Hello, and welcome to my latest HowToWinGameShows.com EXCLUSIVE interview! And today, we’re wandering down Memory lane, all the way back to 1999, with the host of All Star Squares; it’s that stalwart of the Australian entertainment industry; broadcaster, columnist and all-round lovely bloke… Ian Rogerson!
SH: Ian, thank you so much for joining me today for HowToWinGameShows.com!
IR: My pleasure!
SH: For our overseas visitors… you didn’t start out as a game show host; for many years before All Star Squares came calling, you had a long and successful career on commercial radio and TV, as part of the comedy double act ‘Jono & Dano’ (with Jonathan Coleman).
IR: I used to refer to myself as “one third of ‘Jono & Dano’.”
SH: (LAUGHING) Did you really? That’s very modest of you. How did you two meet and start working together? And when did you know that your chemistry was really going to pay off?
IR: I’d been working at Triple J in Sydney for about a year. One Saturday night they brought this guy in and said, “Do you know him?”
And I go, “No.”
“You watch Wonder World (the kids’ TV show Jonathan was on at the time), don’t you?”
“Well look, we’re just trying him out, just operate the panel – don’t worry about it. We just want to see what he’s like.”
And I thought ‘yeah, okay, fair enough’. And then in comes Coleman, who blathers on for about 20 minutes… I just basically had to interrupt him! And that was the beginning of a ten-year relationship.
SH: So, it wasn’t organic, it wasn’t by accident, or because you both moved in the same circles… it was sort of pre-fabricated by the station?
IR: It wasn’t even that! We just ended up doing the rest of that show together. And that’s where that sort of chemistry came across. They said, “Okay – you guys are doing Saturday nights now.” And that was it.
SH: Wow that’s interesting! I had no idea. Then after Triple J (which is a subsidiary of the ABC, our public broadcaster), when did you go to commercial radio?
IR: About mid 80s. ‘84 I think. Most of it’s a blur, to be brutally honest…
IR: I was having a lot of fun. Sorry, I was very busy – very busy.
SH: That too.
IR: In ’84, the Triple M people came and offered us more money than I’d ever seen, so it was like, “Okay, let’s do that!” So, I ended up working there for a few years and got a TV show with Channel Seven. We ended up doing a tonight show (Late Night With Jono & Dano); one of the world’s worst tonight shows, although we did win the ratings on the last day of the show.
SH: Why do you call it that? Surely it couldn’t have been that bad.
IR: We were idiots (LAUGHING). We weren’t serious; we were just idiots. And I think we were such fans of the David Letterman show, we realized the only place we could watch it come in live was off the satellite in at Channel Seven. So I suspect we were partly doing the show so we could watch the Letterman Show during the week, when it came through at about midday!
SH: You were in it for the perks!
IR: (LAUGHING) Yeah, it was fantastic. And then at the end of the 80’s, Johnny went off to England, I went back to Triple J when they set it up as a national network and worked there until about the mid-90s and then I did bits and pieces; a series of interview shows in America, and stuff like that… I then came back and then All Star Squares came my way in 1999.
SH: So how did that come to be?
IR: They were auditioning for it and that’s where I met the producer Tony Skinner; he was a lovely man. I liked Tony. He really knew game shows, and he was a game show guru. So, they were doing auditions and it got down to Larry Emdur and me. Which is also the name of my new sitcom.
SH: (LAUGHING) Larry Emdur & Me! Wow – the original odd couple! I’d pay to see that.
IR: And I ended up getting the gig, so that’s where I got to meet you.
SH: Indeed. When you auditioned for it, had you seen either of the previous Australian versions, hosted by Jimmy Hannan? There was Celebrity Squares (1975 – 1976), and there was Personality Squares in 1981. Were you familiar with the show and the format at all?
IR: Yeah, it really goes back to Hollywood. I think it was a 60’s show originally, wasn’t it? Hollywood Squares, that was it. The format was a no-brainer, it was just a case of how you fill up those squares and who you get. I thought that you had to have some regulars; so the people who are coming back to the show are going to know and feel comfortable with it. So, they were the Michael Catons, the Tottie Goldsmiths and the Tim Smiths… Everybody was “Smith” on the show, for a period of time!
SH: Why didn’t we get Ron Sexsmith? That’s my question!
IR: (LAUGHING) Exactly!
And that’s where we’ll leave it for this week. Next week, Ian and I discuss the physicality of the show’s set, the vagaries of time slot programming, and the one thing that the network warned him was definitely “a deal breaker”….
In the meantime, if you’d like to follow Ian on Twitter, you can! He’s at https://twitter.com/ian_rogerson
Also in the meantime, if you’re curious to learn more about All Star Squares, there’s also my three-part PatentedHowToWinGameShowsBehindTheScenesReminiscences of the show, RIGHT HERE.
See you next week!
P.S. Ron wasn’t available.