The hosts hadn’t changed – Andrew O’Keeffe & Sam Armytage still anchored the show, with Jessica Rowe & Simon Reeve continuing to join them at the desk. James Tobin returned to weather presenting duties, though his role expanded to include social media buzz. Other new segments included a dedicated medical spot just after the 8am news, a musical spot specifically for unsigned/independent artists (“Open Mic”), “Nanna’s Kitchen”, and an “Your Guest” segment where Australia’s big decision makers answer questions entirely crowd-sourced (the first guest was Federal Liberal Party MP Malcolm Turnbull).
For a first show with almost entirely new segments it went quite well, though it felt far too formal (particularly the first hour). Having James in the studio in a collared shirt and suit jacket while delivering the weather against a chromakeyed screen only played into this, and so it lost a lot of the relaxed atmosphere the show normally has – it is the weekend, after all. O’Keeffe could barely contain his skepticism at the “all new” tag, referring to it almost with derison a few times. That may need to be addressed before next Saturday.
Boland assured his twitter audience yesterday afternoon that “next weekend it will be a little more relaxed.” With too few laughs and lots of serious content, viewers could have been forgiven for thinking they’d slept through their Sunday and woken up to a re-staffed Monday Sunrise. The effort pushed into the weekend program shows that the Seven Network are serious about wanting to ensure they are number one both in ratings and emotionally for viewers, and that the bosses are willing to listen when Boland when he thinks something needs some work. That’s clout.