Matt Smith's End of the Spectrum

Melbourne-based writer and journalist. Purveyor of finally crafted radio plays. A Muppet of a man.

Hey Hey it's… Hey, where did everyone go?

First published on The Punch on 8th July, 2010

Were you one of the 637,000 or so people who watched Hey Hey it’s Saturday this week? No? How about one of the 800,100 who watched it the week before?

If you were, then watch it while you can. It’s a primetime show that is taking up two hours worth of scheduling, and ranking 60th in the week’s rating list. A show can only haemorrhage viewers like that for so long.

It was a different case a year ago, so where did things go wrong? Wasn’t there a huge Facebook campaign with thousands of rabid fans demanding that the show return?

Daryl Somers should have noticed the storm clouds. The first sign that things needed to change was when an act that was hilarious twenty years ago (wearing blackface for a Michael Jackson number) wasn’t as funny as he first thought (Harry Connick Jr look down on you must be a strange low point to be at).

Like many people, I can still remember it being a family ritual: Friday night, Burke’s Backyard, Saturday night, Hey Hey it’s Saturday. There was something nice and predictable about it for a Saturday night; there was no school the next day, Daryl was funny with his bad jumpers and dad jokes, and there were bogans to laugh at in Red Faces.

Nothing has changed. The show is exactly the same, minus the ostrich.

Assoc. Professor Susan Turnbull from La Trobe University put it like this. “It’s no longer the 1980s, and our sense of humour has changed. ‘Hey Hey it’s Saturday’ hasn’t changed with it, so we’re looking elsewhere for our comedy. That’s why shows like ‘Talking Bout Your Generation’ are flourishing – they target our current sense of humour, not our nostalgia.’

Maybe that’s the problem. We’ve grown and matured. We look at where we’ve come from with fondness and have no desire to return. When we want to laugh, we don’t want to wonder if we laughed at the same joke twenty years ago. Sure, the ratings from last year’s special episodes exceeded all expectation (even beating MasterChef) topping two million viewers – but it’s good to be nostalgic for one day, not every week on a Wednesday.

Which brings us to the next issue. By putting the show on a Wednesday night and retaining the name, we feel cheated. Are we to believe it is Saturday? Who are they trying to fool, we have two days of work left! On a Wednesday we’re looking to get the kids to bed for school the next day, not settle in for family viewing!

Enjoy Hey Hey it’s Saturday while you can. Enjoy the pithy remarks of Red Symons as he holds up the score card. Enjoy Plucka Duck humping the female contestants. Enjoy Daryl biting his bottom lip as he dances once the commercial break is over. On July 21, the show has booked a guest appearance by Kylie Minogue. Rather ominously, it’s now been announced to ‘go on an early hiatus’ after that. If it’s numbers continue to tread water below a million, Channel 9 will be reaching for its gong.


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This entry was posted on July 12, 2010 by in television and tagged , , , , .
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