Talkin’ ‘Bout ‘Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation’… Part II

Hello! This week, I’m  bringing you a few random memories of my time on TAYG, but first, I’d like you to join me on a little stroll to Shameless Namedropping Corner….

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Given that the show ran for 72 episodes, and that each episode required three guest players (one for The Baby Boomer team, one for Generation X and one for Gen Y), that’s 216 celebrity guests who sat behind those three TAYG desks. Some of them have turned out to be Hollywood heavy hitters…

Some of them were successful recording artists…

One of them was a YouTube sensation, whose videos have had over 500 million views…

… And one of them was a cheeky puppet fox.

I recall being quite excited that Basil Brush was going to be a player in the first episode of our second series – he was an international guest, after all. However, I wasn’t quite as excited as our Executive Producer Peter Beck; he’s a long-time fan of Basil, and the photo of Peter with Basil – from that TAYG record – was still on the wall in Peter’s office, last time I looked. Before recording Basil’s episode, the production really gave him the star treatment. Well, not Basil, technically – the star treatment was more for Michael Winsor, his operator. I remember Peter, Mel (a producer on the show), Michael and I being treated to dinner at one of the fanciest restaurants in Melbourne by the production company. A lovely, happy, chatty, enthusiastic, evening; Michael was really excited to be here, all the way from England, Basil came to dinner with us (in his special case, which Michael kept with him at all times), and the four of us even talked about how a Basil Brush show might work in Australia.

So I was disappointed when the episode record rolled around, and all three of our team captains were repeatedly rude to Basil during the show. It made for very uncomfortable viewing, and I really felt for poor Michael (Basil’s operator), who came to the show with so much enthusiasm and goodwill. I was embarrassed about the way our show treated this guest. Why all three of the captains treated him like that, I’ll never know. But am I over-reacting? Have a look, see what you think, and let me know in the comments below:

I mentioned Leo Sayer above, and he played a part in one of my most vivid memories from the show. If you’re familiar with the show’s format, you’d know that

each episode features an ENDGAME. This is a huge and silly physical challenge,  including all teams, in an attempt to settle the show’s ultimate question: ‘WHICH GENERATION IS THE FINEST GENERATION EVER TO HAVE LIVED (for this week)?’ Each week, the challenge is different, and each week, it’s worth a different number of points. As part of the show’s format – and I think this was Shaun’s idea – a special secret envelope is delivered to Shaun on the set. Inside the envelope is the exact nature of the challenge, and the number of points it is worth. Each week, Shaun opens the envelope, and each week, he “discovers” that the endgame challenge is worth the exact amount of points that means any one of the three teams can win from here! And each week, Shaun is very surprised and delighted by this. 

In addition to this, each week Shaun would devise a different, brilliant, funny way in which the Endgame envelope was delivered. These included being delivered by:

  • Justin Bieber’s carpet
  • Robert Pattinson covered in shaving cream
  • A zebra disguised as Scarlett Johansson
  • Herbie the Lovebug
  • Napoleon on a Segway
  • The Dalai Lama wrapped in tinfoil
  • A water buffalo dressed as Maurice Chevalier
  • A cloud of gas
  • Catweazle in a Mr Whippee van
  • Mr Spock being attacked by a woodpecker, and of course…
  • The inventor of Sudoku in a broken bumper car

I also got to deliver the Endgame envelope on a few occasions, in the guise of:

  • A Dalek

  • Robin & Robin (Shaun had asked for Batman & Robin, but there’d been a mix-up, which resulted in co-writer Michael Ward and I, shuffling on, embarrassed, both wearing too-tight ‘Robin the Boy Wonder’ costumes.) 

  • A 1930’s style movie robot (made mostly of cardboard boxes painted grey) and, my personal favourite…
  • The Phantom!

For this, the production didn’t just hire an authentic-looking Phantom costume….

The Phantom wardrobe session. Suck in that gut, Hally!

… they also hired a HORSE – and its handler – to play the role of the Phantom’s trusty mount ‘Hero’. All for a total time on screen of about 20 seconds. In rehearsal, a special mat had to be put down on the shiny, slippery floor, and during the recording, we asked the audience for total silence. We didn’t want them to spook the horse as I rode her in, excitedly waving (as per Shaun’s direction) like a 4-year old boy on his first ever pony ride.

The Phantom enters, astride his mighty steed

‘The Ghost Who Walks’ coolly acknowledges the audience, by beaming goofily and frantically waving at them.

… and the Phantom takes his leave, grinning and waving like an idiot all the while

When we recorded the show, there were some nerves as I waited to make the entrance – if this went wrong, it would go REALLY wrong, and could even be quite dangerous.

But it didn’t go wrong, and my nervousness evaporated when I saw Leo Sayer’s reaction as he took in the full picture of me, the horse, and my stupid, manic, childish waving. His mouth had dropped open, and with a look on his face half way between fear and wonder, three words slipped from his lips. In a tremulous, incredulous half whisper, this chart-topping recording superstar – a man who had been on The Muppet Show, for goodness’ sake – said simply, if somewhat uncertainly…

“Look.

At.

That.”

Before I had even delivered the envelope to Shaun, I felt my work there was done.

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Next week, more behind-the-scenes memories, and some Interesting* Facts** about all manner of subjects!

Until then, then!

 

 

* Well, I say “interesting”; your mileage may vary.

** Also, they may not actually, technically be facts. As such.

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