Hello! Last week, Mark and I discussed the extremely brief whirlwind of pre-production leading up to the show’s premiere…
But before he knew it, that part was all over, and he found himself in the thick of recording the episodes for real; episodes that, any day now, would be broadcast on national television, five nights a week…
SH: So would you say you were very much ‘in at the deep end’?
MH: Yeah. And I think that’s what I found a little bit difficult about when the show launched. You know, when it launched it was heavily promoted. There was an advertising blitz; they really went all out on it.
SH: Yeah, they did.
MH: So that when the first episode aired, I think about half a million people watched it. And they were all basically watching a guy on his first day at work in a new job.
SH: Yes! I hadn’t thought of it like that.
MH: And that’s what you’re being judged by, nationally. That was quite difficult; I don’t think I was ready. And all those creases – that I ultimately like to think I ironed out – were very much on display in those early episodes. But you only get one shot at a first impression, and that’s the way it goes.
I guess my one regret about the show is that I wish I’d been able to make the transition faster. Because I’d gone straight from two-minute sketches (which I would write and perform) and with those, it was just me, my co-writer and our editor. And then suddenly…
There’s 15 cameras on me
and there’s a live audience
and the taping of each episode goes for an hour
and you’re doing five of those, back-to-back, in one day
and in between them, you’re changing wardrobe
and trying to bolt down a meal
and trying to get your head around the next contestants you’re about to meet; “These are the talking points, these are the categories that are going to be in the next round”, and I’m desperately trying to think of something funny I can say about this category, trying to come up with jokes. I usually like to script as much as possible, but in that environment it’s virtually impossible…
So there’s all those challenges and I’m also still working out the dynamic with Andrew (Rochford, Mark’s Pointless co-host), still working out our relationship.
And I’m trying to work out dynamics with the various contestants as they come through, trying to spark something with them…
SH: Yes, it certainly sounds like you had challenges coming at you from every side… How was your health, Mark? Were you okay with all of this?
MH: It was not great, not great.
SH: It must have required a lot of concentration and focus… and stamina! You have to have your foot on the accelerator for a lot of the time.
MH: Yeah, exactly. And then there was the additional challenge, once the show was launched, of all of the Family Feud fans being so angry! (Pointless was the replacement for Family Feud, in the same time slot). And then there were all the other people watching it for the first time who hadn’t seen me before, and they’re judging me and they don’t like me… I was smart enough not to go on social media and read through it all… But I should stress that not that everyone was like that
SH: No of course, but it can’t be helpful.
SH: Okay, so to change tack, what was the best part of having all that sudden national exposure? You’re in prime time, you’re on at 6 PM, on a commercial network, five nights a week…
MH: The best part was one event – one night – and I will cherish it forever. My dream, as a big TV buff, had always been to go to the Logies. That’s all I ever wanted. And I know that everyone has a love-hate relationship with the Logies (as do I), but I generally have a real affection for it. So getting to go to that, and being at the Channel 10 table with Sandra Sully and Natarsha Belling where Sandra’s running a sweep on who we think will win the Gold Logie that night… You know, we each put in $20 and fill out a little card…
SH: Oh yeah, that sounds like fun.
MH: Yeah, and I got to meet Shaun (Micallef)! I’d never met Shaun before, and like so many people of my generation, I’d grown up watching Shaun and admiring him. He was lovely, and I got a photo with him… Just hobnobbing and walking the red carpet and doing the photo wall (see the pic at the top of this post!) And then going to the after party and dancing till 3 a.m…. It was an absolute delight. So if nothing else, I achieved my dream there! I’d say that was probably the highlight of the whole adventure.
Ah yes, The Logies; AustralianTelevision’sNightOfNightsWhenTheBrightestClichesComeOutToShine! I have more than a passing acquaintance with them myself, and yes, it is a super fun night.
But I digress. Next time, Mark talks about the other biggest highlight of hosting Pointless, some of the lowlights, and a part of the whole process that really took him by surprise.
Until then, please stay safe, please stay healthy and please stay home.