One of the few icons of Australian television. A blending of four ad-lib talents that combined to make a unique variety programme that stopped Australians from leaving the house whilst it was on (until the advent of video recorders allowed them!)
I grew up with 'Hey Hey, It's Saturday'. A unique programme in Australian TV. Starting on Saturday mornings in 1971 (8am to 11am) as the traditional studio compere links between the Saturday morning cartoons. Quickly the ad-lib style of the hosts (the key 4 personnel of Daryl Somers & Ossie Ostrich (two of the most misspelt names ever on Australian television?) & voice over man John Blackman & sound effects guru Murray Tregonning) saw the cartoons slowly diminish! One classic morning, out of the three hours of cartoons, only one segment of one cartoon aired! The rest was ad-lib magic. When they suggested champagne & chicken breakfasts, so did the fans. Live television meant some classic moments. From Rock Bands on the Discussion segments (reviewing latest releases) who were hung over or dropped magic words after the previous night's gig, to an Ossie early cross-over without head (Oops!). It was humour working rapid fire on many levels, visual, verbal, adult, and child-like. In-jokes abounded. The crew were incorporated into the show as stars in their own right. (Bray the Garden Gnome, Crystal, Phil). The task each week of the other three key players was simply to break Daryl up in laughter. Many times succeeding. Whilst the key 4 remained, the show was unbeatable. Jackie MacDonald joined a few seasons later to add a woman's touch (Hurley Burley What A Girlie was the catch cry). Moving to nights, increased the audience, but lowered the daring of the humour. Once Ossie Ostrich (Graham Kennedy's ex-scriptwriter, Ernie Carroll) retired, it lost it's unique place. Not everyone was a fan of Ossie Ostrich. One International star, Robert Palmer, refused to be interviewed by 'a puppet' as being beneath his image. There will never be another 'Hey Hey It's Saturday'. Variety television in Australia is all the more poorer.
Hosted by Daryl Somers and Ozzie Ostrich (a puppet played by Ernie Carrol), Hey Hey It's Saturday was two hours of gold every week. Characters included Plucka Duck, who featured in a segment of the same name, (where a member of the public could win a prize such as a holiday, electronic goods or a car). Dickie Knee was supposedly a black haired schoolboy in a blue cap, but you only ever saw the back of his head at the bottom of the camera. He was in fact, a glorified mop. In one episode, when the camera shot changed, you saw a man crouching in front of the table holding the Dickie puppet, to which Dickies voice said: "Oh, Gidday Mark", (The name of the puppeteer).
Hey Hey It's Saturday contained other segments, such as Media Watch Press, where people sent in funny mistakes from their local paper, (much like "What The..." on "Rove Live" today); Phunny Fotos, where people sent in funny photo's...(wow! Just like it says!); The great Aussie Joke, where people sent in jokes to be told, the funniest as voted by the audience winning a prize; Molly's Melodrama, a "what's happenening in the music world" segment, hosted by Ian "Molly" Meldrum the music guru; and Red Faces, where three amateur acts competed for $500. The main judge was Red Symonds, who was notoriously mean and derogatory, and he was joined by different celebrity judges every week, (such celebrities included Mel Gibson, Victor Borge, Kylie Minogue, Lou Diamond Philips, Kamahl, Rita Rudner, Bruce Vilanch, Ben Elton, Peter Cook, Jimmy Barnes and John Farnham to name a few). Many music groups got a chance to showcase their songs as well, both young artists, as well as performances from well established music legends. While the show was Ausralian, it also showed for a time in other countries, such as New Zealand, and filmed some episodes in America.
Hey Hey it's Saturday was a great family show, and is missed by many.
This was the ultimate Saturday Night light entertainment show in Australia.
You never knew what to expect - it was live television at its best. They were not afraid to go off script and go wild.
I would love for it to come back with most of the old cast adapted (but only slightly) to keep up with the times.
I miss seeing all the costumes and the audience involvement of getting dressed up.
Reading the blurb in the weekly TV guide wasn't enough to get an idea of this show. It had a certain feel, a characteristic that defined itself from other variety shows. It was organised, yet laid back. A professional sense of being natural, which is hard to find in a lot of variety shows.
Featuring segments ranging from interviews to music, talent shows to mini-shows (namely The Sullivans) and contests. Each had their own style, and humour would vary from one to another. Everything, with very rare exceptions, was broadcasted live, providing unexpected laughs, as well as plenty of goof-ups.
One of the segments, Red Faces, would get people talking for the rest of the week, until the next Saturday's episode. Red Faces was a talent show, much like America's "The Gong Show", where people would go on to show their talent/stage act to the audience, where the lead of the judge panel would be able to stop the act at any time, by hitting a gong. The lead judge was always the same person--Red Symons (the reason "Red Faces" seemed appropriate for the name of the segment), who was the "bad guy" of sorts--though the other two or three judges (depending on the situation) were celebrities, whether they be musicians, TV personalities, or stars from Hollywood.
The show also had a long-running mini-series, known as The Sullivans. This featured the host, co-host, announcer, and ostrich companian as characters in a family, performed live, in front of the show's huge audience, meaning a lot of lines were misread. It may seem unprofessional to some, but a large portion of the show's humour was based around bloopers and other mishaps.
The show's host (throughout every series), Daryl Sommers, become hugely popular. Ian "Molly" Meldrum, who was previously host of Countdown, an Australian music charts show, introduced himself to a new generation of people, whether it be through his musical knowledge, or the pranks that were constantly played on him (one example would be chipboard ceiling pieces falling onto him, during his segment). The show's novelty characters, aka the puppets, such as Ossie Ostrich, Dickie Knee, and Plucka Duck, were hugely popular, for their quick wit, or, in the case of Plucka Duck, who didn't talk, the actions performed. Other stars, and even guests, were launched into larger popularity through the long-running show, as they were introduced to a new generation of people, or given a successful career from the show.
The show was hugely successful in its time, though unfortunately had to end when it quickly left its prime. Although it was no longer fresh, millions of people in the country were sad to see it end. I know that I, for one, wasn't happy to watch the final episode. It ran for over a decade, and constantly evolved, growing a huge fanbase. I still consider it my favourite variety show, and many people think television has never been the same since.
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