Bulldust cen­tral

Work­ing Dog’s hit show is go­ing out with a bang af­ter its first year at Chan­nel 7, writes Me­gan Miller

Herald Sun - Switched On - - News -

WORD’S out, and the halls of Vic­to­ria Uni­ver­sity’s Footscray cam­pus are sud­denly packed with rub­ber­neck­ing stu­dents ea­ger for a peek at what’s go­ing on in front of the cam­eras.

Work­ing Dog’s Rob Sitch is di­rect­ing a scene and Santo Ci­lauro is scam­per­ing for the best van­tage points for his hand-held cam­era.

But that’s not who the stu­dents are cran­ing to see.

A sign stuck to an up­stairs win­dow that reads ‘‘Hamish, come to L201’’ leaves no doubt.

When ra­dio fun­ny­man Hamish Blake fi­nally emerges, girls gig­gle and whis­per to each other.

When he steps into full view, the gig­gles turn to peals of laugh­ter be­cause he’s dressed in sweats and a school tie.

The sce­nario — in­spired by the mega-hit US show High School Mu­si­cal and a dash of dance flick Cen­tre Stage, a per­sonal favourite of Sitch’s — will form part of Thank God You’re Here’s sea­son fi­nale.

Work­ing Dog’s ethos has al­ways been about do­ing it big­ger and big­ger or not at all, and the pro­duc­tion val­ues on set prove that.

It also re­flects the bumped-up bud­get the show has had to play with since jump­ing ship from Chan­nel 10 to Chan­nel 7.

The 90-minute fi­nale will fea­ture five guests walk­ing through the blue door rather than the usual four. Join­ing Blake will be ac­tors An­gus Samp­son, Toby Truslove and Josh Law­son, and co­me­dian Fe­lic­ity Ward.

And for this par­tic­u­lar pr­ere­corded scene — one of the most am­bi­tious in TGYH’s four-sea­son his­tory — there are more than 100 ex­tras to be wran­gled.

About 30 of them are pro­fes­sional dancers, a whirl of flu­o­res­cent ly­cra and Fame-style leg warm­ers as they re­hearse their high-volt­age rou­tine be­fore the doors open and the five guests milk the scene for ev­ery last drop of com­edy.

Blake is loving chan­nelling High School Mu­si­cal teen heart­throb Zac Efron, who plays bas­ket­ball star Troy Bolton in the Dis­ney films.

‘‘There’s a scary amount of Efron go­ing on,’’ he says to­wards the end of the shoot.

‘‘I’m like Efron with curly hair and some muf­fin-top­ping hap­pen­ing over my bas­ket­ball shorts.

‘‘My char­ac­ter’s a bit of a bas­ket­ball bad boy. It’s also sort of my life, too. I had an NBL ring in the drive­way grow­ing up.’’

Blake still has nerves de­spite be­ing a 10-stint vet­eran of the show. But the but­ter­flies are a good thing. They help keep the show fresh.

De­spite his sketch-com­edy show with ra­dio buddy Andy Lee be­ing dumped by Seven in 2004 be­cause of poor rat­ings, Blake has found suc­cess on the small screen as a solo per­former. He reg­u­larly crosses net­works on Ten’s Rove, ABC1’s Spicks and Specks and on TGYH.

He also starred in the first two episodes of the Bri­tish ver­sion of TGYH early last year. One re­viewer called him ‘‘a nat­u­rally sharp and funny guy’’.

Work­ing Dog’s Jane Kennedy, who does the cast­ing for TGYH, knows the power of Blake’s pop­u­lar­ity.

SHE’S also clearly a fan. ‘‘Hamish has a re­ally great abil­ity to bulldust,’’ she says. ‘‘Fright­en­ingly, it comes very nat­u­rally to him, but along with a bit of charm, which goes a long way.

‘‘I think his ap­peal is that, as much as girls love him, guys en­joy him just as much. It helps that he ap­peals to both sexes. Also, he doesn’t seem to stuff up. We can throw him into any sit­u­a­tion.

‘‘The joy on his face is a lit­tle scary. I wouldn’t be sur­prised if they all take up se­cret danc­ing lessons af­ter this.’’ Thank God You’re Here, PG Chan­nel 7, tonight, 7.30pm Im­pro­vised laughs Du­ra­tion: 90 min­utes

But­ter­flies: Hamish Blake, chan­nelling Zac Efron with curly hair and some muf­fin-top, still gets ner­vous do­ing TGYH.

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