TALKIN’ ’ BOUT YOUR GENERATION
Ten has an early Christmas present for its viewers: a Talkin’ ’ Bout Your Generation special. Guy Davis pulled a cracker or two with its host, Shaun Micallef.
SHAUN MICALLEF GETS FESTIVE FOR
Shaun Micallef’s newly enhanced popularity has ensured he will not be spending Christmas alone. Instead, rallying up his trio of helpers, he will put on a joyful, generation-bridging event. This year will go down as the time that Shaun Micallef and the Australian TV audience clicked. For a while now, the wildly inventive comic talent has been something of an acquired taste, with his self-titled ABC sketch-comedy series and his SBS current-affairs parody Newstopia well-regarded but not widely seen.
And efforts to bring Micallef into the mainstream, like his short-lived Nine variety show, weren’t entirely successful.
But when he landed the role of hosting Ten’s new quiz show Talkin’ ’ Bout Your
Generation, which tests the pop-culture wisdom of Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y, everything seemed to fall into place.
The program attracted more than a million viewers a week, making it one of the year’s most popular new shows, and Micallef’s distinctive comic style was seen as one of the main drawcards.
So there’s little wonder that the network has made him its go-to guy for holiday season cheer, with Micallef not only presenting a Christmas episode of Talkin’ ’ Bout Your Generation but also fronting Ten’s New Year’s Eve special.
Shaun Micallef’s New Year’s Rave – “ it sounds exactly like what I wouldn’t be doing on New Year’s Eve” – is inspired by the December 31 specials of yesteryear hosted by the likes of Bing Crosby, said Micallef.
“ They’d supposedly take place at the person’s home and ‘ friends’ like David Bowie would turn up to sing The Little Drummer Boy around the piano,” he said.
“ If it goes well, I’m more than happy to do all the major holidays. A Father’s Day special would be nice, wouldn’t it?”
Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Instead, let’s discuss the Generation Christmas special, which reunites Micallef and team captains Amanda Keller, Charlie Pickering and Josh Thomas with guests Denise Scott, Dylan Lewis and Ruby Rose.
“ They all had nice Christmas stories to share,” said Micallef, adding that a general sense of seasonal cheer was what the program aimed to achieve.
“ Sometimes when you watch a Christmas special, it’ll have a slightly cynical attitude, with jokes being made about Christmas,” he said.
“ We didn’t want to do that; we wanted to embrace it warmly and kindly and have laughs that weren’t at the expense of Christmas.
“ So Father Christmas is treated with the respect he deserves on this special. OK, he maybe gets a lizard put on him at one stage but otherwise it’s very respectful.”
When considering the success of Talkin’ ’ Bout Your Generation in 2009, Micallef is quick to point out the invaluable contributions of his co-stars and the team behind the scenes. And he admits that he hasn’t really switched gears as a performer or presenter.
“ From my perspective, I’m not doing anything different to what I was doing on Newstopia last year,” he said.
“ This time around, my brief is a bit different but my sense of humour hasn’t changed. And no one has been told not to do anything.
“ They did look a bit bewildered when I said I wanted to dress up at Robert Smith from The Cure for the last episode but they let me do it, which is an odd thing to do on a commercial program.
“ And I’m happy it’s gone well and that a lot of people are watching it, but I’m making the show the same way I make everything I’m involved with – with as much care and attention to detail as possible.”
Micallef admits, however, that he’s glad Generation’s popularity “ might have extended my shelf life on commercial television by a few years”.
“ Until this program, I might have been viewed as something of a marginal act, and that maybe I burned my bridges when I did my Channel Nine program,” he laughed. “ It’s nice not to be out of step with commercial sensibilities.”
Talkin’ ’ Bout Your Generation will return to the Ten line-up in 2010, with the same trio of captains and a new array of contestants.
7 DAY TV GUIDE
Spreading the Christmas cheer: Host Shaun Micallef with team captains Amanda Keller,
Charlie Pickering and Josh Thomas.