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MasterChef in limbo as Channel 10 in crisis after Jock Zonfrillo’s death

Jock sadly passed away in the early hours of Monday morning, the day the show was supposed to air its season 15 premiere.

Channel 10 and Endemol Shine have reportedly been "thrown into crisis meetings" following the shock sudden death of MasterChef's Jock Zonfrillo on the day the show was set to premiere its latest season.

A TV insider has revealed to Yahoo Lifestyle, "Channel 10 and Endemol were thrown into crisis meetings, with bosses unsure if it's appropriate to still air the new season."

Another source tells us that those working on the show were told to go home early on Monday and have been given the option of taking Tuesday off. They add that there is still six weeks of editing left on the show.

MasterChef's Andy Allen, Jamie Oliver, Jock Zonfrillo and Mel Leong
Channel 10 has been 'thrown into crisis meetings' following the shock passing of MasterChef's Jock Zonfrillo on the day of the show's premiere. Photo: Ten

The insider shares that Endemol Shine had previously organised a staff screening of their new show The Summit to be held this morning at a cinema, however, it was cancelled in light of the shocking news.

While the show is likely to air eventually, the timeline is unclear, and it's believed it will not be airing anytime soon, the Daily Telegraph reports.

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"It is not something you can get wrong so they will take their time," a source told the publication, adding there was "no precedent" for this situation and a tribute special may be in production.

The network is reportedly in no rush to make a decision on who will step into Jock's position on MasterChef for the 2024 season.

In place of MasterChef, Ten aired a repeat of the show The Bridge Australia, a reality show which first aired last year and is narrated by Hugo Weaving.

Project hosts share tributes

On The Project, which would have aired directly before MasterChef, hosts Waleed Aly and Sarah Harris revealed Jock was supposed to be on the desk with them ahead of the show's season premiere.

Sarah shared touching stories about Jock, admitting to viewers that it was "hard to process his death".

Jock Zonfrillo
Jock's sudden passing shocked Australia on Monday. Photo: Ten

“This is a bloke who had four kids, young children as well,” she said sadly. “I remember on the many times he popped into Studio 10 when I was hosting that show in the mornings, he was always so affable with the crew, and would take time to talk to everyone.

“He would always get you to the side and show you pictures of his kids, because he was just so immensely proud of him and of his beautiful wife, Lauren. He was never without his worry beads,” she added.

Sarah pointed out that Jock was so ‘vulnerable’ and open about suffering from anxiety, something that was so unusual for a man in the public eye.

“I love this about him. Despite the fact that he was this kind of manly Scot, and drank whisky, he knew that there was power in vulnerability, and he really worked to normalise anxiety, and he said he would keep those beads on him at all times, and really pressed the beads when the anxiety got too much,” she said.

Waleed agreed, telling viewers that the “scale of the loss is hard to express”. He fondly remembered Jock as a “gentle soul”, which he added can be unusual in the media industry.

Jock's co-hosts Andy Allen and Melissa Leong are said to be 'devastated'. Photo: Getty
Jock's co-hosts Andy Allen and Melissa Leong are said to be 'devastated'. Photo: Getty

“In this industry, it’s fair to say that not everyone is gentle, it’s not a personality that tends to be an advantage.

“There is a time that he was here in this chair, and that was the thing that really stood out to me, there was just something about him. Vulnerable is the right word, but it is something a bit deeper than that, and he is a guy who has been through much,” he said.

Melissa Leong and Andy Allen 'devastated'

Entertainment editor Angela Bishop confirmed that Jock had been in Italy with his family before his death and had only returned to Australia to “fulfil publicity commitments” for MasterChef’s new season.

She revealed how his co-hosts Melissa Leong and Andy Allen reacted to the news.

“They would work, 14, 15, 16-hour days together for weeks on end to do each season of MasterChef, you couldn’t find closer workmates and confidants than Andy, Jock and Mel,” she said.

“They are devastated, broken is the word that was used to me. They’re simply like so many of us trying to process this news.”

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