For nearly 30 years, Hey Hey it’s Saturday ruled the variety roost on Australian television. It was a staple in our house, and also when I left & went out on my own. The tradition was you watched Hey Hey and then went out (or went to bed). Even though it was on Saturday night, it drew a respectable audience & was *the* place to have your artist play/perform to promote their new album/tour/book/whatever. It launched stand up comics on Australia & terrified international acts for years. The final episode was everything it should have been (well overtime, indulgent, entertaining, retrospective, teary, fun), and it was necessary as it came on the end of a couple of years of tired & very average shows. The death knell was telegraphed & host Daryl Somers should have seen it coming (allegedly, he didn’t).
When Hey Hey got approved for two “one-off” specials (two? one-off? still doesn’t compute) in 2009, it kinda made sense. We were working our way out of the GFC, and nostalgia was thick in the air and we all needed comfort. Some seemingly more than others. But still, credit where credit was due, they rated pretty well & I guess the executives at Channel 9 felt it was worth taking the option to give the show one more season. This is where their views and mine on the issue start to splinter.
As someone with extremely fond memories of Hey Hey, I didn’t want to see the show return for another season because I didn’t want to see those memories sullied by what would likely be a pale imitation of a show that was strong on zany, strong on the hilarity, strong on the variety. My memories of this one-time juggernaut didn’t need to be scarred with new millennial attempts at 1980’s humour. How could they do it without Molly, contractually locked in with Channel 7?
This 2010 iteration isn’t even a pale imiation of the Hey Hey I know.
At first they attempted to directly copy everything they used to do. Didn’t really translate, but segments like Plucka Duck & Red Faces, as staples, would work in any age because they rely on general public involvement and everyone likes to win prizes/money. Other segments failed miserably. They attempted to right it with modernised gags and the incorporation of technology/social media, which kinda sorta did and didn’t work. Personally I think that anyone accepting money for being on the “writing team” of Hey Hey is rorting their position, as the sketches would never have passed muster in past seasons of the show. The show is absolutely missing Molly Meldrum. Both the humour that always unintentionally surrounded his segment and the musical credibility it brought in him endorsing some of the acts. Do yourself a favour. The man in the hat knew what he was talking about when he said that, and I dutifully rushed out to by my vinyl copy of John Farnham’s “Whispering Jack”. And then “Age Of Reason”. And then “Chain Reaction”.
There will always be people that love Daryl, Ossie, Red, Wilbur, John Blackman, Plucka, Dickie & the gang no matter what they do. You can see that by the horde of bogans punters filling the studio for each taping. It doesn’t hurt that the studio audience walk away with a pack of gifts each week additionally from coerced advertisers & sponsors. It won’t be enough. The Hey Hey house band, however, has a history of being brilliant and the 2010 band continues that tradition. I will question the inclusion of the violinist though, as while she does play very well she has a panchant for very short skirts that seem to want to distract from anything other than her hemline.
There is no way Channel 9 will take up the option of another year/season for Hey Hey. It’s not rating well enough and hasn’t really found it’s place back in the schedule (Hey Hey it’s Wednesday, anyone?). Additionally, 2 and a half hours of live TV with an ensemble cast that big and a killer house band has got to cost a motza. It’d be way too expensive to even consider. I hope this time Daryl walks away with dignity. He’s certainly not showering himself in it right now, as on the show this week the hints started that no deal had been signed to bring Hey Hey back in 2011. “If we’re back next year”. “Assuming we’re back next year”. Daryl, your mouth’s writing cheques your body can’t cash. Just let it go, go home to your ex-ballerina wife & sleep on that huge pile of money & Plucka Duck dolls that is your bed and forget all about it.
P.S. Which work experience kid built the new Hey Hey website?!
Video Source: Channel 9 – Image Sources: News Ltd; Channel 9; The Age