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The Sydney Morning Herald

Superbitch's demise spells trouble for Brother

Author: David Dale
Date: 03/05/2003
Words: 588
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: News And Features
Page: 48
Human sacrifice, or, more precisely, female sacrifice, is getting to be a habit with Channel Seven. Last Monday afternoon it declared three of its female managers redundant, and on Monday night it reaped the benefit of its earlier deletion of Angie Russell, the superbitch in Home and Away, played by Laurie Foell (pictured).

This almost gave credence to an industry rumour that when David Leckie, Seven's new boss, first toured the management offices, he expressed surprise that there were so many women, because he'd lived with a more macho culture at Channel Nine.

Still, female persons do have their uses. Thanks to the ghost of Angie, Monday's Home and Away beat the first daily episode of Big Brother, attracting 1.5 million viewers in the mainland capitals, against BB's 1.4 million. It continued this winning streak on Tuesday and Wednesday. A coalition of the juvenile and the geriatric viewers under 15 and over 40 clearly preferred to investigate the death of the superbitch over the chance to perv on eight claustrophobic twentysomethings.

But Seven's corporate publicist, Fleur Brown, was not around to spin the network's first good news of the year. She had left the building on Monday, along with Deb Quin , corporate marketing manager, and Lisa Sampson, chief of staff for Seven's former boss, Maureen Plavsic . They were given redundancy packages as part of Leckie's ``restructuring".

There will be more human sacrifices in the Seven bureaucracy before June 30, but none will make as great a contribution as Angie Russell. In a strategy to spoil Ten's launch of Big Brother, Seven slaughtered Angie on Home and Away last week and offered $25,000 to the viewer who could name the culprit. The contest got 300,000 entries and clearly helped H&A against the edited highlights version of BB at 7pm.

This is not to suggest that Big Brother is a flop. The ``live" game show version at 7.30 beat Nine's sitcom favourite Friends on Monday and Seven's lifestyle favourite, Better Homes and Gardens, on Tuesday (though it fell behind Nine's melodrama McLeod's Daughters on Wednesday).

Nine has stayed on top by rising above the squabbles between the second-string networks; Seven believes its cost-cutting is playing well with the share market; and Ten is delighted that people aged 16 to 39 are lapping up every permutation of Big Brother.It was a week when everybody in television was happy except a few sheilas.

Footnote: Two weeks ago this column made a rash offer: tell us what you watch and we'll tell you who you are, by analysing ratings data to test if your choice matches the conventional viewer profile. We got 54 emails, with three shows mentioned most often: The West Wing (our readers complained that Nine keeps changing the timeslot); Queer As Folk (readers mostly swore they were straight, or, in the case of one lady, ``straight-ish"); and The Simpsons (``it's not just for kids").

Sadly, The West Wing attracts only 460,000 viewers in the mainland capitals on Tuesdays, and Queer As Folk attracts 180,000 to SBS on Mondays. These audiences are so small that we can only declare with certainty that both shows appeal mainly to people aged between 16 and 39. The Simpsons, with 1.2 million viewers, appeals to boys and girls under 15 and males 16 to 39. For info on other beloved programs, you must wait till next week. You can still send the name of any show you are curious about to ddale@smh.com.au

Most watched, week to April 28
1       Big Brother - In they go (10)           2.2m
2       Nine News Sunday (9)            2.2m
3       Who Wants to be a Millionaire (9)       1.9m
4       60 Minutes (9)                  1.7m
5       Better Homes and Gardens (7)    1.7m
Source: OZTAM

Last weekend's box office               $m      Total
1  4    Lose a guy in 10 days   2.94    4.06
2  1    Anger Management        2.26    7.39
3  2    Johnny English          1.92    9.88
4  5    Jungle Book             .98     3.64
5  6    Kangaroo Jack           .79     3.06
Source: MPDAA

Top selling albums, week to April 21
1  1    Innocent Eyes (Delta Goodrem)
2  2    Come away with me (Norah Jones)
3  -    American Life (Madonna)
4  3    Meteora (Linkin Park)
Top single In Da Club (50 cent)
Source: ARIA
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