Star’s meltdown threatens 7.30

SYDNEY: Tonight’s taping of the ABC flagship news and current affairs program 7.30 remains in doubt after a terrible meltdown by stand-in host Laura Tingle after last night’s screening.

My spies tell me a distraught Ms Tingle locked herself in the 7.30 studio after ordering all producing and technical staff off the set just after the show finished at 8pm.

She is still in there this morning, openly sobbing and frequently berating herself with language that would make a bullocky blush after a series of gaffes during last night’s show.

‘She simply can’t believe she has let herself – and the program – down so badly,” a 7.30 producer’s assistant told me.

“She repeatedly referred to the federal government’s proposed IR legislation as ‘reforms’, which she accepts is an absolute no-no from someone as old and as experienced as she is.

“Laura has been shouting over and over again: ‘Of course I fucking well know reforms means to improve things and I should have said ‘changes’. A first-year cadet would know that, you stupid, stupid (expletive deleted) of a bitch!’.

What probably brought Ms Tingle’s inexcusable errors into stark relief and helps explains her reaction is that only minutes earlier, 7pm news presenter Juanita Phillips and political reporter Andrew Probyn repeatedly used “changes” – as they should have done as true media professionals – to describe the proposed laws.

My spies tell me that staff outside the locked studio doors have been repeatedly telling Ms Tingle that one of the ABC’s News Breakfast Canberra-based reporting tyros earlier yesterday had repeatedly used ‘reforms’, including even at one stage ‘major reforms’.

Laura has been yelling back between sobs: “But she’s young and silly and has never won Walkley awards!”

Told this morning that Lisa Millar had also used “reforms” again today on News Breakfast, she shouted: “Well she’s still silly.”

I’m told that unless Ms Tingle can be lured out shortly, the ABC’s part-time carpenter who has been flown in from Melbourne as a precaution will attempt to replicate the 7.30 set in a nearby studio and regular presenter Leigh Sales will be rushed back to work.

The producer’s assistant tells me she hasn’t seen a ‘talent’ meltdown this bad since former ABC News Breakfast host Virginia Trioli was wrongly accused some years ago of mispronouncing Médecins Sans Frontières.