It’s party time for three wise monkeys
The Footy Show defies its critics to notch up 20 years. Sam Newman tells Darren Devlyn how he, Garry and James stay ahead of the game
SAMNewman’s never had any time for the ‘‘ vocal minority’’ who knock The Footy Show for its shenanigans and alleged political incorrectness.
As far as he’s concerned, the score’s on the board. Tomorrow night, the show begins its 20th year — not a bad effort when you’re a success in TV if you can pull a decent audience for 13 weeks.
Newman has delivered many of The Footy Show’s most memorable moments— sitting guests down in the studio and eliciting revealing answers to intelligent questions. But the serious side of his contribution has on many occasions been overshadowed by the wild stunts he’s pulled and for the controversies that have erupted around him.
This year The Footy Show moves to an 8.30pm timeslot.
You’re looking pretty fit. If you haven’t got a good reason to let yourself go, why do it? I don’t know if I look better, but certainly feel better. I exercise, eat properly. I haven’t had a drink for three years.
What prompted you to give it up? I have a couple of cars I like to drive. If I ever went to lunch or dinner, I could never work out how many drinks I’d had. I decided I’d give up for that reason, so it wasn’t a problem when I drove.
What does the milestone (20th year of The Footy Show) mean to you? It’s better to have lasted than not lasted. We have survived, I suppose that is an achievement.
I’d have thought the milestone would mean a lot to you given your basic philosophy that every day you’re at work is a day closer to getting the a---. We’re only filling in time until we get sacked. One day it will happen. As long as it’s not a surprise when it does.
What have been the most satisfying things that have come out of being part of the show? Despite what the screaming masses out there say, we are actually a very serious football show at times and touch on some important points. The most memorable part for me has been Street Talk. The only people who don’t complain (about Street Talk) are the peoplewe interview. They love it. My eyes glaze over when people criticise us for things we do. When people see us on the street (filming), they circle you, go backwards and forwards, and suddenly go whack, ‘here ismy chance’. We are very fair. We put people on who abuse us, who like us, kiss us, punch us, throw things at us. Usually people think it’s a chance to be really risque, get their kit off or make politically incorrect statements.
Have the serious footy interviews you’ve done been overshadowed by the other stuff? I don’t care if I get recognition or not. I’m only interested in the show being successful. We don’t fight each other for airtime or fight over things to say. We are generous with each other. I might be wet behind the ears but that’s how I’d describe it.
You were recently reported as saying that the network wasn’t behind the show. Ah, well, I was absolutely misrepresented. I got dressed down about this. I didn’t say they (Nine) are not interested in us being successful. They are very interested in us being successful, but we hardly rated a mention in the overall selling of this year’s product for the station (at a network programming launch). I was called into the head office and berated so I accepted being berated.
What does the move in timeslot mean to you? It makes no difference to me. I just get to bed an hour earlier.
But going an hour earlier ... I know what you’re going to say. It puts us in a different rating category, so I might be reasonably silent for the first hour of the show, let Garry (Lyon) and Jim (Brayshaw) push on with it and I can catch up on all the news that’s been going on in the AFL.
Such as at Essendon and Melbourne? I have never heard so much nonsense in all my life. Hysterical bleating. What has been done to Essendon is an absolute disgrace. The same with Melbourne. The other thing that has just come out is about head injuries, people losing their memory. Honestly and truly, what is going on? Maybe I was always this stupid, but I don’t think football made me more stupid. Don’t play the game if you don’t want to. You have a duty of care to decide what you do in life. That doesn’t mean to say you have to put up with snide king hits, that is not what we’re talking about. If you don’t think you can handle it, go and do something else. Does having your profile affect thewayyou live life, howoften and where you go out? Yeah. We have a different set of rules, people like us (with a public profile). A man spat at me over in Munich (at the filming of a Footy Show World Cup special). I just poked him on the nose. Luckily we had the cameras rolling or I would have been up on an assault charge. The cowards know you are hamstrung because they know you will be the story, not them. Do you sometimes pay a bigger price for this life than you’d like? No. There’s only one thing in life you’ve got to do and that’s die. You don’t have to do any of this if you don’t want to. It sounds like I’m whinging but I’m not, I’m just giving you the objective side of what it’s about. Tell us about some of the moments on the show that have given you nightmares. I’ve jumped out of a plane on my own, bungy-jumped at Victoria Falls, I’ve driven around Bathurst in a car race, but standing on the 10-metre board at Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre is the scariest thing I’ve done. I ruptured a hernia, but that didn’t make it scary because that didn’t happen until I hit the water. What about some of the Shane Crawford incidents? He sat on your face once. He punched me out of a ring and I landed on my head. I had a brain scan at the Epworth. He did also sit on my face. I wonder how many other people he’s done that to, and what were their names. The Footy Show, Channel 9, Thursday, 8.30pm
Kicking goals: Footy Show stars James Brayshaw, Garry Lyon and Sam Newman have an earlier timeslot for the show’s landmark 20th year.