australia on Network Ten. The formerly half hour long show premiered on 20 July 2009 and is hosted by Carrie Bickmore and Peter Helliar, with rotating daily guest panellists. It airs live in the eastern states with delays in other states (as well as Queensland during daylight saving). It is produced from Network Ten's Melbourne studios. Describing itself as an infotainment program, The Project draws its content and comedy from recent news stories. It runs for 51 weeks of the year, taking brief breaks during the Christmas and New Year period.
On 19 October 2011, Network Ten announced that it was to axe 6.30 with George Negus and was to move The 7PM Project to the timeslot; extend it to an hour and retitle it The Project. These changes came into effect on 31 October 2011, the show's 575th episode. Just three months later, Network Ten announced it would move The Project to the 6:00-7:00pm timeslot to free up the 7pm timeslot and launch a Sunday edition to air for half an hour. These changes came into effect on 23 January 2012 in its first Sunday edition and the show's 630th overall episode. In addition, an encore of the night's program is shown at approximately 11.15pm weekday evenings.
However, on 23 October 2012 Network Ten announced that the program would move back to the 6:30-7:30pm timeslot from 3 December 2012 (the 899th episode), with The Simpsons returning to the 6pm timeslot.
- 1 Format
- 2 Former presenters
- 3 Panellists
- 4 Regular panellists
- 5 History
- 6 Special episodes
- 7 Reception
- 8 Awards
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The program is hosted by Carrie Bickmore and Peter Hellier. Regular guest panellists appearing during the week include Steve Price, Natasha Stott-Despoja, Todd Sampson, Waleed Aly, Gorgi Coghlan, Mia Freedman, Nicole Livingstone, Anthony 'Lehmo' Lehmann, Dr Andrew Rochford, Helen McCabe, Dr Chris Brown and Chrissie Swan. The hosts are also often joined by several special guests during the course of an episode.
The main content of the show revolves around Bickmore and Helliar at the desk discussing some of the news events of the day as reported by Bickmore. This discussion may involve live crosses to reporters in the field or guests via satellite or Skype, as well as in the studio. In addition, the show also features pre-recorded interviews with celebrities, as well as feature stories by the cast.
- Dave Hughes (2009–2013). On 8 December 2013, it was announced that regular host Dave Hughes was quitting the Project in order to concentrate on his stand-up comedy routine with a national tour in 2014. For his final appearance on the show on 11 December, Hughes was given an emotional farewell by co-hosts Bickmore and Pickering.
- Charlie Pickering (2009–2014). On 12 March 2014, Pickering announced that he would be leaving the show on 7 April 2014. He has not yet been replaced.
- Monday: Steve Price
- Tuesday: Andrew Rochford
- Wednesday: Todd Sampson
- Thursday: Natasha Stott-Despoja
- Friday: Anthony 'Lehmo' Lehmann & Waleed Aly
Regular panellists are subject to change.
UK Correspondent: Lucy McDonald
Former regular panellists
- Ruby Rose – Entertainment Reporter & Panellist (2009)
- James Mathison – Reporter & Panellist (2009–2010)
- Scott Pape – "Money Shot" (2009–2010)
- Rove McManus - Roving Reporter (2009–2010)
- George Negus - Panellist (2010–2011; 2012)
- Denise Scott - Panellist (2010–2011)
2009 (season one)
The program premiered on 20 July 2009 and aired as a live broadcast on weeknights from 7:00 to 7:30 pm. Roving Enterprises, the production company owned by Rove McManus and Craig Campbell produces the series. The promos of the show used musical samples of Hello from The Cat Empire.
The premiere episode featured MasterChef Australia season one winner Julie Goodwin and an interview with Sienna Miller and Rachel Nichols. During the first season Ruby Rose and James Mathison were credited as part of the main cast, though their contributions were often limited to guest appearances and pre-recorded interviews.
During the 2009 summer, in order to increase the profile of the show, Monday and Friday episodes were extended to an hour and the program was repeated in a late night (11 pm) timeslot to attract late night viewers who may have missed the show earlier in the evening. In addition, from 30 November 2009, the show underwent a small visual revamp. With the lights getting brighter, the set was changed to accommodate a more "summery" feel with the background displaying a blue sky and the foreground featuring more orange and brown lighting, skewing away from the dark, night-time feel from the start of the show. New titles were also added to fit the feel. As of 8 February 2010, Channel 10 cancelled the late night repeat of the show. Ten's summer late night repeats of 7PM were always a part of its strategy to win more followers for the show.
2010 (season two)
For 2010's non-daylight savings period, the visuals reverted to display a more night time feel or reflection, however not to the extent as was seen in 2009 with orange and brown lighting still accompanying the set. A large screen was also added to the background.
In 2010, Carrie Bickmore and Charlie Pickering were nominated for the Logie of Most Popular New Female and Most Popular Male Talent respectively. Ten announced in June 2010 that the series had been renewed for another year.
On 20 July 2010, the show celebrated its first year on air with regulars Kitty Flanagan and Steve Price and MasterChef evictee, Alvin Quah. The celebratory show commenced with a look back at the shows first moments on air a year beforehand.
For the week starting 27 December 2010, the show went into a summer series entitled The Holiday Project. It lasted for five episodes (as this was the length of time the show took a break) and featured Charlie Pickering and Dave Hughes sitting in front of the set reviewing some of the more popular segments, news stories and events of the show in 2010 while infrequently crossing to the Ten News room for the day's headlines. Carrie Bickmore and all other guest presenters did not feature in the series.
2011 (season three)
The show returned on 3 January 2011. However due to the death of Carrie Bickmore's husband, guest presenters replaced her during January. Bickmore returned on 14 February 2011. George Negus effectively finished his stint as a regular guest panellist on the show in January 2011 when he began to host his new current affairs program, 6PM with George Negus (later 6.30 with George Negus).
On 10 March 2011 it was revealed the show scored an exclusive interview with embattled actor Charlie Sheen to be hosted by Nova personality and 7PM Project regular Scott Dooley. It was the only Australian interview with the star and also tentatively the last interview to be conducted with Sheen in light of his supposed breakdown after having his Two and a Half Men contract terminated.
The interview was shown on the show as an exclusive on 11 March 2011 with Dooley interviewed personally on the show the night before. The airing of the exclusive interview coincidentally occurred while Sheen's house was raided by police.
In light of the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, Ten aired a special wedding coverage special of The 7PM Project titled The Wedding Project that ran for an hour on 29 April 2011. It aired to lacklustre ratings.
On 9 June 2011, "St Kilda Schoolgirl" Kim Duthie, who infamously told media that she had "slept" with AFL player agent Ricky Nixon, appeared on the program in a pre-recorded interview in which she said that comments she made earlier in the day when she told media that she was "lying" about her accusations. The interview made headlines when an off air comment by Duthie stating that "everything [she] said, [she] lied about", referring to her interview with the show, was shown live during the episode after the airing of the interview.
Approaching its second anniversary, the program scheduled numerous special episodes which were rumoured to have been scheduled to combat a drop in ratings due to strong competition. From 11 July 2011 and running for a week, various Australian politicians joined the panel and co-hosted an entire episode. Politicians included Prime Minister Julia Gillard, MP Bob Katter and Greens politician Adam Bandt.
For the week starting 18 July 2011, the program also invited members of the general public, who have strong opinions on various current events, to join the panel.
On 18 July 2011, the program celebrated its 500th episode. It featured "Your Chair" panellist Louise Benjamin, Jennifer Byrne and all three regular panellists. Two days later, on 20 July 2011, the program celebrated its second year on air with "Your Chair" panellist Kim Forrester, Andrew Rochford and all three regular panellists.
The show commemorated the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks with a series of stories detailing how people affected by the event have coped over the past 10 years.
Regular guest Tom Ballard was given a regular Thursday segment entitled "Resident Expert" in September 2011. It is similar in style to Kitty Flanagan's Tuesday segment in which Ballard discusses a news story based on a recent scientific, statistical, social or medical study in humour.
On 19 October 2011, Network Ten announced the program would be moved from 7 pm to 6:30 pm (replacing the axed 6.30 with George Negus), extended to one-hour and renamed The Project. The first edition of the new hour-long program aired on 31 October 2011.
As in previous years, Channel Ten is continuing to air The Project over summer in a bid to gain more of an audience share, particularly due to the lack of other new content of rival networks. The Project took a short break over the Christmas period and was replaced by a special "best of" series of the show, a compilation of episodes from the past year.
2012 (season four)
The Project returned on 2 January 2012 with new episodes.
On 22 January 2012, the show added a half hour edition on Sundays which airs at 6pm. The hourly editions aired on weeknights will also shift to 6pm as of the following day, 23 January 2012, and remain at an hour in length. It will be the second move for the show in three months.
In addition, the show has added a weekly weather update segment accommodated into its new Sunday show.
On 14 February 2012 (Valentine's Day), actress Magda Szubanski came onto the show to tell the panel that she 'identified as gay' in support for gay marriage. On the show, she said, 'I absolutely identify as gay ... and it must be hard for people who don't experience it to know what the pressures of being gay are.' 
On 8 March 2012, in addition to its regular episode at 6PM, a special episode showcasing an unedited version of the movie Kony 2012 along with some discussion was aired at 8PM as part of the global social-network campaign phenomenon asking for the arrest of Ugandan rebels leader Joseph Kony.
The show was nominated for Most Popular Light Entertainment Program and Most Outstanding Light Entertainment Program in the 2012 Logie Awards. Newsreader Carrie Bickmore was nominated for Most Popular Television Presenter and the Gold Logie. These nominations were announced on 18 March 2012.
On 12 July 2012, Carrie Bickmore and her co-hosts became very emotional after airing a story about 31-year-old Queensland mother Emma Rathie who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and whose son Blake had embarked on completing a 'bucket-list' of experiences that he and his mother could have before the end of her life. With donations and support via Facebook, Rathie and her son were able to experience several of the items on the list before her death in September 2012.
On 24 July 2012, mild controversy was caused when actor Hugh Sheridan appeared on the show promoting his new show, I Will Survive. During the interview, Sheridan called South Australian town Port Augusta; 'Port Au-Gutta', which was seen as a mockery of Aboriginal slang by locals.
On 7 August 2012, guest Will Ferrell found himself speaking via video link to PM Julia Gillard. Unsure of how to address the Prime-Minister, Ferrell asked 'can I just call you Jules?'. He then proceeded to ask Gillard for advice on how to improve his hair, to which she suggested that he take himself to a hair-dresser right away and spend 'buckets and buckets of money on in-salon treatments'.
Pickering took time off in late-October to cover the US Election and for personal leave. Hughes will take leave in December.
On 29 August 2012, Carrie Bickmore mispronounced the word 'Qantas' as 'Cuntas' during a reading of the news headlines. The incident went viral with a YouTube video of the moment garnering more than 250,000 views.
On 25 November 2012, the final half hour Sunday edition aired and it was hosted by Carrie Bickmore and Andrew Rochford along with panellists Magdalena Roze and Anthony 'Lehmo' Lehmann.
During 2012, The Project were awarded numerous awards, including the Yooralla Media Award of Distinction at the National Disability Awards.
With the axing of Breakfast, the encores of The Project moved from 5am weekday mornings to following the TEN Late News.
2013 (season five)
The Project returned with new episodes on 31 December 2012 for its 2013 season. It's the first time the show has begun a new season before the new year, and the first time episodes have been broadcast on New Year's Eve and Day.
In response to the 2013 Queensland Floods, on January 28 The Project aired a separate live edition special into the state of Queensland. As Queenslanders usually watch The Project on a one-hour delay (due to time zones), this meant that the team could tape a separate live edition of the show immediately after the main show and still air it in Queensland at the usual time of 6.30pm. Due to these circumstances, the main show, which was still broadcast to the rest of Australia that night, did not air in Queensland.
The Project was nominated for three Logie Awards at the 2013 ceremony with newsreader Bickmore again picking up two nominations for the Gold Logie and Silver Logie for Most Popular Presenter, and the show earning a nomination in the Most Popular Light Entertainment Program category. Bickmore nor The Project won either category.
On Tuesday, 9 April, Sex Pistols star John Lydon caused controversy after his erratic behaviour during an interview. When host Carrie Bickmore asked him about his views on the recent death of Margaret Thatcher, Lydon told her to shut up continuously before telling her that 'when a man is talking, you don't interrupt', a quote that drew considerable gasps from the audience. Bickmore apologised and asked him the question again, however this time Lydon accused her of being an 'in-dreadfully loud bird' he doesn't like. Bickmore aired her offence at the comment, however Lydon continued to tell her how loud she was being and how she shouldn't be 'yelling' and should 'learn what manners and respect is', drawing more gasps from the audience. After rejecting Bickmore's request to ask the question a third time, telling her to 'taper her voice' down 'a couple of thousand notches', fellow co-host Andrew Rochford stepped in, even trying to ask if Lydon's rant was based on Bickmore's gender, however Lydon accused the panel of yelling into his earpiece 'like excitable children'. He began to get arrogant and erratic, and after a heckle from co-host Dave Hughes, Bickmore tried asking the question one more time. When Lydon continually made jibes about the volume of her, and the other hosts' voice, Dave Hughes swiftly ended the interview by thanking Lydon for his time, however he left the interview telling the panel that they're 'done'. Bickmore has since admitted that she wanted to scream at Lydon after his sexist remarks, agreeing with Rochford's claim that Lydon was a misogynist pig.
The show's 1,000th episode went to air on 30 April 2013.
On Thursday 2 May, Carrie Bickmore became emotional when speaking about the awareness of brain cancer following a story about a potential cure for the disease in ten years time. Bickmore lost her husband to brain cancer in 2010 and this episode marked the first time Bickmore addressed her own experiences with the illness on-air. Bickmore stated that she didn't "think people realise the mental and physical impact that it has on people, on patients, over a long period of time as the disease progresses." While it wasn't the first time Bickmore has broken down on air, this moment was highly publicised due to the context.
On Saturday 7 September, the program aired an election special titled The Election Project with Hugh Riminton. This is the second election The Project has covered the election, however this edition ran from the time the booths closed on the Eastern Seaboard until approximately 10.30pm when the majority of polling results were locked in. Despite time differences across the country, The Project aired live into all markets, starting earlier for states away from the Eastern Seaboard. This is opposed to the one-hour edition of the show that ran during the 2010 election, half an hour of which did not air in South Australia and none of which aired in Western Australia. The 4 hour and 20 minute broadcast of The Project was the show's longest in its history.
On 1 November, British singer & presenter Melanie Brown was forced to cancel a planned appearance on the Project as a guest co-host after Ch-7 threatened legal action against her, citing that Brown was still under contract with Seven and not authorised to make appearances on rival networks.
On 24 November, US actor/comedian Will Ferrell was a guest co-host appearing in character as newsreader Ron Burgundy from the film Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues which Ferrell was visiting Australia to promote. Burgundy traded quips with co-host Ray Martin, saying that if the two were competing, he would take Martin out for lunch and cocktails and then sabotage the brakes on his car.
On 8 December 2013, it was announced that regular host Dave Hughes was quitting the Project in order to concentrate on his stand-up comedy routine with a national tour in 2014. His final appearance on the show was 11 December 2013.
2014 (season six)
On 13 January 2014, new co-host Peter Helliar made his debut on The Project to mixed reviews. On 12 March 2014, Charlie Pickering announced he is leaving the show on 7 April 2014, the second presenter to do so in less than six months. He has not yet been replaced.
Since its inception, several special episodes of The 7PM Project have aired. The first of which, The Election Project took a look at the 2010 Federal Election during the count while a second entitled The Games Project, looked at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
A one-hour special entitled The Election Project, airing on Saturday, 21 August 2010, was the first time the show has on a weekend. It aired to cover the 2010 National Election. Guests included Hugh Riminton and George Negus. The show got 459,000 viewers, ranking 11th for the night. The special returned for the 2013 election and aired for 4 hours and 23 minutes, making it the longest broadcast of The Project ever. Riminton returned with regular panellists Steve Price and Natasha Stott-Despoja as well as candidates from the Labor and Liberal parties. This edition only rated 306,000 over its four and a half hour broadcast.
While Channel Ten showed an hour's worth of the show in the majority of states, Adelaide was only shown 30 minutes due to football commitments. This may have altered the overall ratings for the show.
This was the first time since the mid-1990s that Ten devoted coverage to a national election; usually the network opted to air alternative programming.
The Games Project featured guests including Nicole Livingstone and again ran for an hour with a half hour airing in Adelaide with none of the show aired in Perth and Brisbane. The show aired immediately before the Opening Ceremony and garnered 301,000 viewers.
A third special episode, "The Wedding Project", aired on 29 April 2011 as an extension of its regular Friday episode for that night. The show aired for an hour in all metropolitan centres, focussing on that days royal wedding. It was hosted as usual by Hughes and Pickering with guest panellists Angela Bishop and Tracey Curro joining the boys at the desk. Bickmore along with Lucy McDonald, Hamish MacDonald and others were crossed to frequently reporting on events live from the UK.
Regular Guests Hamish Blake and Andy Lee, formerly of Rove Live, have appeared to present segments as a visual connection to the activities that they undertake on their weekly radio program, The Hamish and Andy Show, segments presented have included See No Evil Hear No Evil and Hungry Hungry Heroes.
A special episode, The Project Special: Kony 2012, aired at 8PM, in addition to its regular 6PM edition, on 8 March 2012.
The 7PM Project drew 1.285 million viewers for its premiere episode. Ratings dropped across subsequent episodes. Averaged over its opening week, The 7PM Project had 0.938 million viewers per episode. The average viewers for the second week dropped to 0.7392 million viewers per episode.
TV Tonight, an Australian television blog, commented that The 7PM Project would not be axed as they believed that the show has not had enough time to "[develop] its format".
After dropping in ratings, The 7PM Project stabilised around the 700,000–750,000 mark, occasionally dropping below 690,000.
On its first broadcast out of the ratings year, The 7PM Project sustained an audience of 826,000, a substantially higher audience than in recent episodes that averaged around 650,000.
Ratings were still low at the beginning of the year however started to build from late March. The show started to regularly achieve an audience above 700,000 by the end of the fifth season of The Biggest Loser which was also building an audience. The end of daylight savings in some states was also attributed to its rising ratings (the practice has proved to be detrimental to the performance of early evening programs such as The 7PM Project). The program saw an even greater rise in viewers when the network's flagship reality juggernaut MasterChef Australia returned.
On 3 June 2010, The 7PM Project had a viewing audience of just under 1.1 million viewers. It was the first time the show rose above the million (albeit that same week's Monday episode, which also hit the million mark in adjusted figures) since the launch and managed to win in all key demographics and more importantly, in total people.
Its first year birthday special, airing on 20 July 2010, gained 1,207,000 viewers, winning its timeslot and becoming the highest rated episode of the show since its debut.
The 7PM Project returned on 3 January for the first time in 2011. After a generally low rating summer series, the show achieved 680,000. A week later, due to the 2010–2011 Queensland floods, rival networks extended news coverage which pushed comparable current affair shows such as Today Tonight which airs on the Seven Network and A Current Affair which airs on the Nine Network to be pushed from their usual timeslot of 6.30 into direct competition with The 7PM Project. Despite the heavy news week, the added competition from the higher rating current affair programs pushed viewer ship down to a low of 496,000 on Friday with episodes across the week also down. The 7PM Project came in 36th for the week, averaging out 657,000.
The show averaged just under 1.1 million viewers on 2 May 2011; the first (and only) time the show rose above a million in 2011.
Despite averaging, on the whole, lower ratings than in 2010, the show has stabilised to around 750,000–800,000 per night with episodes rarely achieving above 850,000 and below 600,000.
In its first outing at 6.30, The Project scored 571,000; fourth in its slot and the third highest rating show on TEN for that night.
In its first Sunday edition, the show managed 392,000 viewers, coming fourth in the timeslot however has since rated consistently above 400,000. According to Network Ten, the move of the show to 6pm has boosted their 6-7pm hour by 22% in terms of viewers.
On 16 April 2012, The Project began splitting its figures into half hour intervals. This gave a better indication on how the show does over the 6pm and 6.30pm half hours. On this particular broadcast, The Project rated 649,000 from 6.30-7.00pm, and 506,000 from 6.00-6.30pm.
The Project has struggled since returning to screens in 2013 with episodes rarely achieving ratings above half a million and increasingly finding itself outside the national top 20 programs for the night.
The show saw a rise in viewers during the Easter non-ratings period. On 1 April 2013, the program reached 582,000 viewers. The 1000th episode of the show, to air on 30 April 2013, reached only 493,000 viewers, however the show bounced back to its highest rating of 2013 the following night (Wednesday May 1) with 610,000 viewers.
By August, ratings had risen to an average of 700,000, hitting the one million mark on occasion, earning the show an overall viewer increase of over 4% when compared to 2012. Demographically, the biggest audience increase came from the 25-54 age group.
The Project has languished in the ratings, with the first half of the show twice rating under 300,000
Bickmore won a Logie Award in the category of Most Popular New Female Talent for her work on the show. Pickering was nominated for a Logie Award in the category of Most Popular New Male Talent for his work on the show.
|2010||Carrie Bickmore||Most Popular New Female Talent||Won|
|Charlie Pickering||Most Popular New Male Talent||Nominated|
|2012||Carrie Bickmore||Gold Logie||Nominated|
|Carrie Bickmore||Most Popular Presenter||Nominated|
|The Project||Most Popular Light Entertainment Program||Nominated|
|The Project||Most Outstanding Light Entertainment Program||Nominated|
|2013||Carrie Bickmore||Gold Logie||Nominated|
|Carrie Bickmore||Most Popular Presenter||Nominated|
|The Project||Most Popular Light Entertainment Program||Nominated|
|2012||Hamish Macdonald||Television Current Affairs Reporting for his report, 'Age of Uncertainty'||Won|
National Disability Awards
|2012||The Project||Yooralla Media Award of Distinction||Won|
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- The Project – Official website
- The 7PM Project at the Internet Movie Database
- Backlash to McDonald's endorsement