DIGGING through the dusty vaults of the ABC has proved manna from heaven for self-confessed daggy dancer and owner of a dodgy haircut in the 1980s, Merrick Watts.
Making fun with archival facts and footage is at the heart of Tractor Monkeys, the new game show where Watts can let out his inner Larry Emdur. From radio, to acting, now hosting a TVgame show, you are the quintessential multi-media player, Mr Watts. I prefer to think of myself as a media whore, but it’s just worked out the way it has. Tractor Monkeys is a little bit different from what I have done. It’s a quiz show on the ABC but it’s something I have always wanted to do. So your inner Larry Emdur has been busting to come out? Absolutely. I love game shows, they’re popular for a reason and when this one came up it seemed like the perfect fit. Many will see similarities with (UK series) QI and The Chaser’s version of The Unbelievable Truth. What was the appeal of this format for you? I love nostalgia. When I look back at pictures of myself in, say, the ’80s and you go, ‘I can’t believe at the time, I thought that was not only acceptable but downright cool.’ This show is like looking at the country’s hair cut 20 years ago. This is your first time hosting a project on your own, not part of the double act many know you from on radio as Merrick and Rosso (Tim Ross). Why now? I wanted to do something on my own to see how I’d go. Much was made about your split with Rosso. Howare thingsnowand what were your reasons for parting? We saw ourselves as individuals and started as individuals. We’ve both gone on to do different things and forged separate careers and in terms of what I’m doing, I’m the happiest I have been in a long time. I amworking with great people and stoked with the jobs I’ve been asked to do. Rosso always said the day will come (the duo) would come to an end. It was something I had never thought about. We had done everything we wanted to do and could do together. It’s all amicable, we just don’t do the same things. We’ve always been very different people, just with the same sense of humour. You’ve tried your hand at a bit of acting. Any more roles on the horizon? I have never done lessons, I was just lucky to get started with the guys from Working Dog (on ABC political satire The Hollowmen). I told them I don’t know how to act and they said don’t worry. If anything they taught me how not to act. After (recent appearances), I think I’ve been typecast as a corpse. But I like acting, it’s great fun. Tractor Monkeys, ABC1, tonight, 8.30pm