After an impressive start to the ratings year, Nine is working hard to market its offering for Q2 which starts post-Easter. The key properties are the veteran talent show The Voice, Hamish Blake’s new Lego Masters and the second season of Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation, hosted by Shaun Micallef.
“Mercifully there are only eight episodes this season,” Micallef told Mediaweek when speaking about the new season of his Nine series.
He quickly explained: “I say mercifully, because when we were at Channel 10, in some years there would be 26 episodes which seemed to go on forever. It was nice to have a smaller run.”
The series ran for four years on 10 before it moved to Nine last year after a six year rest.
Micallef explained the first and the last episodes of the shorter season are recorded on separate days, while the other six episodes are filmed two at a time. “The whole series takes about five weeks to shoot. It was done during my holidays and didn’t feel like work at all.”
Because he doesn’t have any role as a producer on the series, Micallef doesn’t take part in post production screenings and network reviews. Some of the feedback from that stage can filter back to him though.
“There can be a request to drop in a line or inquire if I mind if a line is cut. They still care enough about my reaction to ask me those things occasionally.
“I give the impression I am artistically pure, but frankly on this show I do a whole bunch of things and they can choose to use them or not.”
By contrast he explained: “On [my ABC series] Mad As Hell I get to do exactly what I want and it is very disciplined and organised and I am running the show. It is quite nice just to turn up and perform.”
A Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation shoot could run for as long as two hours, said Micallef, before the editors get involved to polish the final product.
Micallef assured us he and the Your Gen captains will be getting messy again this season. (A segment that features one or all the competitors flinging food or liquids around the set.) “We don’t do that every episode. When we knock off two shows in one setting, usually the second of those might be messy because we don’t want to have to mop down the floors. Every second show you can expect someone to be splattered in some sort of condiment.
“As this is the second season with Nine, bigger and better is always the mantra. There is a little bit more money in the kitty and that gets spent, some time on foodstuffs.”
Of the three team captains on Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation, Micallef admits to a longer friendship with Robyn Butler (Gen x) than the youngsters Andy Lee (Gen Y) and Laurence Boxhall (Gen Z).
“I have known Robyn for years and I have done a number of programs with her. I have also worked quite a bit with her partner Wayne Hope. I came to the rebooted series knowing her very well and may be one of the reasons she agreed to do it.
“I knew Andy reasonably well and had been on the radio show with he and Hamish quite a bit. Laurence I didn’t know, but he was very good at the auditions.”
Having worked for one season together, Micallef said season two was even more of a “doddle”, although he admitted season one was not exactly “a stretch of our abilities”.
“This season was great fun. People sometimes ask me about outtakes, but I tell them the show is made up of outtakes. If anything goes wrong, or is slightly off, that is the goal. The last thing you want this show to be is smooth or slick.
“There is an under-rehearsed slip-shod quality to the show I quite like.”
One of the guests in the new season is former ABC broadcaster, and long-time fixture at Nine on Hey Hey It’s Saturday, Red Symons. “He’s a friend of mine and we catch up occasionally. We used to do it quite a lot on air. When that stopped, we said we’d probably never see each other again! But this series allows us a more formal meeting.”
The accidental host
Micallef was not in the initial plan to host the series for Nine, he told Mediaweek.
“ITV, who also produce Mad As Hell, asked me to help out with the auditions. When I was getting to work with Robyn and Andy I started to think it would be fun. Laurence is from Adelaide where I am also from and there is a limited gene pool there so I felt I knew him anyway.”