Broadcaster Fran Kelly, who left Radio National Breakfast in December after 17 years, is returning to the ABC with a new Friday night chatshow in front of a live audience and a house rock band.
The prime-time show, called Frankly, has been billed as “glitzy” and will feature the former political journalist talking to actors, musicians, “big thinkers” and “change makers”.
It’s a change of pace for the veteran ABC broadcaster whose career has focused on hard news and political interviews for three decades, despite having a background as a musician.
Kelly studied arts at the University of Adelaide , was previously a singer in several bands in the late 1970s and 80s and an arts administrator before moving into journalism.
She got her first job at the ABC as a reporter on Triple J’s Hack program in 1988 when she was 29.
“I’m so excited about this new show,” Kelly said on Wednesday, when the show went into production at ABC TV.
“Leaving RN Breakfast was bittersweet … I’m loving the sleep-ins but missing all those incredible conversations with fabulous guests from around Australia and the world.
“People have been asking ever since what’s next for me. Well this is it and I can’t wait. More great conversations, a live audience and my own band … what’s not to be excited about. It’s such a privilege and going to be so much fun.”
Kelly worked in the Canberra press gallery for 10 years and in 2001 was political editor for ABC TV’s 7.30 before a stint as the ABC’s Europe correspondent based in London.
Since stepping down from RN Breakfast, Kelly has appeared across radio and TV as a political commentator, covered the federal election and co-hosted a podcast with her Breakfast successor, Patricia Karvelas.
When Kelly announced her retirement from daily current affairs radio she wasn’t clear what her next career move would be.
“Sometimes I feel like every hour of my day is mapped out by what I need to achieve in that hour in order to be able to deliver the show the next morning, so it will be nice to breathe out a little,” Kelly told Guardian Australia in December.
Frankly will be produced in-house by the ABC’s entertainment division.
“Fran brings such a warmth and depth of intelligence we couldn’t be more excited to invite the audience in to hear her chat with the most interesting and electrifying people on the planet,” the head of entertainment, Nick Hayden, said.
The last chatshow on the ABC was Adam Hills’s in Gordon Street Tonight, co-starring comedians Hannah Gadsby and Dave O’Neil, which ended in 2013. Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope talkshow, co-created with producer Anita Jacoby, ran between 2003 and 2008.
The ABC has not released a date or a time-slot for the show yet.