Retiring federal Liberal Party cabinet minister Christopher Pyne is being wooed by ABC TV to take a starring role in a new program of his choice.
The high-profile Morrison Government minister set to leave parliament at the next election has even been mentioned as a possible replacement for Barrie Cassidy as host of the long-running Sunday morning political program Insiders.
The Bug understands the idea to recruit Pyne came from the national broadcaster’s new chair, Ita Buttrose, as a way to attract a bigger audience and to answer criticisms that the ABC is full of left-wingers.
“Ita has been throwing around programming ideas for Christopher like confetti. She’s really keen for him to come on board,” an ABC insider said.
“One idea would see a whole new program built around him called The Fixer. We’ve shot a pilot with Christopher (main picture) as he went around visiting people’s homes to fix problems like blocked toilets or broken pipes or windows and the like.
“It’s not the most original idea but it shows a side of Christopher people may not know exists – the hunky handyman who is very comfortable fiddling with big heavy tools.
“And political veteran Tony Abbott is being touted as his offsider should the former PM lose his seat of Warringalah at the upcoming election.
“The tension between the two when they’re on the job makes for great television.
“Ita also had Christopher audition for a possible new ABC version of Network 10’s popular Dancing With The Stars.
“If it goes ahead as a series the show would feature both Christopher and another soon-to-be-former federal minister Kelly O’Dwyer (pictured) as hosts.
“I’ve seen the pilot episode and it’s streets ahead of 10’s effort, although I think the working title of Mincing Poodles needs to be revisited.”
The Bug was also told Mr Pyne may end up playing a role in the ABC’s political coverage.
“Christopher himself quickly agreed when Ita put to him the possibility of taking over from Barrie Cassidy as host of Insiders,” the insider (not from Insiders) said.
“But I reckon that’s not gonna happen because Annabel Crabb has been going all out to convince everyone at the ABC from Ita down to give the job to her as part of a revamp of the program.
“Her lobbying has even involved her bringing key decision makers hot meals that she has supposedly made.
“Annabel is determined to host Insiders but also wants to broaden its reach to have the members of each week’s panel cook their own favourite breakfasts for her each Sunday morning.
“Ita apparently is interested in looking at how to make the show more accessible, and less elitist and insular.
“It has ultimately come down to including the cooking segments with Annabel as host, or keeping the existing format with Christopher.
“The third option was to go with a totally different host but drop the Insiders title and renaming it Pontificating Windbags to better reflect the content – and the usual panelists.
“I hear that Ita’s torn among all three ideas.”