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.

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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.


Spread­ing the Christ­mas cheer: Host Shaun Mi­callef with team cap­tains Amanda Keller,

Char­lie Pick­er­ing and Josh Thomas.

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