The most intriguing thing about Channel Ten's 2018 line-up is the shows they can't announce. At least, not until CBS takes over.
The American company is close to finalising its purchase of Australia's third-ranked commercial network. Until the deal is done, CBS cannot specify its plans. But it makes sense that management is already considering program ideas.
Industry sources believes reality and entertainment formats are the likely starting point, with scripted content also a possibility. It is understood these programs will use local cast and crews.
On Thursday, Ten revealed several new prime time series for 2018. But first: which shows are returning, and which have been axed?
MasterChef (including Gordon Ramsay and Nigella Lawson as guests)
I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! (first clue: "Two Aussie icons in the middle of Australia's biggest feud)
Survivor: Champions v Contenders (high-profile sportspeople and entertainers versus "ordinary" Aussies)
KFC Big Bash League
Rebel Women's Big Bash League
Have You Been Paying Attention?
The Living Room
Todd Sampson's Body Hack 2.0
"It's too early to make a decision on Sisters because only two episodes have gone to air," McGarvey says, "but there are some really [positive] signs. With The Wrong Girl, we're still looking at where the series could potentially go. And it's very unlikely we're going to have a new season of Offspring on Ten next year - but we're not saying you'll never see the Proudmans on Ten again."
Is an Offspring spin-off in the works? "Potentially, but we're still in the early stages of looking at that."
None of these dramas drew huge audiences this year - but McGarvey says overnight ratings are only half the story. Last year, 28 per cent of Offspring's audience watched the show within a week of broadcast; this year, it was 41 per cent. When it comes to dramas that start after 8.30pm, many viewers prefer to binge-watch on weekends. "That's OK, people watch show when they want to watch them ... but perhaps a half-hour program will be more digestible at that time."
Next year, Dr Chris Brown will co-host I'm a Celebrity, The Project and The Living Room - while new hosts are being considered for Bondi Vet.
NEW IN 2018
The Bachelor in Paradise: Former Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants (including Laurina Fleure, Keira McGuire, Apollo Jackson and Michael Turnbull) will look for love - again - with the help of Osher Gunsberg. "We've waited for eight seasons of The Bachelor and Bachelorette to get to Paradise," McGarvey says, "because we wanted an all-star cast to populate it." It's filmed on a tropical island but Ten isn't confirming the location, lest paparazzi try to spoil the results. Contestants who find romance get to stay; those who don't are booted off the island.
Blind Date: Australia had a version of Blind Date in the late 1960s, and that format was later adapted to Perfect Match - a hit on Ten in the '80s. Now, the network will launch a fresh season of Blind Date, based on the UK game show of the same name. Hosted by Julia Morris, each episode features a single person quizzing three potential partners. "It's an old school studio entertainment show."
Playing for Keeps: From the production company behind Underbelly - with writers from The Secret Life of Us and Offspring - comes a drama about "the women behind the men we barrack for on the footy field". Storylines will address affairs, groupies, paparazzi and harassment.
How to Stay Married: Lisa McCune and Peter Helliar star in this drama about a couple, stuck in a rut after 12 years of marriage. Just as he is made redundant, she returns to work for the first time since their children were born.
Street Smart: A half-hour scripted comedy, about a gang of inept criminals, starring Tahir Bilgic and Rob Shehadie. "It has a proper multicultural cast, and it's written by Tahir and Rob - you can hear their voices [in the writing]. People will be inclined to compare it to Here Come the Habibs!, but it feels very different."
Hughesy, We Have a Problem: The former Project and Before the Game co-host is back on Ten. Each week, guest comedians and entertainers try to solve "everyday problems", from infidelity to fights over the remote.
Russell Coight's All Aussie Adventures: Scheduled to air this year, but filming took longer than expected. Made by Working Dog Productions, it stars Glenn Robbins as the accident-prone outdoorsman.
The Secret Life of Four Year Olds: Based on a British format, this comedic documentary series examines the lives of a group of kindergarten-aged kids. "It's hard to grasp when you read about it, but you can get an idea by looking at [clips from the UK series] on YouTube."
Countless series never make it past the pilot episode, let alone to air. Next year, at the start of winter, Ten will broadcast the pilots of new Aussie programs. Depending on ratings, and the response from viewers, some will become fully-fledge series. "It's something that's done in Northern European markets," McGarvey says. "If we're going to invest significantly in broadcast-quality pilots, we might as well play them."
NEWS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS
Breakfast: Ten has no plans to put Lisa Wilkinson - or anyone else - into the early-morning slot, having already tested Breakfast and Wake Up as competitors to Sunrise and Today. "I would never say we wouldn't do it down the line," McGarvey says. "But are we genuinely looking at a breakfast show next year? We're really not." Lisa Wilkinson will co-host The Project two nights a week, with further plans for Ten's star recruit to be announced in January.
Eyewitness News: When Lachlan Murdoch and Bruce Gordon appeared likely to seize control of Ten - before being upstaged by CBS - a deal with Sky News was rumoured. This would have seen the 24-hour Foxtel channel producing news segments for Ten, or perhaps even a national bulletin. "That was never on the table as such, we were just working through the process of administration. Eyewitness News will keep going as it is ... there are no plans to make any material changes ... with the full resources of CBS behind us, expect big things from Eyewitness News [next year]."
KFC Big Bash League
Rebel Women's Big Bash League
Hyundai A League
Australian Formula One Grand Prix
Supercars Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000
NEW INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS
Instinct: Based on a bestseller by James Patterson, it stars a former CIA operative (Alan Cumming) who is now trying to live a "normal" life.
SEAL Team: Former Bones star David Boreanaz stars as Jason Hayes, leader of the most elite Navy SEAL team in the United States.
9JKL: Mark Feuerstein stars in a family comedy inspired by his own life, playing actor Josh Roberts, a new divorcee forced to move home to New York in order to regroup.
RETURNING INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS
NCIS: Los Angeles
NCIS: New Orleans
Wisdom Of The Crowd
The Graham Norton Show
"When people talk about SVOD [subscription video on demand], they talk up the US content," McGarvey says. "When it's on free-to-air TV, suddenly international content isn't flash. But there is still a significant place for it in our schedule. When you have the right show in the right timeslot at the right time of year, it can still do good business."