Australian Ninja Warrior may be a ratings hit, but it’s copped a string of disastrous reviews and secret scandals putting the future of the show in jeopardy.
Hosts Ben Fordham, Rebecca Maddern and Freddie Flintoff ’s commentary skills have been widely slammed as ‘woeful’, and sources tell New Idea that the show’s execs are now looking at luring big names from Australia and overseas to replace the line-up in the 2018 season.
While fans have called on legendary commentators Roy Slaven and HG Nelson to fill the besieged hosts’ shoes, there are a raft of possible names including Hamish Blake and Andy Lee, and even Shane Warne, who fit the bill.
‘The bosses didn’t want to invest a lot of money in big-name hosts for the first season until they knew whether the show was going to be a success,’ says a well-placed source.
‘They wanted to test the waters and see what the Australian public thought of the show before writing big pay cheques for the hosts – and that’s why they called on Rebecca, Ben and Freddie.
‘They’re all great at what they do, but commentating a show like this is just beyond their skills.
‘Rebecca is well known in AFL circles, but is pretty unknown to the rest of the country – while Ben is known as Karl Stefanovic’s fill-in on Today.’
A Ninja on-set insider also revealed Rebecca, 39, became renowned on the show for her diva-like behaviour.
‘She was very pedantic about her wardrobe and make-up, with a long list of demands that were unreasonable given the filming conditions,’ the source says.
New Idea understands that now the show’s doing well, Channel Nine are looking for new hosts and some big names.
‘They’re looking at anyone and everyone,’ the insider spills. ‘But at this stage, it looks like the current hosts could be booted from Australian Ninja Warrior for 2018.’
The scramble to find new stars follows a deafening wave of criticism for the current hosts after the show premiered.
Viewers flocked to social media to voice their disapproval about the ‘woeful’ and ‘horrific’ commentary. Others started social media campaigns to have commentating legends Roy and HG step into the hosts’ shoes – while TV critics took to the media to have their say on the Channel Nine commentators.
‘I’ve decided that the only way to watch Australian Ninja Warrior is with the sound turned off,’ News Corp national TV writer Colin Vickery wrote earlier this month.
For the full story, see this week’s New Idea – Out now.
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