Get over it, Eddie’s new hosting duty isn’t controversial
Of all the surprises that 2020 has forced upon us the last one is surely the most shocking of all: Carols by Candlelight has somehow become controversial. And it stands out, given we are absorbed by COVID-19 coverage and what the virus means for Christmas.
Heads were turned and eyebrows raised when it was announced over the weekend that Eddie McGuire would be replacing David Campbell as host of the signature Christmas fixture because the latter cannot travel from Sydney due to Victoria's restrictions.
Carols by Candlelight is quintessentially Melbourne and Eddie Everywhere is the ultimate Mr Melbourne. Sure he goes for Collingwood but there are treatments for that. In the meantime, we pray for a cure.
Many Melburnians have expressed great relief that the Sidney Myer Music Bowl will be graced by the Boy from Broadmeadows instead of a Sydney blow-in.
But others have been less kind. One Twitter user said: "The chances of my tuning in have gone from nada to zip." And that was from a church reverend!
This divine intervention is a compelling insight into the nature of TV audiences. So often online commentary is seen as a yardstick of popular opinion but in fact, as the dear reverend notes, he was never going to watch the show anyway. Now he's simply not going to watch it even more.
McGuire is also a case in point. He is regularly pilloried on social media yet the Triple M breakfast show he helmed until announcing his retirement recently was regularly number one in the FM ratings. Listeners don't shout, they listen.
And he still pulls the best part of half a million viewers for his Millionaire Hot Seat show. Seven typically beats him with The Chase but it's still a close-run thing.
Both are unlikely metrics for a bloke that, were you to view only social media commentary, is close to the most hated man in Australia. In fact it is just more evidence that popular sentiment is usually the direct opposite of whatever Twitter is saying.
McGuire, like Kyle Sandilands - or me for that matter - is often branded as controversial, but if you spend 20 hours a week talking live on air the chances are you will be controversial to someone somewhere. If you're not the chances are you're a pretty dull person.
And so as someone who does watch Carols by Candlelight every year I'll be more than happy to watch Eddie doing the hosting.
I just hope he doesn't sing.
Joe Hildebrand is the host of Summer Afternoons on 2GB and 4BC
Originally published as Get over it, Eddie's new hosting duty isn't controversial