Ross Larkin. Picture: Mike Dugdale
Ross Larkin. Picture: Mike Dugdale

What Aussie TV execs need to learn

SO,ROVE'S new show has been axed after just two episodes. Put your hand up if you saw that coming.

When a fresh-faced McManus splashed onto the scene in the late '90s with his Rove variety show, it was an enormous welcome change from the same tired old hosts being churned out time and again. Think the insufferable Bert Newton or holier than thou Kerry-Anne Kennerley.

True enough, when Rove debuted, he was cutesy, quirky and even borderline funny, holding his own as a host, but the more significant appeal was - finally, as if our collective audience prayers were heard - we were being treated to someone different.

(Clockwise) Corinne Grant, Dave Callan, Rove McManus and from the early days of Rove.
(Clockwise) Corinne Grant, Dave Callan, Rove McManus and from the early days of Rove.

In an industry dominated by the same predictable baby boomer pickings, he was the perfect new face to save viewers from stabbing their own eyes out at yet another Ray Martin yawn fest. Consequently, the show's ratings were huge and he quickly became an Aussie favourite.

Astonishing! Who would have thought television executives taking a risk on someone other than the dreadful and dreary Darryl Somers would actually pay off.

So, in between patting their own backs and kissing their own arses (more than usual), how did the boomers behind the scenes react to Rove's sudden popularity? Did they learn that risk taking often pays off, and vie to embrace the concept? Don't be absurd. They, naturally, saturated the poor public with Rove ad nauseam, until he too quickly became one of the tired old boots we were accustomed to.

What makes this so-called logic all the more of an eye-roll is that Australia has absolutely no shortage of undiscovered talent. One only needs to peruse some of the choice local and community theatre, fringe festivals and independent short films and web series constantly circulating to know this. Interesting and varied talent is everywhere.

 

Richard Wilkins burst on to the Australian small screen as the host of MTV Australia in 1987 — and he’s still there. Picture: Annette Dew
Richard Wilkins burst on to the Australian small screen as the host of MTV Australia in 1987 — and he’s still there. Picture: Annette Dew

 

Instead, however, we've been continually subjected to the likes of Lisa McCune, who somehow managed to make Coles ads even more tedious or Gary Sweet, who was somehow misconstrued as a sex symbol and continues from job to job.

I could go on. And I will. In fact, my next example speaks for himself. A lot. With tickets to boot. Richard 'have you seriously still got that hairstyle' Wilkins. He's everywhere. Even now … after decades. Long, laborious decades.

And no doubt he will continue to be until he and his worn out colleagues are no longer physically capable. Yet, why? If these obsolete immortals were incredible at what they do, we might be forgiving of their monopoly over the industry. Sadly, however, a large majority are not.

And here we are, 20 years after Rove's initial success, trying to flog that dead horse in another indulgent, unfunny and predictable variety show with a slew of every ring-in we've come to expect. You'd think Channel 10 would've learnt to be a little more discerning following criticisms over its choice of pilot week contenders last year.

And yet, all of this is pretty easily addressed. A few more open minds in the decision making seats willing to take more risks on content, new writers, ideas and faces, while easing up on the elite few that dominate the airwaves with frequently less than thrilling results. Or how else can I summarise? Give. Someone. Else. A. Bloody. Go. Well, somebody had to say it.

Rove McManus on Saturday Night Rove.
Rove McManus on Saturday Night Rove.
Ray Martin pictured spruiking the Carols by Candlelight event in 1989 — but it could have been any year over the past 30.
Ray Martin pictured spruiking the Carols by Candlelight event in 1989 — but it could have been any year over the past 30.