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Thursday, 31 May 2012

TF1 prime time news anchor Laurence Ferrari quits

TF1's prime time news anchor Laurence Ferrari will bid farewell to viewers on Thursday evening.

Laurence Ferrari (screenshot TF1 news)

She's off to pastures new(ish), returning to work for the Canal + group with a talk show on Direct 8 which will, in her words, "give her more freedom" and where she'll be able to "bring her experience and personality" - something Ferrari feels she has been unable to do at TF1.

It's hardly the end of an era for French television as the 46-year old has only been presenting TF1's prime time news since September 2008.

That pales somewhat into insignificance compared to the length of tenure of her predecessor, Patrick Poivre d'Arvor (PPDA), who had been doing the job for donkeys years - well 21 of them to be precise.

But her decision came as something of a surprise apparently and the channel now has to look for a replacement.

That of course means speculation is rife and the "usual suspects" are being put forward as potential successors.

Perhaps the most obvious choice would be Harry Roselmack.

He's popular (with viewers) has done the job before (as a stand-in for both PPDA and Ferrari) and currently presents a couple of other programmes on TF1.

But it's only a year since Roselmack announced that he was stepping down from presenting the news to "concentrate on his other projects" - maybe too soon for a return.

Anne-Sophie Lapix, who replaced Ferrari at TF1 when she initially left for Canal + and then again at Canal + when Ferrari returned to TF1 (yes this is very much a game of musical chairs) has already ruled herself out saying she's happy where she is.

And then there's the name of "the dashing" Laurent Delahousse, who has very much stamped his mark on the weekend news over at France 2.

Every time there's a vacancy somewhere (such as when M6 launched its revamped nightly news bulletin or was looking around for a new presenter for 'Capital') Delahousse's name crops up.

He's saying the moment.

Mélissa Theuriau? She seems happy at M6 with the fortnightly investigative magazine 'Zone Interdite'.

Julien Arnaud is another possibility. He's currently the replacement for TF1's weekend anchor Claire Chazal but there's a blemish on his record as the mid-morning programme he presented, 'Près de chez vous', was cancelled a year ago after just five months.

And let's not forget Ferrari's former husband Thomas Hugues (hold on to your hats, here comes more musical chairs).

He used to fill in for Chazal at the weekends and present TF1's Sunday evening magazine  'Sept à Huit' with Ferrari.

Both jobs were handed to Roselmack when Ferrari left for Canal + first time around and Hugues went to...well everywhere and nowhere really, most notably i>Télé.

On second thoughts perhaps Hugues is simply too lightweight to be considered.

In the short term it'll be TF1's former London and Washington correspondent Gilles Bouleau who'll take over.

He has been Ferrari's stand-in since Roselmack resigned (aaaaaaargh - this is impossible to follow isn't it) and is also being touted by some as a potential full-time replacement, especially as he comes with little "celebrity status" baggage.

The successful candidate will surely need to be someone the French feel they can - in a manner of speaking - welcome into their homes every evening and who has the stature and credibility of being both a presenter and a journalist.

Those aren't easy roles to combine in a country where the softly-softly deferential approach is often the preferred one especially when "interviewing" political leaders on TV.

Whoever TF1 chooses, the likelihood is that the decision will be made with one eye on audience figures.

Yes,  TV is news is ratings-driven and that has been a constant criticism levelled at Ferrari with the numbers tuning in to watch falling from a nightly average of 9.1 million when she took over to around 6.4 million.

It would be unfair to put that down solely to Ferrari.

She has been up against stiff competition, most notably from David Pujadas who presents the equivalent prime time news programme at exactly the same time as Ferrari over at the public channel France 2.

And there has probably also been a change in French viewing habits - not everyone wants to watch the news at eight o'clock in the evening - coupled with a wider choice of channels - in number if not content.

Throw in the fact that there are now competing all-news broadcasters such as BFM TV, i>Télé and TF1's sister channel LCI and it's surely little surprise that viewing figures have dropped.

Finally on a purely professional behind-the-scenes level he or she will have to work with TF1 news director Catherine Nayl with whom Ferrari has apparently had a less than easy relationship.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well I'm well acquainted with French television, and the journalists from the first two channels. I would add to your article that Claire Chazal, the other blonde journalist that presents the news at weekends - will be pleased to see Ms Ferrari leave, as the two were rumoured to have been at odds recently.
So here's my top 5 list of favourites to replace Ms Ferrari:

1) Laurent Delahousse, who's certainly a dashing journalist (and incidentally, has been seen with Claire Chazal at social events since she dumped, cougar-style, her young lover whose name I forget).

2) Julien Arnaud for his amazing blue eyes

3) Almost another Julien - Julian Bugier, the joker of Pujadas on France 2. And the sexiest journalist around.

4) Ele Asu, the beautiful black journalist who presents the news on La Matinale (Canal plus).

5) Victor Robert, who seems to have disappeared from the screen - or is on when I'm in bed.

Deirdre - as you can see, a television-addict

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