For about three hours of prime-time last Sunday and again tonight, Delta Goodrem has managed to pull off what must rank as the greatest swiftie of Australian commercial television in 2018.

Delta Goodrem as Olivia Newton-John in Seven's latest biopic.

Photo: Supplied

The singer and actor has managed to get herself onto two of the biggest shows of the year across the industry's most bitter of rivals – Nine and Seven – on the same night.

On Nine she is one of the star judges of The Voice, a gig she has held for five years now, cementing her position as one of the foundation elements of the hugely successful talent show for Nine, having outlasted a string of other judges including Seal, Ricky Martin, Kylie Minogue, Jessie J, Benji and Joel Madden, Will.I.Am, Keith Urban and Ronan Keating.

Some might argue that some of those other stars had much bigger, and more lucrative, gigs to attend to than Goodrem, but as we now see on Channel Seven, that is not quite the case.

While Goodrem is over-emoting on The Voice, she is doing a similar thing on Seven, taking on the titular character in the overly ambitious biographical miniseries Olivia, based on the life and times of one of this country's greatest pop exports Olivia Newton-John.


Now, Goodrem must have one hell of a clever manager or demand for her services is far greater than many of us had ever imagined, because big-name stars rarely get to cross enemy lines as Goodrem has.

When Goodrem was offered the role of Olivia on Seven, she was still under contract to Nine.

PS hears Goodrem's management approached Nine bosses to see if they were warm to the idea of one of their biggest stars taking leave to set up shop in the enemy camp. Needless to say their reception to the idea was frosty.

But Goodrem's "people" persisted, and Nine bosses, in particular programming boss Michael Healy, eventually thawed and managed to come to an agreement with the star that she could do the Olivia project, but her dispensation to do so was on the strict condition that the show not be broadcast while The Voice was on air.

Now, given how protracted the Olivia mini-series production has been, shot two years ago, Nine's bosses presumed Seven would have broadcast the show in 2017, and its agreement with Goodrem only covered that time period, not 2018.

As a result we are now witnessing Seven not only holding back Olivia to 2018, but putting it on the same night as The Voice.

And yes, it has left a rather bad smell around the corridors of Nine.

Though Nine can take heart in the ratings figures from last Sunday which showed the premiere of Sevens Olivia averaged 735,000 viewers across the metropolitan markets, a good result but not a runaway success, which Nine managed to achieve with The Voice, which had 1,004,000 metro viewers tuning in at 7pm.

And while Olivia generated a fairly respectable audience, it did not fare so well on social media, especially Delta's performance, which was labelled everything from "train wreck" to "embarrassing".

While the Twitterati were not holding back, there was a distinct gear change (or perhaps more a grinding crunch) in the first episode when audiences witnessed the Olivia character morph from the relatively unknown young actor, who had done a more than serviceable job playing Olivia, to suddenly seeing Delta in a very obvious wig playing the same character.

The problem being, audiences can't see Delta playing anyone else but Delta.

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Andrew Hornery

Senior journalist Andrew Hornery is the man behind The Sydney Morning Herald's Private Sydney column. If they are worth knowing about, they are on the PS radar.

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