Welcome to 2017! We hope you had a great New Year's Eve, filled with good times, fun and partying.
Or, at least, that you had more fun than the motley crew of "winners" on Channel Eleven's The Loop, who brought in the new year with what is being called "the most awkward New Year's countdown ever".
The Loop, broadcast on Ten's digital channel Eleven, played music clips through the evening of December 31, leading up to the spectacular countdown to midnight and the official start of the new year. To help in counting down to 2017, hosts Scott Tweedie and Olivia Phyland brought on some helpers.
A few sad party poppers (and one older man waving sparkly cheerleader pom-poms) later, The Loop was on its way to internet infamy.
"Did we just clock the worst NYE countdown ever on TV?" asked a thread on Reddit.
"I feel like Australian free-to-air TV has just given up," one person replied.
Copies of the video have racked up tens of thousands of views on Youtube and Facebook. On The Loop's Facebook page, viewers also commented on the bizarre countdown.
"Was that the worst New Years countdown in the history of tv or what", one said.
"Can the loop please let us know what was wrong with their guests on the new years countdown!!??" said another.
"Those guests looked like hostages. What did you do to them?" was also asked.
But others are claiming it may have been an elaborate joke and trick, and the evidence stacks up. For one, the show's hosts talked about running "one of the biggest competitions in Australia" to choose the "winners" -- the exaggerated size of the competition itself may be your first alarm bell, but after trawling The Loop's social media and websites, we couldn't find any evidence of any such competition.
"Almost as if [the winners] were acting", one person on Reddit theorised.
Show host Tweedie came to prominence as part of ABC3 prank comedy series Prank Patrol, so a send-up isn't totally inconceivable. The Loop also posted a picture of the midnight moment on Facebook, lending credibility to the theory that it was all staged for a laugh.
Tweedie's Twitter followers also seemed in on the joke, as did former The Loop host Ash London:
The Huffington Post Australia tried to contact Channel Ten on Tuesday for more information, but was told a spokesperson was not available for comment until Thursday. We also asked Tweedie about the countdown on Twitter -- we'll let you know if he gets back to us.
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