Nine upfront 2022: Network pins hopes on snack food, crime and moving to the country Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content

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By Karl Quinn

Channel Nine is hoping its new show Snackmasters will do for fast food what Lego Masters has done for the humble building block: tap into nostalgia and a staple of everyday life to create a show the whole family can connect with.

Based on a British format, the show was unveiled at the network’s upfront presentation on Wednesday and will screen later this year. Nine is the owner of this masthead.

Shot during lockdown, each episode pits two top professional chefs in a competition to recreate popular brand-name snacks, with only their tastebuds and instincts to guide them, before their efforts are judged by a panel of workers from the companies that make the foods.

Fast, food: Snackmasters co-hosts Scott Pickett and Poh Ling Yeow.

Fast, food: Snackmasters co-hosts Scott Pickett and Poh Ling Yeow.Credit:Jessica Hromas/Nine

“Prior to working on this I’d never thought about how a Twistie is made,” says high-profile restaurateur Scott Pickett, who co-hosts the show with MasterChef fave Poh Ling Yeow. “It’s not chefs deconstructing it and doing a restaurant version; they’ve got to replicate it as closely as possible, and they can’t Google it. It’s hard.”

They do have three days to pull it off, though, which is surely plenty of time to make a Twistie. “It’s just enough,” Pickett says.

The line-up for Nine for 2022 will see established reality hits Married at First Sight, Lego Masters, Love Island and The Block return, plus new seasons of Beauty and the Geek and Celebrity Apprentice, both successful additions to the schedule this year.

New to the slate is Parental Guidance, in which different parenting styles will be put to the test by host Ally Langdon and parenting expert Dr Justin Coulston. “There’s a lot of heart, but it’s quite confronting as well,” says Nine program director Hamish Turner of the show, which was first flagged in late 2019 as Parent Jury, with former Supernanny Jo Frost slated to host. “With half of Australia in lockdown with kids at home it’s never been more challenging to be a parent.”

It’s not the only program that seems to have been commissioned under the influence of COVID-19, with four shows tapping into the upsurge in interest in living outside the capital cities.

Buying Byron is a real estate show that delves into the most expensive property market in the country, a locality that also happens to have one of the highest rates of homelessness as a result of the boom in property prices. Byron is also home to the next season of Love Island Australia.

Networks love shows that create “noise”, but given the antagonism that has greeted Netflix’s reality show about the so-called influencer community, Nine will be bracing nervously for the social media response to its foray into the Northern Rivers region. “We’re always prepared, especially after seeing what happened with Byron Baes,” Turner says.

Far less likely to be contentious is The Block’s tree change, in which the 18th season of the show goes bush for the first time, sub-dividing an acreage block near Mt Macedon to develop a batch of new homes. Also going bush is the show’s judge Shaynna Blaze, who restores a dilapidated home in regional Victoria in Country Home Rescue.

The Block judge Shaynna Blaze turns renovator herself in Country Home Rescue.

The Block judge Shaynna Blaze turns renovator herself in Country Home Rescue.Credit:Nine

The offering is heavily reliant on crime, with observational documentary Australia Behind Bars – in which cameras go inside to detail the realities of life in three maximum-security prisons – leading the way. It will be presented by Melissa Doyle, in her first on-air role since leaving Seven in August 2020. Missing Persons Investigation and Million Dollar Murders trawl through the cold case files, while on the drama side of the fence Underbelly returns with a case that is still very much warm.

Underbelly: Vanishing Act stars Kate Atkinson (Wentworth’s governor Vera Bennett) as Melissa Caddock, the Sydney financial adviser and accused fraudster who went missing last November and whose foot was discovered on a beach near Tathra in February.

No charges have been laid over her disappearance and presumed death, and Turner is cautiously optimistic the show won’t suffer the fate of the network’s first season of Underbelly, which was blocked from screening in Victoria in 2008 because of legal proceedings.

“There are two risks,” he says. “One is she turns up tomorrow, hobbles in. The second is that someone is arrested. But Underbelly has never shied away from this.

“It’s just an amazing story and there’s only a part of it that people know,” he adds. “She was living such a big life but it was a house of cards, always just about to fall apart.”

Nine also revealed that it has secured the rights to the US Open for the next three years, a deal that brings all four tennis Grand Slams under the one broadcasting roof.

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Email the author at kquinn@theage.com.au, or follow him on Facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on Twitter @karlkwin