That’s enough Rope for Denton
ANDREW Denton is to the ABC what Eddie McGuire was to Channel 9 — the everywhere man.
And like McGuire, we’re about to see less of Denton on screen.
The ABC can’t get enough of Denton— whether it’s fronting Enough Rope and Elders or working behind the scenes on The Gruen Transfer— but Denton feels no desire to maintain a public profile simply for the sake of it.
While a second series of The Gruen Transfer is confirmed for 2009, Denton has announced Enough Rope has run its course. Denton will instead pour his energies into 30 Seconds, an eight- part Foxtel satirical drama set in the advertising industry.
After six seasons of Enough Rope, Denton confesses there’s much less stress involved in making a television show ‘‘when you are not in it’’.
Denton adopts the philosophy of Working Dog productions, renowned for Frontline, The Panel, Thank God You’re Here and The Hollowmen— ‘‘do something great and take a break rather than beat it to death’’.
While he appears uncomfortable when an interviewee takes him out of his comfort zone and challenges his sense of control (Gordon Ramsay being a recent example), Denton insists the interviews he loves the most are the ones that ‘‘go entirely off the rails’’.
He refers to Rene Rivkin, Richard E Grant and Miriam Margoyles.
‘‘Coming from a background of improv, these interviews are the most enjoyable,’’ he says.
Perhaps the key to the show’s success lies in Denton’s final instruction to himself as he walks onto the set—‘‘the best thing I can tell myself is to forget the preparation’’.
Denton’s guests are often amazed at the information he has gathered and can recall— without a clipboard or autocue— during the interview.
The reason he says, is because the interview has to be enjoyable for his guests, and people are flattered when you take an interest in their lives.
Recently, his probing in interviews has been called into question. He was criticised for asking former White House journalist Helen Thomas what it was like caring for a husband who has Alzheimer’s disease.
Denton admits the Thomas interview ‘‘was a hard thing to be in, and a hard thing to watch’’.
‘‘It would have been easy to take it out and I knew it would play badly for me, but we are trying to do an honest show and along the way I show my own flaws and even ask a gauche question. The show is never about making me look great because that doesn’t make it work.’’
New role: Andrew Denton will spend more time behind the scenes.