TALK­ING A GOOD GAME

The in­side word on Fox League’s Late Show with Matty Johns

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

WHEN they flicked the switch to go on Fox Sports’ new 24-hour league chan­nel, chances are view­ers al­most in­stantly found Matty Johns on their box more of­ten than not.

Not only is the for­mer New­cas­tle and NSW play­er­turned-Triple M Syd­ney break­fast host one of the bright­est ‘faces’ of the Fox League brand, he’s also one of its busiest.

Build­ing on the pop­u­lar­ity of his Mon­day night chat show, which of­fers a good mix of arm­chair crit­i­cism, with a heap of mug punter lar­rikin­ism, his bosses have now dou­ble-downed and let him loose with his own Thurs­day night pro­gram, The Late Show With Matty Johns.

Just don’t ex­pect him to be the next Jimmy Fal­lon or croon­ing with stars, a la Car­pool Karaoke king James Cor­den, Johns warns.

While the 45-year-old is look­ing for­ward “to let­ting our hair down” in the later times­lot – straight af­ter each Thurs­day night NRL game – he’s keep­ing the one-hour show hard and fast.

“Let’s face it, ev­ery­one has ADD [at­ten­tion deficit dis­or­der] these days, so I want the show to move fast,” Johns says. “There’ll be lots of mov­ing parts, lots of dif­fer­ent peo­ple in­volved and lots of laughs.”

It was only a few years ago Johns made the strate­gic ca­reer de­ci­sion to shelve his most fa­mous com­edy char­ac­ter, that biff-lov­ing bloke Reg Rea­gan, to fo­cus on sharp­en­ing his act as a host and pre­sen­ter. Leav­ing be­hind Nine’s

The Footy Show – now his di­rect com­pe­ti­tion – he has de­vel­oped his on-air skills both on TV and each week­day morn­ing on ra­dio.

“I’ve done it for a few years now and got my­self into a rou­tine,” Johns tells TV

Guide. “It doesn’t cause me the anx­i­ety it used to be­cause I feel like I’m pre­pared. I used to feel like there weren’t enough hours in the day. But now, I know all the seg­ments, where they fit, how they work. I fin­ish the break­fast ra­dio. I might come home and have an hour’s sleep, then get the run­down for that night’s [Fox Sports] show, go do the show, get home, have a few hours’ sleep, get up and do the ra­dio again.”

It was ad­vice from for­mer

Enough Rope and ra­dio host An­drew Den­ton which helped set­tle Johns’ nerves and taught him one medium would ul­ti­mately help him with the other. “He said to me, ‘Ra­dio re­ally pol­ishes you and sharp­ens you up be­cause you learn to fill the air’. With TV,” Johns says, “pic­tures sup­port the si­lence, es­pe­cially in sport, so the less you say can be bet­ter. It’s about an econ­omy of words; but in ra­dio, si­lence, well, it’s just dead. Peo­ple think you’ve gone off-air.”

The other se­cret to his suc­cess as a broad­caster has been to sur­round him­self with the best play­ers.

His hi­lar­i­ous team of TV off­siders on the Mon­day night show, in­clud­ing for­mer Eels star Nathan Hind­marsh and ex-Roost­ers man, Bryan Fletcher, will be boosted this year by one-time Blues and Roost­ers rogue, Brett Finch.

Also adding depth to Fox League’s of­fer­ing has been the sign­ing of Nine’s for­mer Ori­gin an­chor Yvonne Samp­son and Han­nah Hol­lis (of NITV’s League Na­tion fame), who will de­liver their anal­y­sis of the game’s hot-but­ton is­sues, along­side Fox Sports stal­warts Jes­sica Yates and Lara Pitt, each Wed­nes­day night on League

Life (7.30pm). Clos­ing footy’s gen­der gap, Johns en­dorses, “takes the game for­ward and makes it grow up”.

THE LATE SHOW WITH MATTY JOHNS

THURS­DAY, 8.30PM, FOX LEAGUE

Dream team: TheLateShowwith­Mat­tyJohns stars Lara Pitt, Nathan Hind­marsh, Gor­don Tal­lis, Matty Johns and Bryan Fletcher.

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