Time to leave the party

Fans of MasterChef would recall the first season, because that's when most people fell in love with it. Along with Julie, Po, Justine and the others, there was another prominent woman in that season: Sarah Wilson, a journalist who ''hosted'' the show. This meant explaining the bleeding obvious, and doing so very slowly, while dramatic music flooded the background. ''Out of five votes, you have had two votes against you, and two votes for you. That is four votes. You have one more vote to go. That will make five votes. If it is against you, you will have to leave.''

The producers decided to get rid of Wilson after one season, which she said was a mutually agreeable decision. Of course, she was considerably more attractive than any of the judges (something most of us, male or female, could happily agree with), but her presence was otherwise pointless. Instead, Wilson went straight on to the highest calling of any writer in Australia, by becoming a Fairfax columnist.

For centuries (or close enough), television producers have rid themselves of characters and stars who were unnecessary to the show. Wilson was a real-life version of Chuck, Richie and Joanie's big brother in the first season of Happy Days. He went missing after nine episodes, and was never mentioned again.

I'm pretty sure I saw some of that season, but I can't remember Chuck, so maybe the producers had a point when they cut him.

However, as a slightly older child, I would enjoy The A-Team, and recall the first season when the team included Amy Allen, who (like most leading ladies in 1980s US television shows) wasn't as colourful as the boys, but made up for it by looking like a supermodel. At least, I think I remember Amy, but I might have imagined her. Whenever I reminisce about this series with other guys, they have no recollection of her, even though she was in the highest-rating season.

Concerned that I might have false memories, I checked up any version of the opening credits I could find on YouTube. No sign of Melinda Culea, the actor who (allegedly) played Amy. Happily, the Internet Movie Database proved that I wasn't going insane.


For those who recall the series fondly, but can't recall Amy (and that seems to be most of you), she wasn't a Vietnam vet like the others, but a feisty journalist. Weren't they all? Well before Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb were lighting up our screens, TV heroines were already journalists. But she had one more thing in common with Lois Lane, Sarah Jane Smith, Mindy McConnell and, er, Sarah Wilson. She was introduced as a supporting character, forbidden to upstage the male hero(es). Amy was billed as Amy ''Amelia'' Allen. While the rest of the A-Team had cool nicknames (Hannibal, the Face, ''Howling Mad'' and ''Bad Attitude''), her nickname was just the full version of her actual name, which is less cool.

Amy was removed because one of the male stars (George Peppard) didn't think she was needed. It was a show for boys, and of course the last thing boys want to see every week is an attractive woman.

Much as I hate wasting a column moaning about TV stars, here are a few who should be offered a redundancy package.

1. RICHARD WILKINS: This guy has been a TV personality since the '80s. Almost nobody lasts that long on Australian television. As far as I can tell, his main jobs are interviewing other entertainment journalists about what's happening (surely the regular Today hosts can do that), introducing movie trailers so the studios can get some free advertising, and doing shallow, meaningless interviews with Hollywood stars. Of course, he also does the red carpet at the Oscars. Just after September 11, 2001, when nobody was doing the red carpet as a sign of respect, he was still flown over to an empty entrance to say, ''Look, there's nobody here,'' or words to that effect. They flew him to Hollywood for that?

2. PIERS AKERMAN: Some of the political pundits on Insiders are left-leaning, some are right-leaning and some (actually, most) are centrist. Then there's Akerman, who's religious, anti-Labor and pro-Liberal. We know what he's going to do: attack Julia Gillard and declare his love for Tony Abbott. What's the point of hearing the obvious? Even with Gillard trying desperately to appeal to conservatives and News Limited readers, he still finds a reason to attack her, thereby going against every principle in which he claims to passionately believe. There are plenty of intelligent, analytical conservatives out there. (No, I don't mean Andrew Bolt.) Can't we use them instead?

3. LITTLE TED: Just as they got rid of Hamble years ago (perhaps realising she didn't have as much personality as Jemima), it's time Little Ted left Play School after 47 years. He never says anything, he never does much, and with the almost identical Big Ted playing almost the same role, he is truly redundant.

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