The Nine Network plans a major revamp of its main Sydney evening news bulletin for 2020.
Network executives, fresh from reinstating previously sacked Today breakfast show co-host Karl Stefanovic, have turned their attention to lifting the audience of the main 6pm Sydney Nine News.
The plan involves sacking current newsreader Peter Overton (at left above) and replacing him with the legendary Brian Henderson (at right above).
Henderson, who started reading weekend news at Nine in 1957 before taking over the 6pm weeknight bulletin in 1964, retired in 2002 and Overton has read the 6pm Sydney news since 2009.
A Nine Network insider said news of the News upheaval had come as a surprise to Overton who innocently believed he was due very soon to sign a five-year contract renewal.
“Since the news was broken to Peter he has swung between complaining to station management, pleading with them to renew his contract, and loudly abusing Brian — his former friend and mentor — in his absence within Nine’s corridors,” an insider said.
“Peter even staged his own ‘strike’ and refused to emerge from make-up for the best part of an hour. Unfortunately for him, nobody noticed.
“He’s also been making deliberate errors on air in pronunciations and grammar, but again, nobody has noticed anything out of the ordinary.
“It’s also suspected that Peter is the one who put a commode behind the news desk supposedly in preparation for Hendo’s return.
“Management also believe that Peter is behind an attempted negative leak to Sydney newspapers alleging Brian Henderson was dyeing to return to TV, but he failed to explain the spelling so all the gossip columnists just agreed and hung up on him.
“It’s sad because the changes revolving around Karl Stefanovic and Brian Henderson are not the only moves the network bosses are planning as they continue their plans to strengthen Nine’s future and its reputation for innovative programming.
“If Peter had behaved himself he might have had a chance at being the new host for the return of Hey, Hey, It’s Saturday from early 2020.
“Now it looks like they’ll be forced to run with Daryl Somers, although some at senior levels in the network still want the host to be Plucka Duck.”
Meanwhile, the 88-year-old Henderson said he was looking forward to returning to the news desk.
“I started reading news just after TV started in Australia,” he recalled. “I enjoyed my years behind the news desk and if I can help Nine expand its audience, I’m happy to do it again.”
When asked about Overton’s obvious displeasure at his return, Henderson was philosophical.
“Well, that’s the way it is,” he said.