• Hey Hey Its Saturday returns to Australian television
  • Hey Hey Its Saturday returns to Australian television
    Written by battye
    Thu Apr 15, 2010 4:27 pm

    On April 14, 2010 another significant chapter of Australian television began. Australian variety and comedy show Hey Hey It's Saturday originally ran between 1971 and 1999 before it was axed by Channel 9 - reportedly due to its high budget. Even in 1999, no other entertainment program had been on air as long as Hey Hey. Only news and childrens programming such as Four Corners and Play School had a better longevity record.

    In 2009 a Facebook group dedicated to the return of Hey Hey was set up by Corrine Lawrence of New South Wales and received a lot of media attention. This attracted several hundred thousand followers. By July, Channel 9 had agreed to bring back Hey Hey It's Saturday for two reunion specials - and they were a huge success. The first episode averaged 2.17 million people nationally, while the second episode - despite the blackface controversy involving the parody band "Jackson Jive" - gained on that averaging 2.3 million.

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    On the back of these extraordinary numbers, Channel 9 moved quickly to secure a permanent deal. And that brings us to April 2010, 10 years since it's last regular airing - Hey Hey officially returns.

    With it's 2010 return, Hey Hey It's Saturday has an on-air record spanning 39 years - a timespan longer than Saturday Night Live (1975-present) in the USA.

    On it's return last night, Hey Hey averaged an audience of 1.52 million. It was up against stiff competition from Channel 7 though, their premiere of $207 million blockbuster mini-series The Pacific attracted 1.59 million viewers.

    It will be interesting to view next weeks ratings, although the content of The Pacific is vastly different to Hey Hey but it's likely with such high numbers there was a lot of overlap, with both shows taking viewers off one another due to the interest factors in their respective premiere episodes. The coming weeks will give a better idea of where the ratings of each show will settle at; although Channel 9 would have to be confident that after attracting over 2 million viewers for the reunion shows, there is still room for growth after last night. Scripted series (such as The Pacific) historically tend to drop from their premiere numbers, and Channel 9 will be hoping some of that drop-off switches to Hey Hey, which will be airing for 10 episodes now and 10 more episodes in the later part of the year.

    Last night, Daryl Somers returned to his role as host of Hey Hey It's Saturday joined by Livinia Nixon. The old crew including Red Symons, Wilber Wilde, John Blackman and Russell Gilbert were there, although due to a contract with Channel 7 Molly Meldrum was a notable absentee. Plucka Duck and Ozzie Ostrich were present, and Jacki McDonald is expected to make some appearances throughout the season.

    Some people are probably wondering why Hey Hey is now on a Wednesday night - Daryl Somers explained this very accurately early on in the show; 1) It is easier to get musical guests on a weeknight, and 2) there are more people watching TV on a Wednesday night than there are on a Saturday night. Special guests included Lisa McCune and Sigrid Thornton while Vanessa Amorosi and Jet were the musical guests.

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    Hey Hey's return will let us know whether the variety format still has a place in Australian television. No doubt there are some people that are upset that Hey Hey isn't much different to it's previous run (1971-1999), but I am not one of them. What is great about Hey Hey is that it is clean family friendly humour, and Daryl Somers is a classy host but is still genuinely funny.

    That is not to say that new segments won't be added or that they won't be hilarious. One of the highlights of last nights episode was Russell Gilbert's mention of his new show to capitalise on the success of all the other Australian reality shows. Hopefully - if he can get it through customs - we'll see a preview of "Border Line Customs Security Control Border Squad Chef" next week. Or was it "Border Line Security Airport Security Rescue Squad Chef"? I can't wait, as their parody show "DisasterChef" in the reunion show was top notch.

    Gerry O, the winner of the Red Faces segment would have to have taken the prize for funniest moment though. Gerry O is a guitarist from Adelaide and his talent was impersonating celebrities. He took on Baa Baa Black Sheep as Tina Turner, John Farnham and Kermit before taking on Midnight Oil leadman turned politician Peter Garrett. Spot on each time! See his performance here:

    I'm glad Hey Hey It's Saturday is back on air, and I'm already looking forward to next weeks episode. There's not much about Australian television that I appreciate, but Hey Hey is one of them. The show has stood the test of time - and for good reason.

    If you're in Australia and haven't already, watch Hey Hey It's Saturday on Wednesday night at 7:30pm on Channel 9.
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