O’keefe fo­cuses on 2000 deals

Pop­u­lar game show host hopes for mile­stone 11th sea­son, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRIDAY EXTRA -

LIKE a foot­baller ap­proach­ing a 300-game mile­stone, Deal Or No Deal host An­drew O’Keefe has his eye on a ca­reer high­light.

O’Keefe, who has just re­turned to the Chan­nel 7 stu­dios in Mel­bourne to tape the 10th se­ries of his game show, will by year’s end have fronted more than 1900 episodes.

If the show is recom­mis­sioned for an 11th sea­son, O’Keefe will clock up 2000 shows by the mid­dle of 2013, which would make him one of Aus­tralian tele­vi­sion’s long­est con­sec­u­tive-run­ning game show hosts.

‘‘It would be a ter­rific mile­stone,’’ O’Keefe says. ‘‘I know if it is recom­mis­sioned next year the 2000th episode will come up about April or May.

‘‘There aren’t too many shows, game shows or oth­er­wise, in Aus­tralian TV his­tory that have had 2000 episodes.’’

O’Keefe’s un­in­ter­rupted stint on Deal or No Deal ranks him with some well-known Aus­tralian TV game show hosts.

Tony Bar­ber spent more than a decade fronting the nightly game show Sale of the Cen­tury.

Bar­ber’s suc­ces­sor Glenn Ridge served for a sim­i­lar time ask­ing ques­tions on the Chan­nel 9 show, while the late John Burgess spent 12 years as host of Wheel of For­tune.

Deal or No Deal started in 2003 as an hour-long show on Sun­day nights but was con­densed into a week­day, 30-minute for­mat the next year.

O’Keefe had doubts the show could be suc­cess­fully trans­formed into an en­ter­tain­ing half-hour for­mat but is glad to have been proved wrong. ‘‘I was scep­ti­cal that they would be able to re­duce a big com­plex un­wieldy for­mat to half an hour,’’ he says.

O’Keefe, who tapes five episodes of Deal Or No Deal a day, jokes that by the end of the week his mind starts to fry.

‘‘It’s nice to be able to con­flate your work life like that, but some­times by the end of 15 episodes in three days, you’re hav­ing a lit­tle trou­ble re­mem­ber­ing your own name let alone car­ing whether they have $5000 in their pocket or not.’’

Hav­ing fronted so many episodes of Deal Or No Deal, it’s only nat­u­ral that O’Keefe has bumped into the odd con­tes­tant or two.

‘‘I’ve met a cou­ple of peo­ple I have known on the podium, hold­ing cases, and I’ve been look­ing at them think­ing ‘how the hell do I recog­nise that face?’,’’ O’Keefe says.

Week­days, 5.30pm, Seven, Prime7.

An­drew O’Keefe (cen­tre)

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