IT'S a photo you won't find on the internet - well, not until now - and it reveals the complicated and cuddlesome secret past of recently axed NBN newsreader Paul Lobb.
Brace yourselves, Big Dog fans: yes, before he began sharing a star dressing room with NBN's top dog at the old Hollywood-on-The-Hill studios at Mosbri Crescent, Lobb was known to snuggle in nice and close to cross-channel rival mascot, Prime Possum.
Topics is not suggesting that the ageless Lobb will be getting back into bed with his (equally bright-eyed and bushy-tailed) TV ex - though this intimate clinch captured by the Herald way back in 1996 clearly shows Prime Possum to be a founding member of the Lobb love circle.
Nor are we inferring that Newcastle's former gentleman of the evening autocue was ever anything but faithful to NBN's canine pin-up during their 24 years as co-workers.
Rather, we've dug out this old Herald clipping to make two timely points.
First, what a true professional is Lobby, eh? Even in the early days of his TV career when he presented sport on the now-long-gone Prime news bulletin, he would obligingly, possibly even eagerly, snuggle in cosy and tight with Poss for a photo opp to promote a new range of plush merch.
All these years later, the award-winning journalist and occasional musical theatre performer is still a class act. Even in the wake of the shock decision by NBN's owners, Nine Entertainment Co, to ask him to clear out his newsdesk, the Lobbmeister has diplomatically declined to diss on them.
Second, if a big metropolitan TV network that swallows a regional TV station (as Nine did in 2007) can make a popular newsreader disappear overnight, who will speak out when they come for the big furry mascot?
Now, no one is saying that Big Dog is about to be put to, um, sleep.
But the star pooch has chosen to lie doggo since colleague Lobb had the plug pulled last month - one of the few Novocastrians (two - we counted) who hasn't been on social media howling in protest.
Ray Dineen - aka Cathode Ray, 37-year veteran of NBN News - weighed in this week with some choice, exquisitely enunciated, words to the Herald about Lobb's exit ("a bad thing, really bad") and NBN's trajectory under Nine ("NBN Limited doesn't exist any more, it's just a name on the news").
But the silence from Big Dog has been, well, deafening.
Same for Prime Possum, funnily enough.
Is it a coincidence that Seven West Media has just completed its takeover of Prime, which shows Seven programs like Home & Away across most of regional Australia?
Parents who set their clocks by Prime Possum's toddler-taming bedtime segment will be watching closely to see whether Kerry Stokes-controlled Seven views the marsupial as a prime-time staple or a pest.
So far, Nine hasn't been game to lay a paw on Big Dog's nightly bedtime message. The mutt debuted on NBN's The Early Birds show in 1983, which makes him 40 next year.
Prime Possum turns 30 next year. Then Prime TV chief George Brown (an ex-NBN chief) and then Prime TV promotions guru Peter Browne (an ex-NBN promotions guru) unleashed the whiskered varmint in 1993 in a shameless bid to neuter Big Dog as NBN's family jewel. Former radio host Geoff Jay and ex-Knight Mark Sargent - both appeared on Prime's news at the time - posed for the Herald at Prime Possum's public unveiling.
BTW: As a workmate, young Poss looks to have been a bit handsy and fond of a cuddle back in those carefree pre-Covid days.
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