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