BOURNE’S NEW IDENTITY
Thank God it’s back! Guy Davis got the lowdown on the return of Thank God You’re Here, now on Seven, from its host, Shane Bourne.
‘Due to lack of dressing rooms facilities at our new studios, Shane Bourne has been given a bus to get changed in. Unfortunately, he is so tall that he has to step outside in order to put his pants on” – a possibly fictitious item from the new Thank God You’re Here press kit.
Shane Bourne hears it everywhere he goes – praise for the frantic, freewheeling improvisational comedy show Thank God You’re Here.
Mums will stop him in the street to say how nice it is to have a show the whole family can enjoy together. Teenagers yell the term of endearment “Sick!” when he informs them that it is returning to TV after a year-long hiatus.
Yes, it’s true, thrillseekers (to borrow one of Bourne’s own terms of endearment), Thank God You’re Here is coming back. And it’s on a new station, with Seven taking custody from Ten.
“We love making this show, and we’re quite protective of it,” said executive producer Michael Hirsh. “That’s why we took 2008 off, to keep the concept fresh and to work on some other ideas. We’re delighted to now be launching a brand-new series on Channel Seven.”
It’s brand-new all right, but devotees of Thank God You’re Here shouldn’t fret too much. The original ensemble cast of players is back. Compassionate judge Tom Gleisner has returned. Even the famous blue door the players go through en route to their scenarios has made the transition.
Bourne’s back as well, of course. And he is making the most of his break from playing top cop Stanley Wolfe on Seven’s successful City Homicide to really rip into his hosting duties on Thank God You’re Here.
“When I did the first season of City Homicide, I did both shows concurrently, which was fine,” he said. “But I think when we’re relaunching the show after a year’s break and on a new network, it’s good to have enough energy to completely savour it.”
According to Bourne, the move from one network to another has been “pretty seamless”, with the changes that have taken place – such as shooting the show at the Melbourne Showgrounds – only serving to enhance the whole shebang.
“The Showgrounds have been terrific,” he said. “They have kind of upped the ante in some areas. The sets are bigger and better, which allows for more spectacular scenarios.”
( While Bourne wouldn’t be drawn on just how spectacular, viewers should brace themselves for industrial farm equipment and livestock in the first few episodes.)
Some things haven’t changed, however, such as appearances by Thank God You’re Here favourites like Angus Sampson and Hamish Blake. Bourne states, though, that there will be at least one newbie each episode. Such as Seven personalities, Shane? “Well, I believe Kochie is champing at the bit,” he replied.
And then there’s “the adrenalin rush, the fear and trepidation and then the extraordinary sense of relief and achievement” that accompanies every performance.
“It really is the kind of show that provides that kind of explosive, spontaneous laughter,” said Bourne.
New beginning: Judge Tom Gleisner (left) and host Shane Bourne.