Mu­sic to his ears

Dar­ren McMullen says the time is just right for his fun new mu­sic quiz show. By HOLLY BYRNES

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - NEWS -

FOR the guy who is ar­guably Aus­tralian TV’s safest pair of hands for fam­ily-friendly view­ing, Dar­ren McMullen knows how to grab a head­line.

The charm­ing Scot­tish-born, Mel­bourne-raised pre­sen­ter, who took Chan­nel Nine’s singing con­test The Voice to the top of the rat­ings when it launched five years ago, has switched sta­tions and va­ri­ety shows to front Seven’s “fun-tas­tic” new shiny floor se­ries The Big Mu­sic Quiz.

Inof­fen­sive stuff, you would have thought, but even be­fore it hit the air McMullen weighed into the con­tro­versy sparked by his for­mer Voice co-host So­nia Kruger, call­ing her out on com­ments about Mus­lim im­mi­gra­tion and po­lar­is­ing the same au­di­ence she di­vided.

Not that it both­ers this brave heart, who stands com­fort­ably on his soap­box and marches to the beat of his own drum.

Ask him about “com­ing home” to Aus­tralia, from his base in Los An­ge­les and the 34-year-old gives a five-minute mono­logue on the par­lous state of US pol­i­tics and why the world needs the laugh­ter and light of a show like his Quiz.

“I wake up to news up­dates from CNN and the NY Times ev­ery sin­gle morn­ing,” he says.

“A mas­sacre here, a mas­sacre there, a clown tak­ing over the Repub­li­can Party and it’s a scary, scary world. It’s good to be able to tune out and have some light relief.”

This is light en­ter­tain­ment at its cheesy best: with two celebrity teams bat­tling it out over pop­u­lar mu­sic and artists while the au­di­ence – who openly shout out an­swers – dance and sing along like it’s a ware­house rave party.

The stakes are low, with no ma­jor prizes other than the re­ward of win­ning ap­plause.

But McMullen says the tim­ing of this panel show could not be bet­ter for rat­ings suc­cess.

“It was great to do a lot of feel­good, happy, lovely television that’s fam­ily-friendly, fun and good-na­tured, be­cause there’s more of a need for that than ever,” he says.

The line-up pro­vides a plat­form for Seven to show­case the quirky per­son­al­i­ties of its net­work stars, while big names such as Rebel Wil­son will no doubt at­tract more in­ter­na­tion­als if the show should go to a sec­ond sea­son. The first episode in­cludes

Win­ners & Losers star Me­lanie Vallejo, sports re­porter and exO­lympic swim star Gi­aan Rooney and sur­pris­ing funny male model Kris Smith, as well as for­mer Dirty

Laun­dry host Lawrence Mooney. The fun for­mula is a sim­ple one, even if the rules seem com­pli­cated. But McMullen says it could just be the right show at the right time for big rat­ings.

“We’re a very cau­tious bunch in telly land and don’t want to jinx th­ese things by say­ing it out loud. But I think it’s the per­fect time for the show,” he says.

“It’s dif­fer­ent from any­thing that’s been on television in a long time. The whole fam­ily can def­i­nitely watch, it doesn’t mat­ter what genre of mu­sic you’re into, or where the songs come from that you love, we cover it all.

“I hope peo­ple get great en­joy­ment out of it. Cer­tainly, the peo­ple on the pan­els came up to me af­ter film­ing and said, ‘Man, we had a crack­ing time, can we come back?’.

“It’s def­i­nitely nerver­ack­ing, but I hope peo­ple en­joy watch­ing it half as much as I did film­ing it.” THE BIG MU­SIC QUIZ SUN­DAY, 7PM, SCT

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