Totally Wild’s Stacey Thomson (l) and Natalie Hunter (r) with Cherrie Bottger at the 2018 Logies (Photo: Network 10).
The Australian Children’s Television Foundation has questioned Network 10’s commitment to children’s TV after the departure of Cherrie Bottger.
The network is not replacing Bottger, who retired late last year after 17 years as head of children’s TV, having championed numerous shows including Totally Wild and Jonathan M Shiff’s The Bureau Of Magical Things, Mako Mermaids and H20: Just Add Water.
Her duties will be shared among the team who worked closely with her over the years – probably no surprise since the commercial free-to-air networks have long lobbied the government to abolish the kids’ quotas.
ACTF CEO Jenny Buckland told IF: “With Cherrie gone at Ten, what we really lose is any competition for the ABC children’s services. Without replacing her, but instead having people share her different responsibilities, what will be lost is the champion for the audience and the overall strategist. I guess it just sums up what they think about the kids audience.”
Bottger oversaw all commissioned kids’ programming, development, acquisitions, scheduling, in-house productions and international and local co-productions as well as the network’s documentary unit.
Before joining 10 she served as director of children’s programming for the Nine Network in Queensland and as Seven’s executive producer, children’s.
A spokesperson for 10 said: “Cherrie retired with a spectacular list of achievements on her resume. She championed high end local production with many series going on to international acclaim, putting several of our local producers, writers and directors on the map. We congratulate Cherrie on a fantastic career and wish her all the best.”
Shiff said: “Cherrie has been a close friend and mentor to me for decades. Her unstoppable passion and clear understanding for entertaining the Australian children’s audience is without peer, making her a national treasure. I wish her all the very best for her next adventure.”
Screen Producers Australia CEO Matthew Deaner said: “She has been a shining light in an often challenging area, was central to forming a real sense of community among all involved in children’s production and will always be held in the highest regard from producers and key creatives through to broadcast executives.”
Buckland added: “Cherrie has been a champion for the children’s audience at Ten, doing the absolute best she could, by turning out regular in-house shows like Scope and Totally Wild, and commissioning a huge amount of independent production which was successful here and around the world.
“She was the commercial free TV executive that really cared about kids and tried to provide a real alternative to the ABC for kids. She was gutsy and always on the lookout for opportunities – for example, when the ABC axed Behind The News around 2004.
“Cherrie jumped into the breach and persuaded Ten management to go with a children’s news service, Total Ten News. I can’t imagine that happening now. I think perhaps she was not valued by current management as much as she was back then.”