Run off

Chan­nel 10 has big plans for Shaun Mi­callef, writes Colin Vick­ery

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Cover Story -

HAMISH Blake and Andy Lee may have slipped from Chan­nel 10’s grasp, but the net­work can rest as­sured Shaun Mi­callef isn’t about to fol­low them out the door.

While Blake and Lee ap­pear to have been lured by a bigbucks of­fer from Chan­nel 9, Talkin’ ’Bout Your Gen­er­a­tion host Mi­callef is feel­ing so at home at Ten that he is de­vel­op­ing a raft of com­edy projects for the net­work.

First up is a live va­ri­ety show. This year has al­ready seen the de­but of Adam Hills in Gor­don St Tonight and Mi­callef wants to join the party.

‘‘ I’m do­ing a pilot in July,’’ Mi­callef says. ‘‘ Any va­ri­ety show worth its salt is live. There’s a big taste for that at the mo­ment.

‘‘ I’m also talk­ing to Ten (about other projects). I think the re­la­tion­ship with Ten has been a good one and it would be nice to build on it.’’

The move to Ten in 2009 to host Talkin’ has been a ca­reer­changer for Mi­callef.

Be­fore then, the 48-year-old for­mer mo­tor-in­surance lawyer was a cult fig­ure who couldn’t buy a viewer on a com­mer­cial net­work.

SBS’s New­stopia and the ABC’s sketch show The Mi­callef Pro­gram won ac­claim, but Mi­callef’s big ven­ture into com­mer­cial tele­vi­sion, Nine’s

Mi­callef Tonight, was a rat­ings dud. All that changed with Talkin’, which was the per­fect fit of pop-cul­ture pro­gram, for­mat and host.

There was an im­me­di­ate rap­port be­tween Mi­callef and team cap­tains Amanda Keller, Char­lie Pick­er­ing and Josh Thomas.

Bet­ter yet, the sur­real, free­wheel­ing lu­nacy that has made the show such a rat­ings suc­cess seems as if it is chan­nelled di­rectly from Mi­callef’s mind.

‘‘ This is the third year for a pro­gram which in­volves me, which is a cause for cel­e­bra­tion,’’ says Mi­callef with trade­mark hu­mil­ity.

‘‘ I’m cer­tainly a lot more re­laxed on this show than I have ever been on any­thing.’’

It is re­lax­ation that is the key. For a long time peo­ple won­dered if they would see the real Shaun Mi­callef.

Like one of his heroes, Peter Sell­ers, Mi­callef seemed to dis­ap­pear into his comic char­ac­ters.

Even when he hosted Mi­callef Tonight, which bore his name, he was ‘‘ play­ing’’ him­self rather than ‘‘ be­ing’’ him­self. Talkin’ is the clos­est we’ve seen to the real Mi­callef.

‘‘ I re­mem­ber my wife (Le­an­dra) watch­ing the show when it first came on and she

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