The Project rocked by mass exodus: The good, the bad and the ugly

😃 The Good: The Project refreshed with new faces

😔 The Bad: Major challenge facing The Project

😥 The Ugly: TV hosts cop 'horrible' trolling

There's been a massive shake-up of The Project, with host Carrie Bickmore announcing her shock exit before Lisa Wilkinson and Peter Helliar followed suit.

The show will be completely different when it hits screens again in the new year, and Australian entertainment reporter Peter Ford says the program will face new challenges.

The Project refreshed with new faces

It's time for a change. That is the opinion of TV insider Peter Ford, who says the show is due for a much-needed shake-up.

The program first aired in 2009 as The 7pm Project before being renamed The Project. Carrie Bickmore has been hosting the show from the very beginning, with Peter Helliar joining in 2014 and Lisa Wilkinson in late 2017.

Now with the three hosts moving on, Ford says it's now time for the show to have a shake-up, with Studio 10's Sarah Harris announced as Carrie's replacement.

"They still need to have some experienced hands so Sarah Harris is a great choice," the TV insider told Yahoo Lifestyle.

Waleed Aly and Sarah Harris stand side-by-side smiling.
The Project has announced Sarah Harris is set to replace Carrie Bickmore in 2023. Photo: Ten

Ford added Sarah was a "great get" and there would still be familiar faces such as Waleed Aly, Hamish McDonald and Georgie Tunny.

"I think [Georgie Tunny] has been groomed now for some time ... so I think she's a good new talent and I'm sure they've got others to come in," he said. "They needed to freshen it up properly, they've done some tweaking in the past so we'll see what happens and give it one last chance."


Ford told Yahoo Lifestyle it was promising Channel 10 didn't just axe the show and believed the name and brand were worth saving.

"They want to give it a red hot shot, a roll of the dice," he said.

The TV insider said the mass resignations gave Channel 10 a chance to liven up the show and let people know it will be a very different program next year.


The Project misses major opportunity

Ford says The Project as it stands has a "problem" with editorial decision-making and suggests that should be a focus going into the show next year.

The entertainment reporter said the show missed a crucial opportunity earlier this year after fill-in host Peter van Onselen clashed on-air with political reporter Amy Remeikis.

Amy was invited on the show to discuss Grace Tame's frosty meeting with former prime minister Scott Morrison during a morning tea for Australian of the Year finalists in January. After photos emerged, Peter penned a scathing column dubbing her "rude and childish".

The stoush between Peter and Amy on The Project was widely reported, and Ford said the show missed an opportunity for a follow-up on the program the next night.

"He never appeared [on the show] again," Ford said. "Editorial decisions like that are very peculiar and they just don't seem to know how to get the audience excited and shocked at the same time and that's unfortunate."

Peter van Onselen speaks with Carrie Bickmore on The Project.
Peter van Onselen did not reappear on The Project after an on-air stoush. Source: The Project

Ford added "fireworks and unpredictability" were crucial for a show where panellists discussed topics.

"The show always seems so scripted – you do that, I do this, Peter Helliar makes a joke," he said. "You're also supposedly doing a live show and big chunks are not live."

Ford added "content was king" and going forward The Project needed to consider that.

Speaking of the mass resignations, Ford said: "There was simply too much money going out and not enough ratings coming in."

According to TV Tonight, The Project ranked 18 with just 258,000 viewers on Tuesday night.

ABC's 7.30 program ranked 11 with 407,000 people tuning in while A Current Affair came in at number 5 with 578,000 viewers.


TV hosts cop 'horrible' trolling

Australian TV has had a shake-up this year with Leigh Sales, Lisa Wilkinson, Carrie Bickmore and Tracy Grimshaw all stepping down.

While Ford doesn't believe there is any connection between the resignations, both Lisa and Leigh cited the trolling they copped on social media.

"These four very talented and successful women aren't going to be there in the same way next year and that's extraordinary," he said. "For so long there was discussion around women being denied the right opportunities in the TV game. In years gone by so many talented women didn't get the opportunities and that's changed to a large degree but we're at the point where four hugely successful, talented women are saying, 'I don't want to do it anymore'."

Ford added Lisa had become a polarising figure during her time on The Project and copped 'horrible trolling' on social media.

Lisa Wilkinson resigns while appearing on The Project.
Lisa Wilkinson announced her shock resignation from The Project earlier this week. Source: The Project

Lisa came under fire after her Logies speech delayed the trial of the man accused of raping Brittany Higgins.

"The last six months have not been easy, and the relentless targeted toxicity in the media has taken a toll. Not just on me, but on people I love," she admitted, referencing the backlash she received following her infamous Logies acceptance speech

"Don't get me wrong, I'm not above criticism, far from it. I'm human, and I don't always get it right, none of us do, but by God, I've tried."

After Leigh quit ABC'S 7.30 in June, she told Stellar Magazine how the online trolling had impacted her. She added people had made threats against her and she was concerned the trolling could "translate into real-life violence".


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