Hello and welcome to the final part of my EXCLUSIVE interview with Pointless host Mark Humphries.
Thank you for sticking with us all the way through this adventure, the first instalment of which went up here, way back on March 3rd. Seems like a lifetime ago now, doesn’t it?
Mark really opened up for this interview, and went in to all sorts of detail, and I’m very grateful to him for being so candid.
But you know what they say;
All good things…
SH: So, after 184 episodes…. how did the show finally come to an end, and how did you process that?
MH: I think I had a pretty good attitude about it; being a student of television, I think I had it in my head that eventually, everything ends. Nothing lasts; the things that have these long lives are the exceptions, not the rule. I reminded myself that this was just a kind of fluke; “You never expected to be hosting this show, so you’re just lucky that you even got this far.” I never, ever thought “Hey, I deserve this”; I never had any expectations that it’d be a long-running thing. I knew that the show was a risk. They did try to make it appeal to a wider audience. They changed it from the British version, but the concept of it still did require a little bit more thinking than Family Feud (the show’s predecessor in the same time slot). Family Feud very much rewards your first thought, whereas this –
SH: Well, this flips that on its head, doesn’t it?
MH: Yeah. You need to dig deeper. And I do remember thinking “Are people going to be able to get their heads around this?” Obviously, I was aware of the ratings not being at the level that the network was hoping for…. That had been hanging over us for a long time, and so when it (the show’s end) finally did happen, I was not shocked. I was able to take that quite well. And I’d also been on a show before that had been cancelled, so I knew what that felt like.
MH: I was also lucky that by that stage I was already doing sketches for 7:30.
SH: Oh, that overlapped, did it?
MH: Yes, they overlapped. So I was fortunate in that sense; it wasn’t as though this ended and I didn’t know what the next job would be. It was a relief that when this ended, the following Wednesday I was back in at the ABC. So I think I took it all pretty well. The hardest part was that on the day that I found out, I was buying –
SH: A diamond-encrusted Rolex?
MH: Close! I was buying a diamond ring for my wife, because it was our tenth wedding anniversary.
SH: Oh, wow!
MH: I’d never been able to afford a ring when we got married, so she’d had to wear my grandmother’s engagement ring. So I thought “I’m going to buy a proper diamond ring for my wife for our tenth anniversary,” and I committed to that and I was going to do that… and then I got the phone call (that the show had been cancelled) and I thought ‘Aaaargh! Can I still afford to buy this ring?’ But then I said to myself “Mark, you’ve committed to do this, you will make it work!”
SH: Ah, you crazy old romantic!
MH: (LAUGHING) Yeah, yeah… But that was that, and then I called Andrew (Rochford, Mark’s co-host) and we commiserated… actually I’m having lunch with Andrew today.
SH: Oh, great!
MH: And I think we’ll probably commiserate again! But I think I took it fairly well… although I do miss it. But I think it helped that I went into it knowing that I was lucky, and that it probably wouldn’t last.
SH: And that’s the perfect way to view it, I think. Was it last May that it finished up?
MH: Yes, it finished last May, but we were told in February. Obviously it’s shot in advance, so it was back in February when they told us “Next week’s records will be the final week of records.”
In the end, I felt really proud of the show that we created. I think it evolved a lot, and I wish the show could have been judged on what it ultimately became. It was frustrating as well that we got cancelled before the second season started airing. Because in between the two seasons, we had a bunch of meetings where the producers said “Okay, we are going to look at every single element of the show and try and figure out how we can make it better. From the types of contestants we have on, to the types of questions that we ask, to anything we can do to make your jobs easier Mark and Andrew… Right across the board it was just “How can we make this the best show possible?” And I was really pleased with the changes that were made as a result of that process. But those episodes of the show didn’t air until after Channel 10 had already made the decision. So by then, they’d stopped advertising the show, and the little boost that I’d hoped we would get from that second season just didn’t come to pass. There’s a part of me that will always wonder what it would have been like if it was a weekly show at 9:00, and if it’d been allowed to run for the full hour, the way the British show does. That’s the other thing; we lost so much stuff on the cutting room floor; so much of the banter and the fun chat with the contestants. Because you just couldn’t fit it in; 22 minutes only allowed time for the gameplay and a tiny bit extra.
SH: Yes, not much room for those extra little fun moments. Do you have any more game show related ambitions, Mark?
MH: You know, I kind of thought I didn’t… but I would say this; if they ever brought back Blankety Blanks…
SH: (LAUGHING) Yes, I’m listening!
MH: (LAUGHING) I’d certainly be interested in being part of that conversation! I really enjoyed hosting Pointless, but perhaps because of the way the show went, my name wouldn’t necessarily be in the running for future things! But I have thought “Well, what if there was a show that I could come up with?”
MH: I wouldn’t even necessarily have to host it… I just do like that kind of world; I like Game Show World! And yes, I guess I’d be very interested in revisiting it in the future in some way. And hey, if any network would like to consider rebooting Pointless…..
SH: Yes – just get in touch with me, and I’ll put you in touch with Mark!
MH: (LAUGHING) Well, I mean it worked last time! So let’s put the wish out there into the world – why not?
SH: You bet! Mark Humphries, thank you so much for talking to me today. It’s really been fascinating and very personal too. Thank you for sharing so much and for sharing so freely – I really appreciate it.
MH: Oh well thank you for indulging me! And thank you for asking, because I love your website – I’m right in the target market for that!
SH: Haha! Thank you!
And there you have it. It was a real joy to speak to Mark, and I wish him all the very best in his future endeavours. To keep up to date with what he’s up to, you can follow him on Twitter.
We’ll see you back here next week…
Until then, please stay safe, stay healthy and stay home.