HEY, HO, LET’S GO!

It was a piv­otal part of Aus­tralian TV for nearly 30 years. Now Hey Hey It’s Satur­day is back for two nights only, so what can view­ers ex­pect? TV leg­end Daryl Somers gave Guy Davis a few clues.

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It’s been 10 years since Hey Hey It’s Satur­day called it a day, but did the much-loved Chan­nel Nine va­ri­ety show ever re­ally go away?

Whether it’s in the fond mem­o­ries of view­ers who tuned in re­li­giously ev­ery Satur­day night or the dis­cov­ery of the show by a new gen­er­a­tion who watch clips of Hey Hey on in­ter­net sites like YouTube, the any­thing-goes pro­gram has re­mained a part of Aus­tralian tele­vi­sion, even though a decade has passed since its last episode.

And now Hey Hey It’s Satur­day is mak­ing a come­back – a brief, blaze-of-glory come­back, but a come­back none­the­less. Fol­low­ing a grass-roots resur­gence that be­gan on so­cial net­work­ing web­site Face­book, Nine is air­ing two re­union spe­cials that will bring to­gether al­most ev­ery mem­ber of the show’s orig­i­nal cast.

Man of a thou­sand voices John Black­man, acer­bic tal­ent-quest judge Red Sy­mons, en­er­getic band leader Wil­bur Wilde, mu­sic guru Molly Mel­drum, adorable side­kick Livinia Nixon, knock­about co­me­dian Rus­sell Gil­bert … they’ll all be back.

But it wouldn’t be Hey Hey without its front­man, Daryl Somers, and his pink­feath­ered off sider Ossie Ostrich ( brought to life by pup­peteer Ernie Car­roll). So they’re re­turn­ing as well, and Somers couldn’t be hap­pier about the high level of au­di­ence an­tic­i­pa­tion sur­round­ing the two spe­cials.

He ad­mits, how­ever, to be­ing sur­prised by the sheer num­ber of peo­ple keen to see Hey Hey re­turn, es­pe­cially when he fi rst heard about the Face­book cam­paign started by Corinne Lawrence, a long-time fan.

“ When Corinne fi rst con­tacted me, she said the show had 3878 fans on Face­book, which I thought was ter­rifi c,” said Somers.

“ Then it reached around 10,000, and I didn’t have any idea about what con­sti­tuted a re­ally big re­sponse un­til I was told MasterChef Aus­tralia had 10,000 Face­book fans when it was re­ally hot.”

Since then, the on­line fan base has ex­ploded, and Hey Hey It’s Satur­day now has 200,000 Face­book fans. Not bad for a show that hasn’t been on TV for 10 years.

“ I kind of liken Hey Hey to Vegemite,” said Somers with a laugh. “ We plod­ded away on Satur­day morn­ings for 14 years, then went to night time and did an­other 14 years there, and peo­ple feel comfortable with it. They claim it. They own it.”

In ad­di­tion to air­ing on Chan­nel Nine over two Wed­nes­day nights, the Hey Hey re­union spe­cials will also be streamed live over the in­ter­net, al­low­ing Aussie ex­pa­tri­ates around the world to en­joy a bit of a stroll down mem­ory lane.

And ac­cord­ing to Somers, there’ll be plenty of peo­ple do­ing so in coun­tries all over the globe. “ There’s one bloke in Amer­ica who’s hav­ing 150 peo­ple over to his place in At­lanta for a Hey Hey party,” said Somers. “ This is truly an in­ter­na­tional event.”

So what will the spe­cials in­volve? “ It’s more a mat­ter of what we have to leave out,” said Somers. In ad­di­tion to a re­union of the old Hey Hey gang, favourite seg­ments like Red Faces ( a tal­ent quest that’s of­ten short on tal­ent) and Wot Cheezes Me Orf ( in which view­ers vent their frus­tra­tion over var­i­ous griev­ances) will be reprised.

And there’ll be vis­its by lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional guests, as well as a few sur­prises that Somers is keep­ing un­der his hat.

“ It’s a joy that we’re all able to be to­gether on it, that we’re able to do it,” he said. “ We’re quite touched be­cause it’s been a mag­nifi cent part of our lives.”

As en­joy­able as putting the gang back to­gether has been for Somers and his col­leagues, though, he hopes it’ll be just as en­joy­able for Hey Hey’s le­gion of fans.

“ This show has a cer­tain cur­rency – it was al­ways like we were do­ing the show with the au­di­ence, not for the au­di­ence,” he said. “ They got in­volved in any num­ber of seg­ments that would in­volve them, which is why they claim own­er­ship of it.”

So it begs the ques­tion: is this the beginning of a new era for Hey Hey It’s Satur­day? Are th­ese re­union spe­cials re­boot­ing the show?

Prob­a­bly not, ac­cord­ing to Somers. “ We re­alise this is the last roll of the dice,” he stated. “ For all of the peo­ple who fol­lowed the show for all of those years, this will be the last time they get to see those peo­ple all to­gether do­ing what we used to do and hav­ing so much fun do­ing it.”

The old gang: Most of the orig­i­nal faces from Hey Hey It’s Satur­day’s glory days will be re­turn­ing for the re­union spe­cials.

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