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