Ben Elton’s Live From Planet Earth dead and buried in the ratings

Ben Elton’s second outing for Live From Planet Earth put in an even worse performance on Tuesday night with an average audience of just 384,000 according to preliminary overnight metro ratings from OzTam.

The heavily promoted live comedy show show rated 455,000 on its debut last week.

Last night’s poor result will raise serious questions about whether the show – a production by Fremantle Media – can remain in the schedule.

The show was 27th for the day, beaten by the likes of Seven’s Sunrise and Ten’s The Bold And the Beautiful. Last week it was 22nd.

The show continued to shed viewers throughout, falling from an opening 15 minutes of 469,000 to just below 250,000 at the end.


In the previous week, the show’s audience in the last 15 minutes was just below 300,000.

However, Live from Planet Earth may also have been affected by inheriting a smaller audience from Top Gear. Last week Top Gear averaged 939,000 while last night it brought in 792,000.

At the time of posting Nine had not returned Mumbrella’s call about whether the show would be in next week’s schedule.


  1. nickatnights
    16 Feb 11
    9:33 am

  2. Pity. At least it was live television and provided employment for Australian comedians.

  3. Bert Maverick
    16 Feb 11
    9:40 am

  4. This has had a lot of money spent on it based on the humour of only one man – Ben Elton. The format is fine, the talent seems quite good, but EVERY SINGLE JOKE on this show is written by Elton, meaning that everything, no matter who plays it out, has a Ben Elton flavour. His stand-up delivery is dated – he hasnt evolved in 30 years.
    Channel 9 would be well served to give Elton control but let some other (Aussie writers) get some material on the show.
    Without it, this show is doomed.

  5. macsmutterings
    16 Feb 11
    10:02 am

  6. I checked it out last night, god awful, was embarrassing to watch

  7. Partizan
    16 Feb 11
    10:16 am

  8. I agree that the program needs some work, but it needs time to find its feet. I really think we are wanting to see programs fail, the media especially need a program to beat up in the first week of ratings. It can develop into a good vehicle for young Australians to perform comedy live, currently our talent pool is pretty thin so we need to give Mr Elton credit for trying.

  9. duddas
    16 Feb 11
    10:36 am

  10. I turned over to another station before the first ad break. I thought the first episode was ok so gave it another look but never again. What a “stinker” maybe I just had high hopes for a Ben Elton show. Once upon a time he was a funny man to watch..

  11. gayeperth
    16 Feb 11
    10:42 am

  12. I thought last night was a great show. I’m sure it will only get better, if it’s given a chance. I thought Ben Elton did a great performance. His material was current, funny and intelligent. The sketches were good and the show had variety.
    Bert made a fair comment about having some other writers involved. A team of heads with Ben at the helm would come up with amazing material.
    (I am available)
    There’s no disputing,Ben Elton has a brilliant mind and for those who can’t see it….Open your eyes.
    I really hope this is given the chance it deserves. I wish Twitter would twit off.

  13. Tim2
    16 Feb 11
    11:00 am

  14. My viewing matched these figures as I fell asleep.

  15. Tom
    16 Feb 11
    11:01 am

  16. After hearing how bad the rating were I watched it last night (felt bad for the guy). It wasn’t great but I’ve seen worse – about as good as Rove was toward the end.

    Fiona O’Loughlin wasn’t bad, Tim Minchin too. I like the idea of the interviewer but she needs better victims – Chris Smith was too nice a guy – she needs a guest where she can burst the bubble of their pomposity – or at least someone who talks a bit louder.

    I think Elton is out of practice as a stand up and tbh I was never a big fan – I think he needs someone to collaborate with. Best of luck with the rest of the series.

    On a positive – the girl singing in the sketch with the rapper was hot :)

  17. Mark Hoota
    16 Feb 11
    11:02 am

  18. Australian television doesn’t get much of a chance in this country does it. 2 episodes to air and the headline reads “Dead and Buried”! Wow. So much for giving a show some time to develop an audience.
    Hopefully channel 9 won’t be as cynical and reactionary as the Australian Press (who wont be happy until they have killed off all Australian television and have nothing left to write about)

  19. Mal
    16 Feb 11
    11:02 am

  20. Commercial channels haven’t produced anything local and funny for a long time (unless they poach already existing ABC talent/shows). It’s all just bad wigs and poo jokes – plus it’s the same tired old crappy comedians on every single show.

    Give me ABC (and to an extent SBS) comedies any day.

    Big Commercial skit shows of late:
    Life From Planet Earth
    The Footy Show/s
    Big Bite
    Comedy Inc
    The Wedge

    ABC skit shows:
    CNNNN/Chaser Decides/ War On Everything etc…
    Review with Myles Barlow
    Micallef Show
    Chris Lilley’s shows

  21. Anno Domini
    16 Feb 11
    11:13 am

  22. I thought the second program was excellent. Ben Elton is so witty and clever AND he sees the flaws in many facets of life.
    I hope he can keep on with the show because I have been a fan for many years and will remain so.

  23. Timbo
    16 Feb 11
    11:24 am

  24. Ronnie Corbett has found a way to stay true to his old-style one liners and even today pull a huge audience and be freakin’ hilarious… Ben, sorry dude, you’re just not that funny.

  25. Eek
    16 Feb 11
    11:25 am

  26. Personally I thought he spent too long trying to defend himself last night. Noticed a lot of little changes that they made too in regards to the negative feedback from last week – like the two schoolgirls weren’t in Kylie Mole school outfits this week. At least they’re listening and trying to fix it I guess. But there’s not much of a pulse.

  27. NSWFF
    16 Feb 11
    11:39 am

  28. I watched both shows all the way through and although the first one mostly fell flat I thought last night’s show was an improvement, with some topical original material. The support cast showed talent and the format was original. Given time I believe this show could develop into soemthing good, and as has been pointed out it is also a vehicle to develop new local talent and provides jobs for Australians.

    Unfortunately it all seems to be about instant ratings these days. Many shows historically have taken time to find their audience and it’s a pity if this one were to be scrapped before it’s had a proper chance.

  29. inq
    16 Feb 11
    11:40 am

  30. @gayeperth I’d like to see t work… but Ben is a massively prolific writer. He works best when not at the helm. Did you see Maybe Baby? The book, Inconceivable, was excellent. The film version, which he directed, was one of the worst ever made for every reason imagineamble (casting, editing, directing… jeez).

    It is innovative and it would be great to be given a chance. But it’s not working, and needs drastic and immediate action before all the sharks scent blood.

  31. Richard Owen
    16 Feb 11
    12:07 pm

  32. Oh come on, compared to the American sitcoms which are terrible, this show is brillant, take a chance, instead of depending on pre recorded laughter.

  33. Drew
    16 Feb 11
    12:44 pm

  34. Ben Elton has a body of work that few on the planet could rival and he could be easily be sitting around getting fat on his royalties.. But no, he is taking a risk developing Australian talent in arguably one of the most difficult ways possible – Live TV. We hardly have a TV industry in Australia, the only reason we do not have 100% foreign programs is because of Federal content laws ensuring at least there is something Australian reflected back at us on our TV’s. Ben Elton has adopted this as his country and he is putting his weight behind some fresh talent. It is a shame that we can’t reflect back that Australian attitude we supposedly pride ourselves in – ‘giving it a fair go’ – rather than expecting, edited manicured American TV perfection on the screen all the time. Go Hard Ben! PS no doubt the authors of this website will be happy to see their headline vindicated though if things go pear sheaped – but then again a site focused on Marketing is only going to care about the numbers.

  35. FredZed
    16 Feb 11
    12:47 pm

  36. I thought the 2nd show was hilarious – I had fits of laughter many times! (Especially loved the parody of pop-rap songs in the middle of the show!)

    I have a feeling there’s a bit of “follow the sheep” effect here – since the first show, it’s become “trendy” to “attack” Ben Elton – doing that makes you really “baaaaa-d” (i.e. cool).

    I feel sorry for Australia!

  37. David
    16 Feb 11
    12:51 pm

  38. The crew that did “Let Loose Live” last two weeks and rated twice as much.

  39. Anonymous
    16 Feb 11
    1:20 pm

  40. If he hadn’t been so greedy, and employed a team of writers, it would have been a success

  41. Adam Paull
    16 Feb 11
    1:34 pm

  42. Comedy shows (all TV shows really) need time to find their feet, but unfortunately this one will never have that chance. Shame, since there really is a need for more local comedy, particularly on commercial networks, and the exposure and experience to a largely fresh-faced acting troupe can’t be a bad thing.

    It was interesting to watch the show with Twitter last night – all the really “witty” tweets about how awful the show was seem to come within the first few minutes of the show starting. It was as if the clever-dicks wanted to get their witticisms out before somebody else beat them to it – the clever tweets that the tweeterati had no doubt been thinking about all week. With much of the negative tweets and re-tweets coming before the show really had a chance to kick into gear, I wonder how much of the criticism came from people who didn’t actually watch the show but from Tweeters wanting to get in on the act?

    For the record, I laughed quite a few times… I was happy to see more political sketches (that is what Elton’s famous for after all) and more references to topical events – there’s no point being live if the comedy could have been written months ago which most of the first episode appeared to be.

    It still needs a lot of work, but it does show promise. If I were Nine, since most of the budget would have been spent, I’d pre-record the rest of the shows and screen late on a Saturday night with a Sunday night repeat on Go. Hopefully, when the next four episodes are in the can, they may have something ready for prime-time next time around.

    That, or flush all that money down the toilet.

    My guess is for the latter…

  43. Jack White
    16 Feb 11
    1:38 pm

  44. So much positivity for a show that doesn’t rate.

  45. Daryl Keith
    16 Feb 11
    1:46 pm

  46. Benny Hill’s funnier.

  47. Scott
    16 Feb 11
    1:48 pm

  48. nickatnights – comedians? where?

  49. Blondie
    16 Feb 11
    2:03 pm

  50. What’s wrong with all you complainers? Ben Elton is brilliant, funny and clever. Every member of the cast is talented. The Elaine Front interview is hilarious. I’m happy to watch every week for some clever light entertainment which is topical. Give the guy a break.

  51. Linda
    16 Feb 11
    2:04 pm

  52. Tim Minchin was the highlight of last night’s show, but we had to endure dated 1970s style skits before Tim appeared. I was waiting for the re-appearance of Col’n Carpenter – the show had many Fast Forward moments. I did get some giggles through from Girl Flat.

  53. Sam Stephens
    16 Feb 11
    2:14 pm

  54. Got home after working late and finally found something on tele worth watching. Missed the first episode but boy if people are complaining they are possibly really peeved about something he said. Seems its a show that has many attributes and will evolve into a regular watch for me. Nice to see something that I can have a chuckle to that is made in my own backyard. That Julia Gillard impersonation was the funniest I’ve ever seen. Thank you Ben for persisting with your audience. Big fan.

  55. rufus
    16 Feb 11
    2:57 pm

  56. More flat jokes than funny ones, but I hope ch9 sticks with it, and forces Elton to bring more writers on board. Lack of writing talent is what causes most TV shows to fail. But for god’s sake, it least it’s not another cooking show, reality show, or cooking-reality show.

  57. NSWFF
    16 Feb 11
    3:23 pm

  58. @FredZed, have to agree 100%, the Pop-Rap parody was a highlight of the show last night. The girl ‘pop’ singer (Michelle?) is very hot and has a voice better than most Australian Idol performers. The ‘rapper’ character was also well done and it came as a real surprise when it was revealed at the end that the ‘rapper’ was really a girl too! Great local talent, I don’t care what anyone says. Give them a chance to bloom.

  59. YOO
    16 Feb 11
    3:24 pm

  60. Terrible, not funny, all over the place, rubbish.

  61. Tom
    16 Feb 11
    3:28 pm

  62. Thanks Timbo, that Ronnie Corbett sketch was hilarious! I wonder which channel’s going to snap that one up?

  63. Nigel
    16 Feb 11
    3:35 pm

  64. Judging by all the comments, folk still watch TV! Not that the sellers of ‘New Media’ want to hear that!

  65. Pierre
    16 Feb 11
    3:42 pm

  66. You may not be funny Ben, but my god, you’re a genius in the well-chosen parallel department. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve confused your work with Shakespeare, and as for the feverish criticism you endured via the hive-mind known as Twitter, well that clearly is up there with the worst excesses of Nazi Germany.

  67. CK Cash
    16 Feb 11
    4:25 pm

  68. Queue trumpet….waa waa

  69. Anonymous
    16 Feb 11
    4:39 pm

  70. The ‘humour’ is so old hat. Ben should try living in a more sophisticated state, or sample another milieu in West Australia. The teenagers are a reflection of ‘jamie’ (summerheights High.) Furthermore, we don’t like cockneys criticising our Prime Minister’s accent. with the material he used. He might call it satire. We call it political bias reflecting Channel 9’s flavour. Otherwise, Ben, is a great soul who could give us wonderful insight into ourselves and our shallowness..

  71. Tone
    16 Feb 11
    4:45 pm

  72. Barbara from Bank World is hilarious in 30 second bites. When she’s in a different wig and trying to stretch the character out over 7 minutes, not so much.

  73. steve
    16 Feb 11
    8:29 pm

  74. havent seen it and it dont sound like im missin out on much, give me a go i reckon i could knock out beta stuff than half the crap n bollox that gets air time an a audiance these days, oh yeh an am sick o being of “no fixd adress” cheers to you steve, n.f.a.

  75. Kev
    16 Feb 11
    9:13 pm

  76. Pierre I love it when you spend your time trying to ridicule a comedian for not being funny with your own brand of awful humour. I can’t imagine what an hour of your ‘humour’ would sound like…he didn’t compare himself to Shakespeare in the way that you are insinuating. Your writing however is flawless as well as humourless.

  77. Brendan
    16 Feb 11
    9:29 pm

  78. After having watched the first two shows, I can’t see where all the negativity is coming from. Maybe the show needs a different night/time-slot as a few have suggested? (Maybe even a different channel??)

    Elton has taken a huge, gutsy risk in going ‘live’ but maybe as Adam P suggests – prerecording might be an option for the remainder? That said, I prefer the rawness of a live show. Elton did actually take a swipe at canned, contrived American sit-coms, as indeed he did of the so-called twitterati.

    The fact that he had to verbally tag a couple of the skits with “SATIRE” probably says more about his audience than it does about his material??

    I hope the show continues to grow – if for no other reason but to give all connected a fair go.

  79. TBear
    17 Feb 11
    12:13 am

  80. A month after the Poms beat us in the Ashes we get a Pom, with a whining Pommy voice and Pommy phrasing (bleed’in, flipp’in, etc) pretending to be an Australian, telling stale jokes about Mars Bars on prime time television?

    WTF are they smoking at 9?

    It is God-Awful stuff and is beyond saving.

    Elton’s not funny. He tries too hard.

    He sounds like, looks like, minces like a try-hard Pom.

    Get him off …

  81. Mal
    17 Feb 11
    8:01 am

  82. To all those who are using the fact that Elton ‘took a risk’ or ‘is doing something no one has done before’ as an excuse for the show; why?

    He ‘took a risk’ and it turned out to be a terrible one. I don’t think he needs applause for it. Surely if Elton’s head wasn’t so far up his own behind he could’ve seen that this wasn’t a very well calculated risk. If he honestly thinks that more than 1% of the population would find any part of his scripts funny then he’s even further past it than I’d imagined.

    I wanted to watch the show for the shear train-wreck value of it – but even then it was so hard to stomach. I felt like I was watching the sketches of a bunch of Year 10 drama students, and not very good ones at that.

    Lastly, for all those claiming Elton’s past brilliance from gems such as Blackadder. The first season (and concept) of Blackadder was written by Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis. The subsequent (and IMHO worse) seasons were CO-written by Elton and Curtis. It still took the comedic brilliance of Atkinson to make them funny.

    Please let this show die and bring back Warnie – it showed more promise. 😉

  83. Mark
    17 Feb 11
    1:05 pm

  84. I thought the 2nd show was fantastic. I didn’t see too many “bad wigs” and I don’t recall a single “poo joke”. Instead there were heaps of laugh out load moments.

    I do not understand this sink the boot in mentality. Especially from people who by their own admission haven’t watched with an open mind. eg. “I wanted to watch the show for the shear train-wreck value of it”. A classic example of having your mind made up beforehand.
    How about we give the show a chance eh?

    And, IMHO of course, the last season of Blackadder (Blackadder goes forth) was the best of the lot.

  85. Paul Ryan
    17 Feb 11
    8:25 pm

  86. Love the show, love the format and Ben is at his very best. Great material from clearly a talented comedian. The show is a fantastic opportunity to see and develop Australian comedians and I am appauled at the negativity towards a show in its infancy. There was certainly more to like than dislike and Bens stand up alone is worth tuning in for.

  87. Reg
    17 Feb 11
    11:43 pm

  88. I quite liked the show. Anyone know the name of the make up whereing bloke that sang the song about having a baby? Hilarious

  89. Jonny Tisdall
    18 Feb 11
    9:43 am

  90. Refreshing to have Ozzie humour which is pertinent to our culture NOT American style canned humour! Good guests and well executed skits on current topics.
    C’mon Australia, give the guy a go?

  91. paddyboy
    18 Feb 11
    10:29 am

  92. I watched the 2nd show to see what all the fuss was about after its debut. I was pleasantly surprised after all the negativity from previous week. Elton is a great stand up comedian, his stuff was funny, relvant and witty. The Julia skit was hillarious, the “ANZ” interviwer was great, but the victim was wooden; and the girl skit was not half bad. For some reason people are death riding this show before it’s had a chance to gain traction.

  93. Fin
    18 Feb 11
    4:14 pm

  94. I think Ben is great, and has written some classic comedy over the years. I feel a bit uncomfortable watching as he works around the Australian socio-political references… it just doesn’t seem to flow naturally for him. Feels like he’s writing material based on what he thinks “Australians” will laugh at rather than what he thinks is funny. Should just be his old pomme self… and if half of the audience doesn’t get it then so be it, but enough will.

  95. trev
    21 Feb 11
    9:55 pm

  96. maybe now 9 might realize that hey hey its saturday pulling in around 6 to 900,000 on a saturday night isnt so bad after all. i agree, bens show should be given a chance, but hey hey should also be returned later this year, keep our talent in employment.

  97. trev
    21 Feb 11
    9:56 pm

  98. sorry about the previous message, my keyboards stuffed, half a sentence was missed.

  99. hatingthetwitterhaters
    22 Feb 11
    2:19 pm

  100. If the 7PM Project is still on, anything should be able to survive Twitter.

    Also, if the ratings are significant to anyone, which they shouldn’t be, well, at least Ben’s show rated higher than George Negus’s show (not that I’m happy about that either, as I happen to like George, too, but the point still stands, in defence of Elton) .

    Elton’s show may not yet be adding much to 9’s claim to be the “Home of Laughter”, but like Shaun Micallef, Ricky Gervais, S.B.Cohen etc, Elton has never been *just* a comedian, nor a ‘standard’ one. So dissers, shut up, & grow a brain (well, the ones that aren’t just deliberate trolls/flamers anyway).

  101. Jo
    22 Feb 11
    11:24 pm

  102. It’s easy to sit on the sofa and criticise. At least Ben is trying something different. I love it. And if you don’t like it, switch over to a generic Mcsitcom and leave the rest of us to enjoy something fresh in peace.
    Go Ben!!!

  103. gayeperth
    23 Feb 11
    6:57 pm

  104. I’m a fan and will watch it every week. I’m with you Jo and Hating the twitter hater. For all the miserable whingers, if you’ve nothing nice to say turn off and bore yourself to death.