TV’s unlikeliest hit
One year into hosting Family Feud, Grant Denyer has never felt better
GRANT Denyer is sitting on some serious coin.
As the host of wildly successful game show Family Feud – celebrating its first year back on air this week – Denyer is marvelling at the good fortune which has come his way. Namely, the black market which has emerged on eBay for the program’s spin-off board game.
“I get hit up for it all the time,” he tells TV Guide. “It’s a form of currency. If I get a plumber to come to my house, I can pay with a board game. He’ll ignore a $150 bill, if I just give him a board game.”
Which is only a slight exaggeration, with the play-at-home variety of the quiz selling out four times over in stores and commanding about $100 a pop on some online auction sites.
Even Denyer is surprised at “this whirlwind, this frenzy” which has followed the show’s retro revival on Channel Ten.
“The thing that really chuffs me is the fact people come up to me and go, ‘Thank you so much for making a TV show we can sit down and all watch together’. And that’s kind of really sweet,” Denyer says. “I feel more love from this than anything I’ve ever made, which is quirky because it’s just a game show. I didn’t expect it to make me as proud as I am.”
Denyer concedes he had to get over the fact “it’s just a game show” when taking on the role because he thought “no one ever gives you credit for hosting a game show”.
The skill, the show’s esteemed executive producer Pam Barnes argues, is making it look easy.
Of Denyer, Barnes, whose credits include Hey Hey It’s Saturday and Australia’s Got Talent, says: “He really has a fabulous energy and warmth that people relate to immediately. He gets on set before we start recording every episode and he just puts everyone at ease.”
Denyer agrees the audience has rewarded him for not taking himself so seriously. “It’s really easy to overdo these shows, but a viewer loves it when you embrace your silliness and own it, rather than pretending you may be the greatest television show on the planet,” he says. “It’s got wonderful honesty.”
While other shows may give away more cash, Denyer says: “Our families win $10,000 and party like they’ve won half a million.”
On a personal level, Denyer has found the work/life balance he desperately needed after an exhausting stint on the road as Seven’s Sunrise weather guy.
After seven years of pre-dawn starts, the 37-year-old former motor racing driver was running on empty.
Now, living on a small farm in Bathurst, NSW, with wife Cheryl and daughter Sailor [their second child is due later this year], Denyer is happiest playing farmer Grant.
“I’ve always lived life flat knacker ... just pedal to the metal ... doing way too much. I’ve learned to find a better balance and Ten’s been super good helping me do that.
“I’ve had to really learn how to relax because I’ve always been the person who squeezed more juice out of the orange than is in there.”
He adds: “Because I’m refreshed, stronger, healthier and happier, I’m definitely hosting the best I’ve ever hosted. Laughing through your work day is an awesome privilege.” FAMILY FEUD SUNDAY-FRIDAY, 6PM, TEN
Camera ready: FamilyFeud host Grant Denyer gets prepped for recording.
Behind the scenes: Left to right, producer Pam Barnes; families line up to join the audience; and a contestant wears headphones while a relative answers.