View Comments
Kerri-Anne returns to host crime show
Kerri-Anne returns to host crime show

A little-known fact about Kerri-Anne Kennerley is that she has always been somewhat of an amateur sleuth.

The media icon's holiday reading material is guaranteed to be selected from the crime section of the bookshelf and she admits to harbouring a passion for thrillers and courtroom dramas where viewers are left to make their own hypotheses until the answers are revealed in the final moments.

So although Kennerley's latest TV venture may feel a world away from her previous work, her new role as host of Behind Mansion Walls on Foxtel's Crime and Investigation Network comes as a natural fit.

In what marks her big return to the small screen since her morning show Kerri-Anne ended two years ago, the former daytime TV queen brings to life cases of murder and mystery carried out by the international elite and some of the world's wealthiest families - people who the host says feel they are above suspicion.

"I love the fact that these stories are absolute whodunnits with the wealthy, the powerful, the media moguls, the inherited ones - you name it, they are out there," Kennerley says by phone from Sydney.

"They wreak havoc and they don't ever think it's in their circle to be caught. I find the international ones extraordinary, especially the American ones because there is so much money involved.

Guys worth hundreds of millions of dollars and then they murder, you just look at it and think 'Didn't you have enough?'"

The series of chilling real-life stories kicks off in the debut episode, which lifts the veil on an intriguing case in the US that baffled detectives for 27 years and gained notoriety due to a connection with the Kennedy family.

Then there is the mystery surrounding the death of high-flying plastic surgeon Robert Bierenbaum's wife in the 1980s, where viewers are given an insight into the decade-long investigation and a step-by-step recount of how it was finally solved.

These tales of betrayal, greed and money are made even more captivating by the show's format, which begins with Kennerley dressed to the nines in a mansion setting as she introduces the case, then weaves in interviews with people related to the investigation, footage and photographs from the time of the crime and a series of dramatisations to illustrate the various theories.

"We have treated it a little bit differently," Kennerley says of the format.

"We unashamedly went the full glam with the mansions and wealth and that gives a point of difference because usually it's blokes in dark suits in a dark alley.

"When you hear the reporters or the police describe the circumstances surrounding the cases I think it really invites people into that reality. And it's not fiction, it does go to show life can be stranger than fiction."

Kennerley's own life has slowed down over the past two years as she has enjoyed the freedom to pick and choose projects at will, such as her appearance on Dancing with the Stars last year and guest reports for Seven's Sunday Night.

The 60-year-old says she does not miss what she calls "the relentless daily grind" of working Monday to Friday. "You really do need a personal and professional change of pace sometimes," Kennerley says.

"I have done a few pieces in the meantime when it was all care and no responsibility rather than having to run a whole show by myself.

"Having your own show is cool but what comes with it is the daily responsibility and the fabulous stress - there's good stress and bad stress and I prided myself on having good stress. After 30 years, my emotional and stressful time had come to a good end for the time being."