Eddie locks it in

Af­ter three decades in tele­vi­sion , Eddie McGuire is still at the top of his game, writes Dar­ren Dev­lyn

Herald Sun - Switched On - - On The Couch -

AS he cel­e­brates his 30th an­niver­sary in TV, Eddie McGuire’s in a re­flec­tive mood. McGuire, who first stared down the lens when work­ing as a re­porter for Chan­nel 10 in 1982, tells how his ap­proach to ca­reer — and life — has not changed since his child­hood in rough-and-tum­ble Broad­mead­ows.

His phi­los­o­phy is based on ig­nor­ing the doubters, not stress­ing about fail­ure, and hav­ing a red-hot go.

McGuire reels off a long list of names who helped him get his start or sup­ported him in his early days in TV, but there’s no dis­put­ing his fam­ily had the big­gest im­pact.

His dad, Ed­ward, was born in Scot­land in 1918, worked in the coalmines in Glas­gow and served dur­ingWorld War II.

TV has given mea life­style my­par­ents couldn’t have dreamed about

In 1958, Ed­ward and his wife, Bri­die, moved to Broad­mead­ows to en­sure they could give their fam­ily a bet­ter life.

They lit­er­ally landed here with two kids, two suit­cases and £5 in March 1958,’’ McGuire says.

My dad’s great pride was that 12 months to the day of land­ing in Aus­tralia, he walked into his own house (a con­crete Hous­ing Com­mis­sion home), which he thought was paradise.’’

Ed­ward dug ditches and Bri­die worked on assem­bly lines to give their chil­dren Eddie, Frank, Eve­lyn and Brigette the best pos­si­ble ed­u­ca­tion.

Mum had the hard de­ter­mi­na­tion; Dad was tough, but also vi­va­cious. They sac­ri­ficed ev­ery­thing for us,’’ McGuire says.

No sur­prise McGuire was deeply sad­dened by Ed­ward’s death at 94 in De­cem­ber.

McGuire saw his dad for the last time be­fore head­ing to a cricket match at the MCG.

One of the last things he said to me was, Get on with it, get to the cricket’ and he died two hours later. He wanted to have some space (to pass).’’

His fa­ther is in his thoughts when McGuire re­calls the day in 1982 that Chan­nel 10’s David John­ston phoned the McGuires’ home to of­fer Year 12 stu­dent Eddie the op­por­tu­nity to work for the net­work on week­ends.

‘‘ Ten min­utes later Dad drove in the front gate,’’ McGuire says.

‘‘ He said later that all he could see was the front door slam open and me pretty much long-jump­ing from the front step to the gate. He said he didn’t know what was go­ing on, that maybe the house had caught fire.

‘‘ Be­ing at Chan­nel 10 was a won­der­ful time in my life.’’

McGuire pro­gressed from re­porter to be­ing given the first ded­i­cated football round.

In 1994 he was poached by Chan­nel 9, and The Footy Show — the show many said would never work be­cause it didn’t have the rights to tele­cast match footage — be­came a mon­ster hit.

McGuire’s high­lights since join­ing Nine have in­cluded the first Grand Fi­nal edition of The Footy Show in front of 15,000 at Rod Laver Arena, pre­sent­ing the show from the The­atre Royal in Lon­don, and scor­ing the host­ing job on Mil­lion­aire.

‘‘ The Footy Show was fan­tas­tic. I was so lucky to have a bloke who was a guardian an­gel on my shoul­der, Ian John­son, who be­lieved in me,’’ McGuire says.

It’s easy to see why McGuire, who cov­ered the Lon­don Olympics for both Nine and Fox­tel, is in one of the hap­pi­est phases of his ca­reer. He splits his time be­tween his Triple M break­fast ra­dio show, quiz show Hot Seat, Fox Footy chat show EMT, match-call­ing du­ties, and Colling­wood Football Club pres­i­dent.

The most chal­leng­ing time in his TV life came when McGuire took on the CEO role at Nine six weeks af­ter the death of Kerry Packer in De­cem­ber 2005. He was promised a man­date to boost an ail­ing pro­duc­tion sched­ule, but the job soon be­came about sav­age cost-cut­ting.

He did, how­ever, man­age to play a cen­tral role in rein­vig­o­rat­ing lo­cal drama pro­duc­tion, com­mis­sion­ing shows in­clud­ing Sea Pa­trol and Un­der­belly. ‘‘ Was it hard in Sydney? Of course it was hard,’’ McGuire says of his stint as CEO.

‘‘ It tested me in so many ways. For the first time there was a blip in my ca­reer, but I took it prag­mat­i­cally.

‘‘ Did I get treated un­fairly by the me­dia in Sydney? Yeah, I think ev­ery­one in­clud­ing those do­ing the writ­ing con­cede that. But bad luck, boo hoo. It all helps you keep sta­ble in your mind. For the ben­e­fit of me as a fa­ther and a per­son down the track, maybe I needed a bit of a clip of the wings at that stage — not that I en­joyed it. But it hasn’t set me back in any­thing I do and I’m de­lighted I’ve re­mained at the net­work, in con­junc­tion with my role at Fox­tel.

‘‘ There are things I did right and wrong (as CEO) but the rest of the time I’ve lived the dream. TV has given me a life­style my par­ents couldn’t have dreamed about.’’

McGuire has long be­lieved that if you have a pub­lic pro­file you must ac­cept ‘‘ you’re go­ing to get belted along the way’’, but he has se­ri­ous con­cerns about the im­pact of criticism via so­cial me­dia.

He was the sub­ject of Twit­ter barbs dur­ing the Olympics. ‘‘ Even the worst me­dia have a fil­ter sys­tem. The level of per­sonal abuse is an area we’ve not had be­fore. There has to be a mech­a­nism in there so peo­ple do not suf­fer as a re­sult. I am ugly and strong enough to know if I’ve done a good job or not.

The worry is for the new peo­ple com­ing through.’’

Snap­shots: Ed­ward and Bri­die McGuire with Frank and sis­ter Eve­lyn (top left); Eddie and his sis­ter, Brigette (top right); the for­mer fam­ily home (above).

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