Bec Maddern, bless your cotton socks, but we’re sorry in advance.
Before the explanation of the necessity for said apologies, it should be noted that after an expected initial adjustment Erin Molan, a respected, young Sydney journo has done marvellously well replacing Michael Slater as the co-host of the NRL Footy Show for a couple years now.
But the NRL Footy Show has masqueraded as a light-hearted rugby league program for years. The last time football was properly discussed on the AFL Footy Show Sam Newman was only onto his second wife, third nose and his hair was his own.
The whole premise of the AFL Footy Show is a meringue-soft, football related rundown (you know, the teams, the big news, maybe an interesting guest like a coach or a milestone player) trying to balance out as much as possible the key to the show’s very ongoing existence – Sam.
Sam isn’t anywhere near as offensive as Susie O’Brien’s thyroid will let you believe nor is he as provocative as the incoming leader of the free world, yet he isn’t suitable to a guest stint on Studio 10, this much we concede.
His presence on the show is as centre stage as he literally is – despite the studio being two curved panels facing one another he is somehow, yet deliberately, actually in the dead centre of the stage (take a look next time).
His off the cuff remarks, the risk of an upcoming faux paus, the eloquent social commentary that has nothing to do with the question of “Sam, who do you like between North Melbourne and Brisbane?”, these are the main reasons the working class still watch in droves.
If you want the teams, check Twitter. If you want to see a dog show save some money for showbags in mid-September. If you want to hear from some of the game’s biggest stars, don’t watch, they have a chair at the desk but they’re getting paid about $2k a sentence these days.
Sam and his anti-political correctness, his voice for the masses despite his upper-class lifestyle, his out and out shock value, these are the hooks for an easily-entertained and devoted fanbase.
What’s this got to do with Maddern?
What are the odds Sam will be anywhere near as loose (and therefore watchable) with her sitting two feet to his right? Sure, he might be ‘careful’ initially, but the dynamic has always, but only, worked with his ‘mates’.
Eddie McGuire was his close friend first and his host second – Garry Lyon and James Brayshaw much the same. He can be himself because Thursday night for Sam is glorified socialising, not work, and if something’s not right he won’t be anywhere near as open, as appealing.
Everyone knows that if Newman was to pull the plug on the Footy Show the network wouldn’t bother trying to replace him, the show would be celebrated into retirement.
Credit to Maddern if she can avoid disrupting the momentum of the show’s star attraction doing just that will be her gig, despite how cruel that sounds.
Because if, however, she’s any good at delivering on what she can bring to the table, which is plenty mind you, the value of the geriatric buffoon to her left will go the other way. And with that goes her viewership.
As we said Bec, sorry.