Jock Zonfrillo dead: Behind the scenes at Channel 10 before network revealed ... trends now
An insider has shed new details on the frantic scramble at Channel 10 after network executives learned of Masterchef judge Jock Zonfrillo's shock death on the eve of the new season going to air.
The Scottish-born celebrity chef, 46, was found dead in his Melbourne hotel room about 2am on Monday after police arrived for a welfare check.
Behind the scenes, network executives and Masterchef producers swung into action and ensured the shock news did not become public until 2pm, just five-and-a-half hours before the season premiere was due to air.
The first thing they did was contact Zonfrillo's wife Lauren and his two youngest children holidaying in Italy and book the family on the first flight home.
There were statements to prepare and publicity engagements to cancel at the last minute as Channel 10 took over the social media accounts of Zonfrillo and his MasterChef co-stars Melissa Leong and Andy Allen.
Leong appeared to be none the wiser when she spoke glowingly about Zonfrillo in a interview that aired on a Perth radio station on Monday before all other interviews for the rest of the day were abruptly cancelled.
Entertainment commentator Peter Ford has weighed in on how Channel 10's carefully managed handling ensured the news remained under wraps for 12 hours.
Channel Ten executives were in a frenzy on Monday morning to manage the news of Jock Zonfrillo's shock death, which stayed under wraps for 12 hours. Pictured is Zonfrillo with his MasterChef co-stars Andy Allen and Melissa Leong
'When executives and the producers of the show were notified, they knew they had probably six to eight hours up their sleeve to do the things they needed to do... including getting his wife and two youngest children on flights back to Australia,' he told Sunrise on Tuesday.
'They were in Rome so you can imagine the grief of being in a strange country and being told that Jock was dead.
'So they got them onto the flight; they then prepared statements (and) cancelled all publicity engagements for the judges.
'There were a lot of radio