Seven got into the swing of things on February 1, when Holey Moley launched the network’s first 7:30 tentpole program for 2021.
Holey Moley had 983,000 capital city viewers tune in for the show’s launch making it Seven’s biggest launch in over three years.
Mediaweek caught up with Holey Moley commentator Matt Shirvington to talk about bringing the epic mini-golf format to Australia.
Returning to Seven
It has been a busy seven months for the former Olympian who joined the Sydney news team in July after spending over 12 years at Foxtel.
The move saw Shirvington return to his first home after getting working with the network on Beyond Tomorrow in 2005.
Shirvington described the decision to join the free to air network as a leap of faith from both sides but he is loving life at Seven.
“I had an opportunity in the newsroom and James Warburton (Seven CEO & MD), encouraged me to take the chance to get into the Seven stable and nothing was concrete in regard to anything else.
“When the opportunity came for the chance to do a screen test for Holey Moley and Ultimate Tag I wanted to push myself and get out of my own wheelhouse. These shows were perfect and in particular Holey Moley to use the skills I already had from sports presenting and commentating.”
Signing up for Holey Moley
Shirvington said that he was excited about the interesting blend of entertainment and sports in Eureka Productions’ Holey Moley which reminded him of some famous formats.
“Initially it reminded me of a couple of shows, one of those being the American series of Wipeout, another one that I watched as a kid was It’s a Knockout, and Takeshi’s Castle a little bit too as well.”
The format is a wild ride and Shirvington said that you just have to embrace it and he hopes he was able to provide value in how he approached the show.
“You tell these people they have to be on fire set, or that they have to walk through a giant windmill, or pushed into a pool, or zipline into a pole. You can’t explain to people what’s going to happen next and those moments speak for themselves.
“The thing I was focused on the most was trying to tell the story of the competition and what was happening on the course and then in-between all of that was letting it happen and unfold.”
Filming an epic show during a pandemic
Filming a larger than life show like Holey Moley was always going to be a challenge, but the production team had an even greater challenge when Covid-19 delayed filming and altered plans. Shirvington said the challenges made the season even more fulfilling.
“I am so proud to be a part of this show and I think part of that is because so many people did so many great things to adapt in a world where TV and movie productions were being delayed or cancelled. Everyone really valued the chance to work on something like this and put in a heap of work.
“We would get our daily Covid test at 1 pm and once we got all clear we would jump in a car at 5pm and start shooting around the clock and not be back at the hotel till 6:30am. It was long shoot days and after the arduous task of having the full brain scrape Covid test done as well, unfortunately. We were so lucky to go ahead we would have done anything.”
Working with Rob Riggle
Shirvington admitted that he never expected his career to place him next to American comedian Rob Riggle, but they hit it off from the start.
“I learned a lot sitting next to Rob Riggle who is one of the most renowned comics in the world right now, and I was able to learn through osmosis some of the nuances of comedy.
“When we were being fitted for our mustard jackets and after all the pleasantries, he asked me where can I watch the NFL? And I was like, this is perfect, this guy is going to be a good friend and we went straight to the pub and watched the NFL.”
Swimming with Sharks
More than one shark appears in Holey Moley with famed Australian golfer Greg Norman serving as the resident golf pro who Shirvington enthused brings a level of credibility to the show.
“Unfortunately I did not get to interact much with Greg who did all of his stuff out of Florida remotely, but for him to be involved in the design of the Holey Moley course is pretty cool. And his interludes with Riggle were awesome as well.”
Holey Moley TV Ratings
When asked about the premiere episode’s TV ratings, Shirvington admitted that he was waiting with bated breath for the results.
“I think everyone had high hopes for it and I was very nervous, it kind of reminded me of going into competition when I was an athlete myself. The success of the show was due to the work that was put in by the team along with the background of the players and a cross-section of society who just want to have fun and get an insight into real people.”
The Back Nine
When asked what the rest of the season has in store after teeing off, Shirvington said that the show has more birdies than bogeys in its future.
“The best is to come for this show. We haven’t seen all the holes yet or the most flamboyant characters. The vast array of backgrounds for this show is phenomenal. And yet to be revealed is Greg Norman’s masterpiece the Tomb of Nefer-Tee-Tee.”