Math, Tash and Tarsh: Boland reveals Wake Up lineup: ‘I was creatively bored at Sunrise’

Ten has revealed the title and lineup for its new daily breakfast show.

wakeup ten

From left: Exelby, Hafner, Boland, Belling and Mathison at the announcement

Wake Up will be presented by James Mathison, Natarsha Belling and Natasha Exelby from Queenscliff Surf Life Saving Club in Manly with Nuala Hafner reading the news from “a glass box” from a familiar Melbourne location.

The backdrop to the show will be a panoramic beach view.

The show will start before the end of the year, but fitting out the set at Manly is expected to take around two months. The network is also laying a fibre optic cable from Manly to Ten’s headquarters in Pyrmont so that vision from the seven cameras in Manly can be mixed from the control room at HQ.

Boss Adam Boland – who famously paired David Koch and Melissa Doyle for Sunrise – told a media briefing the lineup was reached after a fortnight of screen testing different presenter combinations. He said: “To me this feels like 2001 all over again.”

Referring to Ten’s failed Breakfast fronted by Kiwi Paul Henry and Kathryn Robinson, Boland said: “Chemistry is everything at breakfast. You only had to look at the last Ten Breakfast show to work that out. It was obvious what went wrong with that. It was probably obvious to the people at Channel Ten from 7am on the first morning.”

Boland will be in charge of Ten’s output from 5am to midday.

He was unclear about what time each day’s episode of Wake Up would start and end, although he hinted  there would be only about two months a year where the first few minutes of the show would have darkness outside – suggestion a start time of 6.30am.

The network has already announced an as yet unnamed mid-morning show which will be helmed by EP Rob McKnight. Two of the five panellists are Joe Hildebrand and Ita Buttrose with the remaining three as yet uncast. The show’s name is being decided through a social media competition.

During yesterday’s launch, Boland referred to there being “a series of shows we roll out”. He also suggested Wake Up and the mid-morning show would be “bookended” by two distinctive news bulletins, although he would not be drawn on their nature.

The key point of difference between Wake Up and the two established shows of Nine’s Today and Seven’s Sunrise is the non-studio setting. However, Boland also said that Wake Up’s news bulletins would be localised for individual states, something not offered by Sunrise or Today. He said: “We will be the only show in the market doing local news. I wanted to do it for five years at Sunrise.”

There will also be far fewer guests on each show. Boland said most pre-production for the show will be done in the early hours of the morning, rather than the day before, as Sunrise and Today work.

Boland said that the network is also investing heavily on tapping into social media for the show, including four social media producers.

Describing Sunrise and Today’s approach as “AM radio”, Boland said: “How do we do an FM version of a radio show on TV? How do we make the show physically look different? ”

Boland said that Sunrise and Today had now become so similar that viewers struggled to tell them apart, suggesting that the two shows ‘ close rating shave left either one unwilling to take a risk. He said: “From a viewer’s point of view, it’s like going into a supermarket and there’s just one product.”

He said he felt “creatively bored” by the end of his tenure with Sunrise. “Towards the end at Sunrsie there was not enough freedom in the format.”

Boland said that he’s been in the gym and when he looked at Sunrise and Today next to each other, for a few moments he was unable to tell them apart.

Manly council has told Ten it can hold concerts on the beach for up to 30,000 fans. Boland said much of the seafront will be wired for audio. He said: “We’re going to RF the whole beach.”

Boland predicted that he would make mistakes, saying: “I jumped the shark more than once (at Sunrise) and when you do, you just fix it.”

Of the four stars, Belling is a Ten veteran, mainly in news reading roles.

Mathison’s on air roles have included on Channel V and Australian Idol.

Exelby arguably has the lowest profile of the three presenters, having been a reporter and presenter with Ten since 2008. She drew headlines last month when she apologised for a giggling outbreak while reading a bulletin item about riots in Brazil after flirting with a guest.

Hafner made her name with Seven where she worked with Boland.

The announcement preceded a large party in Sydney last night which saw Ten relaunch its offering to the market. Labelling itself, the The New Ten, the network also offered viewers a first look at forthcoming drama Wonderland.

Tim Burrowes


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