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Ryan Liddle and Shahni Wellington of Big Mob Brekky sit in the dressing room
Photograph: SuppliedRyan Liddle and Shahni Wellington are ready to bring you Big Mob Brekky

Australia's first all-Indigenous breakfast show is finally here

We spoke to co-host Ryan Liddle about getting up early and going live with Big Mob Brekky during NAIDOC week

Stephen A Russell

It’s fair to SBS presenter Ryan Liddle is looking forward to loosening his collar a little when he swaps the nightly news for the other end of the day during NAIDOC week for daily dispatches from Big Mob Brekky. The country’s first all-Indigenous breakfast show, he and long-time friend and colleague Shahni Wellington will totally transform the until-now conspicuously white space and bring a new outlook to the am.

“Particularly in this day and age, what with lockdown, I think for a lot of people, their appetite for heavy, dreary news, they’ve probably had quite a bit of it filled,” he chuckles  when chatting about the chance to lighten up a little without losing focus on the big picture faced by Australia’s First Nations communities. “If we can somehow deliver that message in more of a light-hearted way, and a different format to what me and Shahni are used to which I guess it is comparatively dry, then we want to get into that place. It’s not that we will shy away from those harder issues, but we'll just look at a different way of telling them.”

He’s been boning up on his daggy dad jokes. “I’ve done news TV for a long time, and this is a completely different flavour to that. So I have been watching a bit of brekky telly just to get my head in that space. I guess I want to show a bit more of my own personality.”

Ryan Liddle smiling in a green shirt in the warehosuse-like space of Carriageworks
Photograph: SuppliedRyan Liddle will show off more of his personality in Big Mob Brekky

They're looking forward to unveiling an all-star guest line-up, taking in everything from cooking segments to community call outs across the nation, comedy spots to live music, and some as-yet top secret location shoots around Sydney, and there’s only one thing that has him nervous. “They always say be wary when dealing with animals and babies, and I don’t know if there will be any of those present on set as yet. But look, I think we’ll be fine. We might be a little bit tired in the morning, doing the brekky gig opposed to our usual late night business. But I think the guests we have on will really provide an X-factor as far as the laughs that they bring and some of the stories they tell so yeah. We’ll be looking forward to all those thrills that live TV can provide.”

Raring to go, Liddle says working with Wellington is a dream team scenario. “We’ve got a really good chemistry together. We’ve been lucky enough to host some TV shows in the past and work worked really closely alongside each other. I’m a country boy and I'll bring that country style of humour that we like to see. Shahni is very funny, warm and a very honest sort of character. So you know, so what you’ll be seeing on the telly will be us, who we genuinely are.”

His overriding feeling is pride at getting to front up this history-making moment alongside and equally eager Wellington. “It’s an incredible privilege and I’m incredibly humbled to have that responsibility during NAIDOC week. It’s such an important time to showcase our culture and our achievements, and also the very real issues faced by our community every day. Because it’s something that I’ve lived my whole life, day-to-day, but for the wider community, and the international community, they might not be as aware of the kind of issues we’re faced with. We really just want people to have fun, to tune in and leave with a smile on their face, but also hopefully they've learned a little bit along the way.”

And is there any talk about possibly extending Big Mob Brekky beyond NAIDOC week? “Well mate,” he laughs. “Depending on how our performance goes, who knows, we might see some more Big Mob Brekky down the track or long term. I’m not sure, but fingers crossed people have an appetite for what we can provide.”

Big Mob Brekky will air 7.30am every weekday morning on NITV during NAIDOC Week, November 8-15.

Want more NAIDOC Week suggestions? Read our top tips here

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