Tommy Mait­land

The Guardian - G2 - - News -

Age: 72.

Ap­pear­ance: Blue eyes teamed with a com­plex­ion the colour of a freshly var­nished deck.

Who is he? Tommy Mait­land, the leg­endary English TV host.

Leg­endary? I’ve never heard of him. He started out as a ra­dio an­nouncer and ac­tor be­fore mov­ing into gameshows in the 80s. He was the host of Tell You What.

Doesn’t ring a bell, to be hon­est. Af­ter that he went to Aus­tralia, where he fronted the lon­grun­ning Dingo’s Got the Baby.

What has he done lately? Last year, he came out of re­tire­ment to make his Amer­i­can de­but, de­light­ing US au­di­ences with his catch­phrases, “Who’s a cheeky mon­key?” and “We’re just here for fun­sies” as the host of The Gong Show.

I’ve never heard of The Gong Show ei­ther. It’s a tal­ent show in which acts are dis­missed by bang­ing a gi­ant gong. Run­ning from 1976 to 1980, the se­ries was “re­booted” last sum­mer, turn­ing Mait­land into a house­hold name.

This is weird. How did such a leg­end pass me by? Hard to say. Pos­si­bly be­cause he is to­tally made up. You mean you in­vented him? No, Wayne’s World and Austin Pow­ers star Mike My­ers did. He has been play­ing Mait­land – with a Bri­tish ac­cent and heavy pros­thet­ics – since The Gong Show started last June.

Is he funny? No, he plays it pretty straight – ir­re­press­ible, but straight.

How did he man­age the de­cep­tion for so long? My­ers stayed in char­ac­ter, and his name never ap­peared in the cred­its, un­til now – ABC has de­cided to give the game away ahead of a se­cond se­ries. Plus, Mait­land was fur­nished with a long and de­tailed back­story. He even had his own Twit­ter ac­count.

The Loch Ness mon­ster has its own Twit­ter ac­count. Are you say­ing no­body knew? There are two an­swers to that question.

Can I have the truer one? My­ers’ al­ter ego has been, like Don­ald Trump’s stu­pid­ity, an “open se­cret”. Weeks be­fore the show de­buted, Van­ity Fair re­vealed the ruse. As did Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood. And In­side Edi­tion.

That’s not what an “open se­cret” is. That’s what “a mat­ter of pub­lic record” is. It seems as if a lot of peo­ple missed the memo.

Do say: “Who’s a cheeky mon­key? You are!”

Don’t say: “Oh, be­have!”

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