Hello and welcome to the latest instalment of my interview with Pointless host Mark Humphries, and this week, we get into the nitty-gritty of how he came to be in that position….
SH: In early 2018, the rumours started that an Australian version of the English game show Pointless might be in the works. Can you tell us about your first learning of it, and what happened next?
MH: Sure. Well, back in 2016, I used to watch the UK version of Pointless when it was shown on the ABC and I loved it; I just thought it was the most clever concept for a quiz show. And I found myself one day tweeting ”If they ever make an Australian version of Pointless, I would love to host it.” Around the same time, I went on an ABC radio show called The TV Club where you could recommend a show that you enjoy, and of course I recommended Pointless. And I said on air “if they ever make an Australian version of Pointless, I would love to host it”. Then… fast forward to 2018, and I read on TV Tonight that Channel 10 and Endemol Shine are going to make an Australian version of Pointless. And then I thought – well, I don’t really know what I was thinking – but I remembered my earlier tweet and so I retweeted myself, saying “Hey, the offer still stands @Channel10 @endemolshineAU.”
It was tongue-in-cheek; I knew full well that these accounts are moderated by people, and it’s not like the Executive Producer of the show is looking at the Channel 10 Twitter account. I didn’t think it was going to go anywhere…. but by the same token, I just thought I’d put it out there and see if it would fly with the people who were following me. And there were quite a lot of responses that were really positive; “Yeah, that’s a great idea!”and so on. And then maybe two weeks later I was in at work at SBS, and I got a message saying “Someone from Gogglebox wants to talk to you.” And I thought ‘Gogglebox? That’s a bit weird; why would someone from Gogglebox want to talk to me?’ And then I thought ‘Hang on – who makes Gogglebox?’ So I looked it up, and it was Endemol Shine (the production company who would soon be making Pointless)! I rang the number and it was David McDonald (the director of Gogglebox and Pointless) who ‘d called me. He said “I said I was from Gogglebox because I didn’t want to raise any flags with your employer… but I’ve got this tweet here saying that you’d be interested in hosting an Australian version of Pointless. Were you being serious there or satirical?” And I said “Oh no, I was being very serious”, and then we chatted for about 10 minutes about the show and I consciously referred to a number of things about the show, and elements in it, to let him know what a big fan I was…
SH: That you knew it inside and out…?
MH: Yes. And then he said “Would you be interested in coming in for an audition?”
And I said “Yes, but my one condition is that I must have a laptop on the desk that serves no purpose, and that is not switched on. Or perhaps even plugged in.”
And he said “Yes! Exactly!”… which may seem like a small thing, but I reckon that a lot of people who would have been approached for that show wouldn’t have seen it before and I think that knowing details like that helped to show how keen I was. The other condition I had was that I wanted the prize money to be really, really low; almost offensively low. And I think that kind of stuff helped them to think ‘Okay, this guy knows what we’re dealing with here’.
SH: You’re in tune with the spirit of the thing.
MH: Yeah, and I think that also helped when we came to do the initial audition, which was in a hotel in a sort of conference room. There was a very makeshift set with butcher’s paper and a wheel that had numbers on it. And because I knew the show quite well, I was able to be quite relaxed for the process – I wasn’t stopping and saying “oh what happens here?” And furthermore, because I knew I had no chance of getting the gig – because I was nobody; I was just making these little 2-minute satirical sketches over on SBS’s secondary digital channel – I was able to be really relaxed.
WILL Mark nail the audition?
WILL he get the big gig?
And WILL he be awarded the role of the show’s host, or its co-host?
Be sure to tune in next week, Dear Reader, to discover the answers to all these questions, even though you already know them. Duh.
In other news, Mark’s appearance in the GRAND FINAL of Celebrity Mastermind went to air on Saturday, and he performed….. well, I don’t want to spoil the result for you, just in case you haven’t seen it, and want to catch up on it right now, at SBS On Demand…
Suffice it to say, all of us here at HowToWinGameShows.com (i.e: me) offer our (that is, my) most heartfelt congratulations or commiserations to you, Mark; whichever are more appropriate.
And we’ll see you back here next Tuesday!