Float­ing on air

An­drew O’Keefe is on a high as The Chase Aus­tralia tri­umphs in the rat­ings

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE -

“EV­ERY­ONE wants to be on top,” The Chase Aus­tralia’s

host An­drew O’Keefe says, “whether it’s a mat­ter of pride, or the more practical mat­ter of em­ploy­ment.”

O’Keefe knows all about that. In 2013, hav­ing spent much of 11 years of his life churning through five shows a day “in front of 150 scream­ing ma­ni­acs” on Deal or No

Deal, Chan­nel Seven pulled the pin. Although Deal had seen off six other chal­lengers, Nine’s ri­val

Hot Seat had ended up vic­to­ri­ous. For 18 months O’Keefe was un­der­em­ployed, host­ing Week­end

Sun­rise in Sydney and do­ing “a few lit­tle theatre things”.

De­spite not re­ally un­der­stand­ing what The Chase was – or even think­ing it’d work – he agreed to host on the ad­vice of his ac­coun­tant be­cause, “You’ve got to keep the wolves from the door”.

With its first birth­day fast ap­proach­ing, The Chase Aus­tralia is dom­i­nat­ing the all-im­por­tant battle of the game shows – 1.3 mil­lion view­ers tune in some nights, with al­most four mil­lion Aus­tralians watch­ing at least some of the show in any given week. And rather sat­is­fy­ingly, it’s beat­ing

Hot Seat by 100,000 view­ers in the ci­ties and 350,000 na­tion­ally.

O’Keefe – suf­fer­ing jet lag from a trip to Si­cily, yet in the mid­dle of record­ing nine new episodes – says the rat­ings are noth­ing short of re­mark­able.

“That’s re­ally grat­i­fy­ing be­cause it’s very sel­dom you have a show out­side of official prime-time hours that cracks the top 10, and we seem to be do­ing it with some reg­u­lar­ity and out­rat­ing a num­ber of mar­quee shows that are in prime time,” he says.

And those rat­ings are only set to in­crease through Au­gust thanks to Seven’s de­ci­sion to run The Chase through­out the Olympics, ex­pos­ing it to a whole new au­di­ence.

“It’s an­other great op­por­tu­nity,” O’Keefe says.

“I’ve found most peo­ple who’ve viewed it like it and re­turn – it’s a mat­ter of get­ting them to view it in the first place. Whereas

Deal, as fun and fan­tas­tic as it was, sim­ply didn’t ap­peal to some peo­ple. Ob­vi­ously if you were deeply en­am­oured of lug­gage you’d con­tinue to watch!”

Seven’s di­rec­tor of pro­gram­ming An­gus Ross says they chose

The Chase as a re­place­ment for the strug­gling Mil­lion Dol­lar

Minute with one sim­ple goal: to in­crease rat­ings for the news. “We thought it’s the per­fect mix­ture of quiz and en­ter­tain­ment,” he says. “We also thought the Fi­nal Chase is ab­so­lutely riv­et­ing and takes you di­rectly into the 6pm news.” The plan has worked: com­pared with the same time last year, Seven’s news is up 23 per cent in Mel­bourne, 15 per cent in Sydney and 18 per cent in Bris­bane. “The whole slot from 5pm to 6pm has be­come in­creas­ingly im­por­tant over the years as … au­di­ences are less

rusted on to one news ser­vice than an­other,” O’Keefe says. “So, yeah, it’s a great lead-in and I’m led to be­lieve it’s boosted the news share in all of the mar­kets around Aus­tralia.

“And as long as that re­mains the case, I guess I’ll have a job.”

O’Keefe says he knew the show could be great the first time he met The Chasers: “The Shark” Bry­don Coverdale, “The Governess” Anne Hegerty, “Go­liath” Matt Parkin­son, “The Su­pern­erd” Issa Schultz and re­cent UK im­port “The Beast” Mark Lab­bett.

“I re­alised what a won­der­ful, en­ter­tain­ing and in­cred­i­bly im­pres­sive group of peo­ple they were and I thought, ‘Well, tally ho – I’m not the star of the show any more’,” he says.

Th­ese big per­son­al­i­ties are a big part of the ap­peal.

“As a viewer, you win re­gard­less of who wins the day in the quiz, be­cause it’s just as sat­is­fy­ing to see the ex­traor­di­nary men­tal dex­ter­ity of those Chasers win­ning out as it is to see a bunch of gutsy con­tes­tants win­ning out,” O’Keefe says.

The fast pace also helps – the fi­nal two min­utes can have more ques­tions than an en­tire episode of Hot Seat.

“In an era when you can google any­thing in five sec­onds, I’m not sure it makes sense to tarry too long over any par­tic­u­lar ques­tion, so we re­ally do keep it mov­ing,” he says.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.