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.

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‘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.

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