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