Alarm bells first sounded at the network when Dan Webb and Jessika Power seemingly broke up during broadcast of Talking Married, as they were probed by Shelly and her co-hosts Jayne Azzopardi and Ben Fordham.
The inflammatory and unscripted incident led to the couple pulling out of further media engagements planned for the following morning.
A source alleged to TV Blackbox that the situation caused alarm bells to ring, and the axing was ‘out of concern for the mental health of those involved’.
While MAFS has been a major success for Nine, it has come at a cost. According to Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, Nine CEO Hugh Marks allegedly expressed concerns about some of the lowbrow antics on the show potentially damaging the network’s image.
‘All reality TV pushes limits but I am concerned they are going one step too far and it is going to all collapse and that’s not good for the industry,’ the paper quoted an unnamed TV executive as saying.
‘We have never seen conduct like this on Australian television before.’
The axing of Talking Married appears to represent a further attempt to manage any potential damage from the franchise, which has already been the subject of complaints by ex-contestants who allege they were exploited and exposed to abuse and ridicule from the public due to the show’s notoriously produced narratives.