Another nail in the coffin of intelligent presenters on tv?

by Lee Hopkins on November 29, 2006

in Uncategorized

Tracey SpicerNews reaches me from the ABC that one of our television stations has sacked one of its long-serving and popular presenters, just after she returned from maternity leave.

And they did it by email! Nice touch.

After 14 years at the network, Tracey Spicer joins a growing list of female presenters who are past the age of 30 and are possibly seen by male network bosses as ‘tired and in need of a younger, prettier replacement’.

She joins an impressive list of female presenters that are no longer around: Jennifer Hansen, Jana Wendt, Jenny Brockie, Jennifer Byrnes, Maxine McKew — and it seems that Naomi Robson won’t be fronting a very popular program, Today Tonight, on Channel 7 from next year.

You have to admit that the anodyne, sterile and robotic replacements — such as Sandra Sully and her ilk — are younger. But prettier? More intelligent? Wiser? More knowledgeable? More comfortable in front of a camera? More adept at handling a live audience or live interview?

Jana Wendt was probably Australia’s equivalent of Jeremy Paxman, the UK political presenter who politicians feared to be interviewed by because he would savage and humiliate them publicly as they dug their own holes and were hoist by their own petards.

I miss Robbo — who brought comment, satire and innuendo to late night news decades ago. And the news was all the richer for it!

Now all we have is, as Jennifer Hansen says,

“Someone who has that newsreader helmet style hairdo, that doesn’t have a hair out of place, and talks in a monotone voice and dares not show any personality or have a life, because that would just be outrageous,” she said. “Actually, a robot is probably what they want.”

Robbo’s wit was popular with audiences, as letters to the ABC reflect after Robbo was removed from their Classic FM breakfast slot:

ABC’s originality takes a dive with the loss of Clive

The ABC has done it again. Why on earth remove the non-bland, provocative and daring-to-be-critical Clive Robertson from the Classic FM breakfast slot (“Clive’s coda: Classic FM host fades to Bach”, Herald, December 11-12)?

The usual platitudes about “mutual agreement”, etc, do not conceal the strong feeling that the ABC bureaucracy is not comfortable with someone as, dare we say it, entertaining and intelligently different as Clive. The start to the day will not be the same.

Harold Hanson, Wollongong, December 11.


Kate Dundas, national head of music at the ABC, has not renewed Clive Robertson’s contract. Thanks a lot, Scrooge Dundas. You’ve ruined our weekend, our Christmas and our new year, doubtless in order to soothe the effete silvertails who have whined about not getting enough Wagner.

Of course, the rot set in when the rumours flew around concerning the heart-stopping fact that the great unwashed (even common labourers, my dear!) had been caught enjoying the benefits of Clive’s wit, musical knowledge and, most importantly, his ability to entertain, thus drawing in all manner of folks listening to and appreciating good music.

Patricia Ellercamp, Caves Beach, December 12.


With Robbo now safely out of the way, “our ABC” can concentrate on broadcasting noice light musical comedy, and interviews with pompous theomaniacs. If the ABC is nothing else it is consistently dull these days, a symptom of an entrenched committee management by a bunch of overpaid, mediocre bureaucrats who have never had an original thought in their sad lives.

Clive might take some comfort in the probability that if J.S. Bach was appointed head of music at the ABC, he would only last a day. Vale irony, eccentricity, whimsy and wit.

John Smeaton, Maryville, December 11.


Note to ABC management: find Clive Robertson another job at the ABC so as to staunch the flow of intellectual blood from the national broadcaster.

Note to Margaret Throsby: I am deeply saddened to hear that you have lost your old sparring partner and equal to your genius.

Note to Clive: thank you for three brilliant, confounding and compelling years. Sob, sigh and c’est la vie.

Andrew White, Glenhaven, December 11.

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