Hello and welcome to the penultimate instalment of my chat with Ian Rogerson, who hosted All Star Squares, on Australian TV back in 1999. I worked on the show as a question and gag writer, and I’ve written about my experiences on it here before, but it was great to learn that Ian remembers it with such fondness too….
IR: The whole show was so much fun. We’d sit there in the Green Room between shows with Tim Smith and Michael Caton… and I just remember lots of jokes.
SH: Yeah, it was very convivial! I remember Tim Smith in particular; going through questions and gags with him and just laughing a lot and him always wanting to make it better, as funny as possible. What a lovely bloke. Those were very happy memories.
IR: Yeah, I think in another timeslot the show might have worked. Who knows?
SH: You never know. Do you have any specific memories of any of the contestants?
IR: Did we give a car away once?
SH: We might have.
IR: I think we did.
SH: I think we did!
IR: It was a while ago, but I seem to remember that it wasn’t a huge car….
IR: I remember the live studio audiences really enjoying it as well. I really can’t remember too many of the contestants and that’s only just because of time, I think.
IR: But the bizarre thing was that after it all finished, Channel Seven repeated the show over the next two summers. But maybe that was just in Sydney.
SH: I don’t know; I don’t recall that happening down here in Melbourne. As we said, it wouldn’t have been a cheap show. The celebrities you mentioned, I think you’re still friendly with a few of them. Is that right?
IR: I’ve known a lot of those people from years previous. There are firm friendships; Tim Smith… and Michael Caton, I saw just last week. We both scream at the television over American politics.
SH: (LAUGHING) Oh good. It’s good to have that in common; that’s lovely. When it was on, did you find you were thrust into the spotlight? Did you find you were being recognized?
IR: Look, I’d already been through it in the eighties. I’m really not after the spotlight; I’m more of a cabinetmaker than a television show host. But I always wanted to host a game show, purely so that if something happened on a plane and somebody yelled out, “IS THERE A GAME SHOW HOST ON BOARD?” I could say, “Yes, I’m a Game Show Host – step aside.” I wanted “Game Show Host” on my passport.
SH: (LAUGHING) That’s good – you’ve achieved that goal!
IR: Look, as you know really well Steve, gigs come up… and you do them!
SH: Sure. Because… why not?
IR: Yeah and also, they might even pay you some money! AND give you some free chocolates.
SH: Yeah, “delightful Duc d’O chocolates” indeed! Now, the show didn’t last as long as we might have liked; what were your memories of its ending, and how did you process that at the time?
IR: It became patently obvious when I was in the office with the second-in-charge at Channel Seven and they were handing me a cheque and saying, “Thanks very much.” I thought, “Oh right. Okay.”
SH: Was there really no warning?
IR: Well you can usually feel the jungle drums in at a network, I think. When the ship’s heading towards the iceberg, you see people start fluffing up the cushions on the lifeboats.
IR: So, I probably found out relatively quickly, but I’d worked with Channel Seven before.
SH: Yes, right; on Have a Go and Late Night With Jono & Dano.
IR: Yeah, I was quite up to date with their ability to quietly take you out the back and put a bullet in your program.
SH: Behind the screens…
IR: Yes. But I did have fantastic suits, which were fabulous. But I didn’t get to keep any of them, which really pissed me off. I think I might have light-fingered one suit, but that was about it. I had just gloriously fun times. I’d go and spend my weekends in Melbourne and we’d all go out for dinner. Just getting together with everybody was really good fun; that was probably the big memory. I certainly don’t feel broken about it or anything like that; it was just really good fun. One thing leads into another, leads into another… as I always say in this business.
Indeed it does, indeed it does. Next week, we’ll find out about a cause that’s very close to Ian’s heart, and what he’s been up to since All Star Squares. But if you’d like to know what he’s been up to in very, VERY recent times, you can always follow him on Twitter. He’s at https://twitter.com/ian_rogerson
See you next week!