Hosting role goes down well
Chrissie Swan says being the host of is a good fit, writes
WHEN Channel 10’s discussionpanel program Can of Worms debuted last year, it seemed to be the passion project of former Australian Idol judge and Celebrity Apprentice winner Ian ‘‘Dicko’’ Dickson, who developed the concept and hosted the show.
However, when some retooling of the show was required, Dicko found he wasn’t suited to the hosting role and stood aside.
A variety of names were circulated as a replacement, from The Project’s Charlie Pickering to Breakfast’s Paul Henry. But when Chrissie Swan was named as host, there was a collective, ‘‘of course’’ from viewers nationwide.
The show seems a perfect fit for the former member of the late, lamented The Circle morning program, with her warmth and intelligence serving as a strong foundation for its wide-ranging areas of discussion and debate. And Swan certainly feels right at home helping steer the conversation. Were you a viewer of
first season, back when Dicko was hosting?
I did watch it – I caught about half the season and what I saw I liked. It was on a bit late for me, with other commitments, but I caught it when I could. When you came on board as host, how did you view your role? As moderator? Facilitator? The match that ignites the tinderbox?
I think you’re right when you say moderator and facilitator. I’m not a controversial person, so I don’t think my role will ever be that of firestarter. The guests we have are so interesting and the questions so interesting that my role is just to make sure we get as much dialogue going as we can, having these clever people talk about fascinating things. I don’t feel like I have one chromosome of controversy in me. You’re hardly a rabble-rouser, but you seem forthright when it comes to saying what’s on your mind.
You know, you read things about yourself – I sometimes see I’m pitched as that kind of person and for me it feels like it couldn’t be further from the truth. But I suppose people have their opinions I don’t even know about forthright. I’m very comfortable in my role on radio and television when it comes to communicating with people, so maybe that comes across. I’m confident. After leaving to focus on breakfast radio and family commitments, what did you have to consider when thinking about a return to television?
I go with my gut feeling a lot, and over the past few months there have been lots of opportunities. Even when I thought something sounded good, if my gut feeling was ‘I might make an idiot of myself’ or ‘I don’t think I’m up for this’ or ‘I’m not ready for it’, I’ve always knocked it back. Can of Worms seemed to me a measured risk. I’d never been in that role on my own before but I thought I’d spoken to a lot of a people during my time on The Circle so I felt match-fit, I felt 80 per cent ready and the doing-it-on-my-own part was really the only risk. I’ll never do something if I think it’s going to embarrass me or people around me. A TV show is such a group effort. It can look like it’s just the person or people on camera but there are dozens of incredibly hard-working and passionate people behind the scenes, so I wouldn’t want to be the face of something and let down the people who are working seven times harder than me. Did your time on you in good stead for the
gig? Obviously there’s a bit more fluff on The Circle but essentially it boils down to the same thing: it’s about communication, it’s about people talking. I was asked when I first started if there was any guest that I wouldn’t be able to stomach and I told them, ‘absolutely not’. There is no one I’ve
hold come across I couldn’t stand, so I told them to go for it. That’s pretty admirable, actually.
I don’t see the point. Everyone has an opinion and the right to express it. What I really like is there are people on the show you may have never heard of before – Can of Worms doesn’t bring out the usual suspects. Often you’ll find guests on various shows tend be the same faces, whereas we’ll bring out people you may not have heard of much. And the way the show is structured means everyone gets their crack at speaking their piece. Has it been a learning experience?
That’s one big reason I took it on. I love this career but I also love learning new things, and Can of Worms has been fantastic in that respect. I hope it continues. I’m not 100 per cent sure when we’ll hear if that’s going to happen. I do know the network is very happy. Taking a leap of faith like this is always scary, but it’s turned out very well.
Mondays, 8.30pm, Ten, Ten SC.
host Chrissie Swan