Hey Hey It's Saturday
|Hey Hey It's Saturday|
2010 Hey Hey It's Saturday logo.
|Directed by||Peter Ots|
|Presented by||Daryl Somers|
(Current major cast members. For minor cast members, see cast section of article.)
(Red Faces segment)
|Voices of||John Blackman|
|Country of origin||Australia|
|No. of seasons||29 (1971–1977, 1979–1999, 2010)|
|No. of episodes||500+|
|Executive producer(s)||Daryl Somers
|Location(s)||GTV Richmond, Victoria (1971–1999, 2009–2010)|
|Camera setup||Multiple-camera setup|
|Running time||3 hrs (1971–83)
2 hrs (1984–99, 2009–10)
|Production company(s)||Somers Carroll Productions|
|Original channel||Nine Network|
|Picture format||PAL (1971–99)
576i (SDTV) (2009–2010)
|Audio format||Mono (1971–mid-1980s)
Stereo (mid-1980s–1999, 2009–2010)
|Original run||9 October 1971
– 20 November 1999 (first run)|
30 September and 7 October 2009 (Reunion special)
14 April 2010 – 27 November 2010 (second run)
Hey Hey It's Saturday was a long-running variety television program on Australian television. It initially ran for 27 years (there was a recess in 1978), debuting on the Nine Network on 9 October 1971 and broadcasting its last episode on 20 November 1999. Its host throughout its entire run was Daryl Somers, who would later become executive producer of the program. The original producer, Gavin Disney, left the program in the 1980s and Somers then jointly formed his own production company, Somers Carroll Productions, with on-screen partner Ernie Carroll, the performer of Somers' puppet sidekick Ossie Ostrich.
On 25 July 2009, the Nine Network announced the show would return for two reunion specials in late 2009 and hinted if they rated strongly, the show could return full-time. The first reunion show aired on 30 September 2009 and the second on 7 October and both won the ratings on their respective nights.
On 7 December 2009, it was announced that the show was planned to return in 2010 with a speculated run of 20 episodes. During the 2010 premiere on Wednesday 14 April, it was indicated that the 20-episode run would be split into two groups, with a break between them, and the second group was broadcast on Saturday nights from 16 October 2010 with the season finale on 27 November 2010. The show was cancelled again at this point, and since then there has been no announcement of it ever coming back on air.
- 1 History
- 2 Cast
- 3 Segments
- 4 Cultural significance
- 5 Criticism
- 6 Programming history
- 7 Awards
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Premiering on 9 October 1971, Hey Hey It's Saturday was a Saturday morning children's program in which Somers and Carroll provided "top and tail" segments between cartoon episodes. Due to the relative freedom afforded by its low-priority timeslot, the team was able to develop the comedic aspects of the show and the cartoon segments were eventually phased-out in favour of the live performances.
The constant ad-libbing (often laced with double entendre) of the presenters, including voice-over man John Blackman, soon attracted a cult following among younger and older viewers alike. The show's style was variously influenced by vaudeville, the American Tonight Show format, The Marx Brothers, The Goon Show and Monty Python. Somers was also strongly influenced by comedy duo Graham Kennedy and Bert Newton, and it is significant that Carroll wrote for In Melbourne Tonight (IMT) for many years.
An embarrassing moment for Daryl during this time was when awoke one minute prior to the show going to air. He raced into the living room, turned on the television, only to hear John Blackman announcing: "And, now, here's Daryl..." Still in his underwear, Daryl wrapped himself up in a blanket and rushed to the studio where he was greeted by Ernie Carroll.
Through the early 1970s, as its ratings grew and its meagre budget was increased, Hey Hey evolved into a freewheeling live light entertainment / comedy variety program. Regular segments included "What Cheeses Me Off" (which aired viewer complaints on virtually any subject), "Media Watch" (to which viewers contributed humorous newspaper misprints, almost invariably smutty), "Red Faces" (a Gong Show-style talent competition) and "Chook Lotto", a parody of variety show barrel competitions, in which the numbers in a farcical lotto game were chosen using numbered frozen chickens spun in a large wire cage. The team also performed live revue-style send-ups of current TV shows such as The Sullivans, or chaotic parodies of soap operas, police shows and other popular TV genres. Like Kennedy's, the humour was of the wink-wink, nudge-nudge variety—viewers became accustomed to Blackman's voice-over snigger—and the satire was broad and skit-level, rather than sharp and disturbing. The show aimed to please its lower-middle-class demographic and succeeded well.
Like IMT, the earliest years of Hey Hey were marked by a similar "anything can happen" attitude, with sketches and improvisations stretched to the point of absurdity or terminated without warning. Sponsors were also laid open to some gentle ridicule, and live "reads" of sponsor advertising often became part of the comedy—a device that Graham Kennedy had made famous. Hey Hey also broke the "Fourth Wall", frequently turning the cameras around, taking viewers behind the scenes into every area of the studio, out to the studio pool and even beyond the building. Many of the crew (e.g. floor manager Phillip Lambert) effectively became the de facto supporting cast, either as themselves or as occasional extras in regular segments. It should also be noted that during this formative period there was no studio audience, although this later became an integral part of the show. Carroll also occasionally stepped out from behind Ozzie to perform in sketches or as a character, although he usually disguised his voice and/or appearance.
The rapid-fire comedic interplay between Somers, Carroll, Blackman and audio operator Murray Tregonning was central to the show's success. Blackman kept up a near-constant stream of jokes and remarks, and he also provided the voice of the show's many invented characters; some were merely voiced, while others were seen in various forms, including "Mrs McGillicuddy" (a stock photo of a toothless old woman), "Angel" (a Barbie doll dressed as an angel and Chroma keyed into the scene), "Norman Neumann" (pronounced Noiman), a talking Neumann boom microphone, "The Man From Jupiter" and the character that became an icon of the show, cheeky "schoolboy" Dickie Knee (a ball with a school cap and wig, stuck on a stick) who would pop up in front of Daryl (operated by a stage hand) and make rude remarks.
Tregonning was renowned for his remarkable ability to select and play appropriate sound effects at a second's notice and his humorous audio punctuations became another trademark of the series. This was long before the introduction of digital sound recording and digital samplers, and all Tregonning's sound effects were played from a huge collection of tape cartridges.
The program went into recess in 1978 when Daryl and Ossie took the bold step of leaving the Nine Network for the rival 0-10 Network to present a prime time game show, simply titled The Daryl And Ossie Show, with hostess Monique Daams. Only forty episodes were aired between September and November 1978. Daryl and Ossie then went back to Nine and Hey Hey It's Saturday was returned to air in 1979. The show continued its evolution, beginning with recruitment of popular Queensland TV presenter Jacki MacDonald as a co-host of the show on its return to Nine in 1979.
Move to prime time
In 1984, the Nine Network moved the show from its morning timeslot to a primetime slot on Saturday nights, and it was briefly renamed Hey Hey It's Saturday Night before reverting to its original name. During this time, Hey Hey also became one of the most important TV venues for both local and international music, film and TV stars. Many visiting overseas stars including Sylvester Stallone, Tom Jones, Stevie Ray Vaughan and professional wrestler André the Giant were impressed by the program's zany style (and its wide appeal) and made return appearances on subsequent visits. During its peak years, backed by the full resources of Nine and assisted by the rapid improvement in satellite communication, Hey Hey regularly travelled to locations all over Australia and even overseas for live broadcasts.
In 1984, in a world first, reformed Aussie rock legends Skyhooks appeared on the same night live from their concert at Olympic Park in front of 26,000 people with Daryl and Ossie appearing with them on a giant screen above the stage. The band traded quips with the Hey Hey crew in between performing some of their biggest hits. It is said that Red Symons landed his Hey Hey gig as a result of the success of this appearance.
The show enjoyed strong ratings and maintained a dedicated following throughout the Eighties, and became a "must watch" program for a generation of viewers, with its popularity augmented by the stellar guest lineup and regular musical performances. Other personalities gradually came on board, including ex-Skyhooks guitarist Red Symons, who not only played in the show's house band, but was also infamous for his withering sarcasm and as a judge on the "talent" segment Red Faces. Another noted Australian rock musician who became a long serving cast member was saxophonist Wilbur Wilde, who had previously played in Australian bands Ol' 55 and Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons. The regular cast was further expanded by the addition of former Countdown host Ian "Molly" Meldrum, comedian and ex-The Comedy Company star Russell Gilbert, actor and comedian Maurie Fields, and ex-The Curiosity Show presenter, Dr Deane Hutton.
Hey Hey retained its loyal following well into the 1990s but Ernie Carroll decided to retire in 1994, taking Ossie Ostrich with him. Other characters including "Plucka Duck" were brought in to partially fill the void left by Carroll's departure. In the late 1980s a cartoonist, Andrew Fyfe, was added to the team, offering visual gags similar to Blackman and Tregonning's audio contributions. In 1992 Fyfe started his own children's game show on Nine called GuessWhat?. On this show he drew picture puzzles in front of two teams of children. A number of Somers-Carroll produced "Red Faces" and "Best of Hey Hey" specials screened and were rescreened with high ratings for their timeslots. The show also had a lane named after it near its studios.
In 1998, Russell Gilbert got his own Somers-Carroll sketch comedy show on Nine, The Russell Gilbert Show, which lasted a year. Also in that year Hey Hey went full circle and became a Saturday morning kids TV show again, in the form of a separate show called Plucka's Place. This was hosted by Plucka Duck and Livinia Nixon. Livinia soon went on to co-host the main show. A wide range of Plucka merchandise was released to complement the new program.
End of series – 1999
Nine Network executives decided toward the end of 1999 to cancel Hey Hey It's Saturday. Somers claimed that he wanted to take the program into a new direction after the departure of Caroll, but the budget to redevelop the show was deemed excessive. The final episode ran for 240 minutes, an hour longer than was scheduled.
1999 also saw the beginning of another variety show on Nine, Rove, featuring Rove McManus. Newspapers reported Kerry Packer's relative closeness to McManus and distance from Somers during the year. Rove was itself axed at the year's end, but was reborn in 2000 on Network Ten as Rove Live.
Much of the early years were not retained by GTV-9 and so are not available for repeats or DVD release. However, home recordings of some material have been included in retrospectives.
Nine re-aired the Hey Hey By Request specials in 2005 and June 2006. Also, on Nine's quiz show Temptation, Hey Hey's Wilbur Wilde and John Blackman appeared in May 2006 as part of Temptation's Logies Superchallenge, and both represented the show. Dickie Knee also made a brief appearance.
In October 2006, the Seven Network began airing old Red Faces segments as a part of a show called The Best and Worst of Red Faces, which had originally screened on the Nine Network in the 1990s.
In June 2007, Daryl Somers received funding from the Seven Network to produce a pilot for a new Saturday Night format.
During the 2008 Logies ceremony, Daryl Somers presented an award for the "Most Outstanding Children's Program". Prior to announcing the winner of the award, Somers did a skit with Dickie Knee and Plucka Duck.
Since the show's initial demise in 1999, there has been considerable interest in the reformation of "Hey Hey It's Saturday" in some capacity. A Facebook group, created by Corrine Lawrence of Broken Hill, was set up to garner support for a return. In mid-July, the Herald Sun ran a story on the campaign, which was subsequently picked up by other media outlets, including the Nine Network itself. Membership of the group skyrocketed as a result, going from 10,000 members to 32,000 members by 22 July 2009. By July 2010 membership exceeded 488,000. ABC Radio Broken Hill interviewed Lawrence and Somers on 22 July 2009 in regard to the growing interest.
It was reported on 24 July 2009 that Daryl Somers and the Nine Network had agreed to a deal for two specials to air in late 2009 after lengthy negotiations and, if the shows rate well, the two will negotiate the return of the show to its original format.
The specials were a mix of old and new content. Graeme Trippett joined Daryl Somers as co-executive producer. The first aired on Wednesday, 30 September 2009,reunion and was a ratings success. It attracted a peak audience of 2.64 million viewers and an average audience of 2.169 million people. It beat the debut of Celebrity MasterChef Australia which had a peak audience of 1.92 million viewers and an average audience of 1.36 million. It gave Nine a 40% share of the rating for that day, toping all other television stations by a massive 20%. It ranked Number 1 as the highest rating show for that week. The second aired on 7 October and attracted 300, 000 viewers more. The second reunion special once again topped the ratings for that week with an average of 2.308 million viewers, giving Nine its highest share of Australian viewing for 2009—43.3%.
During the second reunion show, the "Red Faces" segment featured a tribute act to the Jackson 5 called "the Jackson Jive", consisting of a Michael Jackson impersonator and five backup dancers in blackface. Harry Connick, Jr., guest-judge for the segment, was offended and left the stage. Somers later apologised to Connick on-camera. Connick said that if you'd done this (offensive) bit where he came from, the show would be called 'Hey Hey, We've been Cancelled'. This incident was mentioned in several publications in the United States and the UK, including New York Magazine and guardian.co.uk.
2010 – cancellation
Following the success of the 2009 reunion specials, the show returned in 2010 after a deal was signed for at least 20 new episodes. The show was set to air on Wednesday nights but retain the title Hey Hey It's Saturday with Daryl Somers returning as host. Ian "Molly" Meldrum had recently signed a deal with Channel 7, excluding him from the line-up. Red Symons was part of the lineup, after his decision to leave Australia's Got Talent on Channel 7. The show returned on 14 April 2010 with over 1.5 million viewers.
On the 7 July 2010 episode, in the wake of fast declining ratings, Somers announced on air that the season would conclude on 21 July 2010 and that Hey Hey It's Saturday would be returning for a seven episode run in October 2010 and be moved back to its original Saturday night timeslot. The final episode of the first series had an average of 1.52 million viewers across the five major cities. The show was not renewed for another season.
In early 2012, Daryl Sommers announced that Somers Carroll Productions had approached other commercial networks in hope for Hey Hey's return but were unsuccessful despite their best efforts. It has been reported[who?] that Somers Carroll Productions are now looking into stage shows instead. To date, there has been no news of another season, making it appear to be cancelled once again.
|Daryl Somers||Host||1971–99, 2009–10|
|Peter McKenna||Co-host||1971 (First 8 weeks)|
|Ernie Carroll||Ossie Ostrich (Co-host)||1971–94, 2009–10|
|Jacki MacDonald||Co-host||1979–89, 2009, 2010|
|Denise Drysdale||Co-host||1989–90, 2009|
|Jo Beth Taylor||Co-host||1995–97, 99, 2009, 2010|
|Livinia Nixon||Co-host||1997–99, 2009–10|
|Red Symons||Red Faces host & guitarist||1980–99, 2009–10|
|John Blackman||Voice-overs||1971–99, 2009–10|
|Wilbur Wilde||Saxophonist||1984–99, 2009–10|
|Russell Gilbert||Comedian & audience warm up||1990–99, 2009–10|
|Trevor Marmalade||Live reporter||1991–99, 2009–10|
|Molly Meldrum||Molly's Melodrama host||1987–99, 2009|
|Andrew Fyfe||Cartoonist||1982–99, 2009–10|
|Plucka Duck||Pluck-a-duck host||1990–99, 2009–10|
|Suze Raymond||Pluck-a-duck co-host & regular segment participant||2009–10|
|Penne Dennison||Entertainment reporter||1998–99, 2009–10|
|Daryl McKenzie||Musical Director||1992–99, 2009|
Note: Molly was roto-captured in 2010 from a previous Melodrama.
The show became a showcase for comedy and music which was reflected in the show's segments:
"Red Faces" is a segment in which three (sometimes four) amateur performers or groups would present their routine (which was usually singing, dancing, comedy or something utterly bizarre) before a panel of judges. The segment and its name were a parody of the serious talent quest program New Faces coupled with a gong as in The Gong Show. The panel consisted of Hey Hey's resident band's guitar player Red Symons along with two of the show's guests from that week.
Normally contestants would be gonged by Red Symons well before they finished their performance. Each contestant was then given a score out of 10 by each of the judges. For most acts, Red, always the last to give his score, would usually give his trademark score of 2 along with a pithy and acidic comment. Other times he would give high scores when the performance really was particularly good (or poor!)—on several occasions he declared a performance the winning one, even if the others hadn't been done yet. The winning contestant received a $500 cash prize, second received $250 and third received $100. In the final years, the prizes were doubled and were sponsored by McDonald's restaurant chain. In the 2010 revival of the show, first would receive $2000, second received $1000 and third received $500, initially sponsored by Hungry Jack's but later changed to MyFun.
Some, but not many, contestants found fame after appearing on "Red Faces". One group of friends performed their own rendition of I Am The Music Man, and were later hired to perform in a beer commercial as a result. Jason Stephens, a comedian who appeared on The Late Show, had his start on Red Faces impersonating a penguin. The Melbourne-based musical comedy trio Tripod also performed a satirical medley of Oasis songs on the show in their very early years. Cate Blanchett also appeared on Red Faces in the late 80s, at the age of 17. "Red Faces" faced its oldest contestant, 96-year-old Dorothy Hayter, in the 80s and Red Faces had its youngest contestant, Sarah Jane Bailey (9 months old) in 1995.
A longstanding game show segment, "Chook Lotto" (or Chooklotto) involved a large barrel of numbered frozen chickens, or "chooks", and was a parody of Tattslotto, one of the National Lottery Draws of Australia. This segment ran from 1984, was rested in 1985, then returned in 1986 and went till the end of 1988. Daryl and Jackie McDonald would draw out 4 chickens numbered from 10 to 19. The home viewer would send in their entry and have to circle one of those numbers as a "Super 69" number. Then another cast member would enter the numbers into a computer (Originally an Atari 800XL, later an Olivetti Model) and whoever had those numbers would be the winner. Then Daryl would return to the desk and use the Super 69 number on ten paper eggs which had the same numbers as the chickens drawn out. Each of them held a prize. The main prize was a car from Ken Morgan Toyota or if the prize card had stars on it they would win every prize inside the other eggs. This segment was eventually replaced by Plucka Duck (Pluck-a-duck), however returned in the 2010 revival of the show, with viewers invited to go to the shows website and select 4 numbers as well as a supplementary number. Due to gambling laws in Australia, when "Hey Hey" was revived in 2009, the game was called "Fake Chook Lotto", and contestants played for no prize whatsoever, however, real prizes were offered in 2010.
The chickens were provided by Inghams Suppliers, and all 210 finalists would receive a voucher for a free chicken.
"Plucka Duck", (at first Pluck-a-duck) was the replacement for Chook Lotto, and was responsible for creating the show's character of the same name. Contestants would spin a numbered wheel with each number corresponding to a prize. After the spin, the contestant was allowed to either elect to keep their prize, or have another go by "plucking a duck".
"Plucka Duck, Plucka Duck,
He's not a chicken or a cow,
Plucka Duck, that's him right now!"
Many different versions of the theme song were used over time, based on a number of different tunes and adjusted lyrics, such as "Excuse me while I kiss this duck", spoofing a Jimi Hendrix number. (In the reunion shows and 2010 seasons 1 & 2, Livinia Nixon joined in as well)
If the contestant elected to pluck a duck, the character Plucka Duck—a man in a duck costume—appeared and contestants plucked a feather from his tail. Each feather had a number concealed on it which corresponded to a prize, and that would be the prize won.
This was later changed. In the subsequent version of the contest a large mechanical contraption resemblant of a merry-go-round powered by a bicycle—usually ridden by Plucka himself—would be wheeled on. The contestant would have to pick a soft-toy duck (later created in Plucka's image) from the spinning wheel, which would have a number hidden under its vest. This number, as with the wheel, corresponded with a prize. (For more details on Plucka Duck, see Plucka Duck (character).)
On one occasion a contestant spun the wheel and landed the peg between the wheel's highest prize (a car) and that of a lesser prize. The show was interrupted by a phone call from the head of the Nine Network, Kerry Packer, who directed Somers to "Give her the car."
Plucka Duck would often have a female presenter performing alongside him. One of his presenters in the early 90's was Melissa Hannan who was a popular TV personality at the time, daughter of Jimmy Hannan. Plucka Duck's current female presenter is Suze Raymond, who is also host of Channel Nine's music video program Eclipse Music TV.
The former talent co-ordinator/interviewer of Australian Television's Countdown, Ian "Molly" Meldrum hosted a segment titled "Molly's Melodrama". This segment was similar to Countdown's Humdrum segment where Molly would review local and international music as well as interview the famous and infamous faces of the musical scene. However, in true Hey Hey fashion, Molly's segment was often taken over by other cast members (Dickie Knee in particular) who often performed often cruel and painful pranks on Meldrum.
Prior to Molly Meldrum, the music review segment featured Gavin Wood, former Countdown voice-over man, with his segments frequently punctuated with practical jokes targeting him.
A quiz where contestants, which usually were either studio audience members or Hey Hey guests, would answer questions based on television commercials.
Similar to Ad Nauseam, this was a music quiz. The segment's title was taken from the Michael Jackson song of the same name, which was played by the house band at the beginning of each installment.
Lost for Words
A game show style segment where a number of celebrities would be asked to name a word that started with the last letter of the previous word.
An audience member would be brought onto the stage and presented with an unusual word. Various Hey Hey crew members (usually Dickie, Red or Russell) would each give the member a possible meaning of the word, one of which was the word's actual meaning. If that person correctly guessed whose meaning was the right one, that person would win a prize.
A parody of Mastermind, where contestants were strapped to a chair and had to answer a maximum of 6 questions. If that contestant got three questions wrong, he or she got "slimed".
The Media Watch segment displayed humorous errors from TV and newspapers, generally sent in by the viewers. As the segment became more popular, it was split into "Media Watch Press" and "Media Watch TV".
After the end of HHIS, the concept used in "Media Watch" and "Phunny Fotos" was replicated in the What The? segment on Rove Live. A similar segment appears on the U.S. TV program Late Show with David Letterman under the name Small Town News.
The Great Aussie Joke
The hosts of this segment were Shane Bourne and Maurie Fields. This segment was also featured on the first reunion show, which was fifteen years after Maurie's death, with Maurie being rotocaptured into the set, and doing the joke with son Marty.
The Nixon Tapes
This segment, which appeared during Livinia Nixon's time on the show, featured footage from movies or TV shows sent in by viewers, which contained a mistake or blooper of some sort (such as a production error). Audience members had to guess what the mistake was.
In this segment, three contestants would have the name of a celebrity placed on top of their heads where they could not see them. Using a series of questions which could only be answered with either "yes" or "no", the contestants had to try to guess who their celebrity was. The name, like many other parts of the show, was joked upon for its double-entendre. As one of the most popular games on Hey Hey, "Celebrity Head" was adapted into a board game and retains casual interest.
Spoofs of other programs were a regular feature in the early years. This began with caustic voice-overs of old TV shows, (comparable to the much later American program Mystery Science Theater 3000 and similar to other Australian comedy efforts including the "Europa Films" segments of The Aunty Jack Show and the 1980s live comedy team Double Take). Later, this expanded into ongoing comedy sketches such as Division Saturday (a parody of Division 4), The Sillivans (The Sullivans) and The Shove Boat (The Love Boat).
The rural radio station 2QN Radio Deniliquin was satirised until official complaints were received, leading to a change over to 2KW Upper Kumbukta West, a fictional country town that was also home to the "Mrs Mac" character. The fictitious country of 'Biddleonia' was created as a new home for Irish jokes etc., so as not to offend any actual minorities.
Ian Buckland appeared and also performed in sketches including a satire called "The World's Worst Magician". These segments spawned merchandise in the form of magic kits and products.
In each of the two reunion shows, there was a "DisasterChef" segment—a spoof of MasterChef Australia.
Other Australian sketch comedy programs have satirised the show at one point or another, including The Comedy Company when it was parodied as Ho Hum It's Saturday and Mad magazine which did a parody with the same title.
Use of terminology from the show spawned controversy during a Test cricket match between Australia and South Africa in Melbourne in December 2005. Australian bowler Shane Warne referred to South African batsman Makhaya Ntini, who was batting with an injured knee, as "John Blackman". Warne was claiming that Ntini was controlling his "dicky knee" just like Blackman "controlled" Dickie Knee on the show. But Ntini, a Bantu, interpreted the remark as a racist jibe, and a minor controversy occurred. Eventually Australian captain Ricky Ponting explained the situation to South African captain Graeme Smith. Blackman himself had in fact visited the Australian team's dressing rooms not long before the incident occurred.
Although, even in its 21st century incarnation, the show continued to rate highly, not all sectors of the Australian community were fans. The show has been criticised as being backward and culturally insensitive. Its outlook and many of its jokes are considered to be racist and sexist. Such views were highlighted by the international controversy surrounding the aforementioned "Jackson Jive" sketch on Red Faces, which had the show derided as "old fashioned, out of touch, stale, [and] misguided". Since the end of the show's original run in the late 1990s, Australian television had become less tolerant of politically incorrect material.
The Jackson Jive
The Jackson Jive act appeared on the "Red Faces" segment during the second reunion special on 7 October 2009. The sketch—in which six participants, five wearing blackface, performed a Jackson Five song—sparked outrage and condemnation locally and abroad. American musician Harry Connick Jr., who performed on the show, was guest judge at the time and strongly expressed his disapprobation of the skit when asked to give a score, and also later on in the show. Subsequently, Connick was accused of being hypocritical, some claiming that at a time earlier in his career he wore blackface: in December 1996 he played the role of an Evangelical preacher in a spoof with Orlando Jones which featured on the show MADtv, however the accusations are complicated by the fact that he wore no blackface, baring his natural skin color.
The performers, Suresh de Silva, Joseph Macdessi, Harry Koumoukelis, Mark Sader and David Jefferson dressed as the Jackson Five in matching blackface outfits and wearing large afro wigs. They also made their teeth extremely white. Anand Deva performed as an adult Michael Jackson, painting his face white. They sang the Jackson Five's hit "Can You Feel It" in a jive style.
The performers were all from Sydney and work there as doctors. Times Online has described Deva as a "prominent Sydney-based plastic surgeon". The others included a radiologist, an anaesthetist, a psychiatrist, a cardiologist and a urologist. The group had performed a similar sketch on Hey Hey It's Saturday in 1989 when they were all medical students.
Reactions on the program
Guest judge Harry Connick Jr., an American musician who originated from New Orleans and whose band contains several African-American members, gave the performers a "0" score. He appeared visibly uncomfortable throughout the skit. He said, "If they turned up like that in the United States, it'd be like Hey Hey There's No More Show." He also later said that he would not have agreed to be on the show had he known beforehand about the sketch.
Connick's Australian co-judge, seated to his right, awarded the performers a "7" score. This judge, Jacki MacDonald, had originally intended to not participate in the show, but decided to after seeing the success of the first reunion episode. Her showing here was her first appearance on television with host Daryl Somers in 21 years. In grading the "Jackson Jive", she said that "I thought you were very cute." Regular judge Red Symons, well known for giving low scores, awarded them a score of "1".
Daryl Somers said that nobody had intended to deliberately offend the viewers, the guests, or the audience. He described the sketch as a "bit retro". Somers apologised to Connick on air after a brief station break and said that he had forgotten that blackface has a different cultural background in the United States compared to Australia. Somers appeared to be genuinely surprised by Connick's reaction.
The controversial sketch happened at a point in which many Australians had expressed concern about an underground wave of racism in Australian society. Overall, Australians responded far more positively than residents of other English-speaking nations. Internet surveys done through News Limited-related agencies and Twitter stated that many Australians considered the sketch to be a funny and inoffensive tribute to Michael Jackson's memory. Some Australian political commentators remarked that only political correctness had been upset. In the United States, however, many internet based commentators reacted very negatively. Many internet commentators also panned the sketch in the United Kingdom.
Julia Gillard, then-Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, defended the skit. She said that "It was just a bit of fun... a tribute to Michael Jackson and I think from an Australian audience point of view, they see the lightness of it.". The Acting Premier of Victoria, Rob Hulls, labelled the skit as offensive. He also stated that Australia is not a racist country. The Australian feminist Germaine Greer condemned the sketch as a "piece of shit". She also appeared on Australian television in the days after the sketch. When asked about the negative reaction in Britain, she stated, "they're a mean lot".
Australian television personality Sam Newman, who has used blackface in his acts, said that the sketch would "arouse moralists". He argued that it is not truly offensive. Kamahl, an Australian entertainer who was mentioned in the sketch and is of Malaysian ethnic heritage, referred to it as "a desperate attempt at notoriety and publicity".
Reaction by the performers
Suresh de Silva has publicly responded to the criticisms. He said that "The worst consequence of what we did is that the skit has raised the question of are Australians racist. We're genuinely horrified that our mistake could cause people to think that . . . Australians care more about ability than race." He also identified himself as having Sri Lankan ancestry and the other performers as an Indian-Australian, a Greek-Australian, an Irish-Italian-Australian and a Lebanese-Australian.
Silva said that his group would not have performed the sketch in the United States. He also said that "I suspect things are probably a bit different in America in terms of what that [black face] means."
Reaction by Jackson Five members
|Hey Hey It's Saturday||October 1971 – September 1973||Saturday||8:30am–11:30am|
|Hey Hey It's Saturday||October 1973 – December 1977||Saturday||8:00am–11:00am|
|Hey Hey It's Saturday||March 1979 – December 1983||Saturday||8:00am–11:00am|
|Hey Hey It's Saturday Night||February 1984 – May 1985||Saturday||9:30pm–12:00am|
|Hey Hey It's Saturday||June 1985 – November 1999||Saturday||6:30pm–8:30pm|
|Hey Hey It's Saturday: Final||20 November 1999||Saturday||6:30pm–10:30pm|
|Hey Hey It's Saturday: The Reunion||30 September – 7 October 2009||Wednesday||7:30pm–10:30pm (30 September)
7.30pm–11:00pm (7 October)
|Hey Hey It's Saturday||14 April 2010 – 28 July 2010||Wednesday||7:30pm–9:30pm|
|Hey Hey It's Saturday||16 October 2010 – 27 November 2010||Saturday||7:30pm–9:30pm|
Hey Hey It's Saturday won 19 Logies during its 29 year run. Awards the show has won include:
|Award||Awarded to||Year(s) won|
|Most Popular Personality (Gold Logie)||Daryl Somers||1983, 1986, 1989|
|Most Popular Light Entertainment Personality||Daryl Somers||1993, 1995, 1996, 1997|
|Most Popular Light Entertainment / Comedy Personality||Daryl Somers||1990|
|Most Popular Light Entertainment Program||The show||1987, 1988, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000|
|Most Popular Comedy Program||The show||1985, 1999|
The show and cast have been nominated for various Logies over its run. Awards nominated include:
|Most Popular Personality (Gold Logie)||Daryl Somers||1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998|
|Most Popular Light Entertainment Personality||Daryl Somers||1994|
|Most Popular Light Entertainment Program||The show||1986, 1996, 2010 (Reunion), 2011|
|Most Popular Light Entertainment / Comedy Program||The show||1991, 1992|
|Most Popular Light Entertainment / Comedy Personality||Daryl Somers||1990, 1991|
|Most Popular Comedy Program||The show||1997, 1998|
|Most Popular Program||The show||1998|
|Most Popular Comedy Personality||Russell Gilbert||1995, 1996|
|Most Popular Comedy Personality||Daryl Somers||1996, 1997|
|Most Popular Comedy Personality||Plucka Duck||1997|
- List of Australian television series
- Television in Australia
- List of longest-running Australian television series
- TelevisionAU Classic TV Guides
- "Hey Hey It's Saturday Back on Nine". NineMSN. 25 July 2009. p. 1. Retrieved 25 July 2009.
- "Hey Hey It's Saturday returns April 14". What's On The Tube. 26 March 2010. Retrieved 26 March 2010.
- Daryl Somers, quoted in Hey Hey It's Saturday Reunion, first broadcast 30 September 2009
- TV Week magazine, 19 October 1996. "Hey Hey it's 25" by Darren Devlyn, pages 76-77
- Hey Hey It's Saturday - The Book. United Media Productions, Richmond, Victoria, 1983
- Hey Hey It's Saturday Facebook group
- ABC Radio Broken Hill interview featuring Corrine Lawrence and Daryl Somers 
- Article from adelaidenow.com.au, posted 24 July 2009 at 8:50pm
- 1 October 2009 Hey Hey wins ratings showdown Theage.com.au
- 1 October 2009 Hey Hey Its Saturday wins ratings battle with MasterChef News.com.au
- 8 October 2009 Hey Hey sees red over black face Jackson 5 act News.com.au
- Guardian.co.uk Harry Connick Jr weirdly unimpressed by Australia's blackface Jackson 5
- Nymag.com Harry Connick Jr. No Fan of Australian Blackface Michael Jackson Tribute
- News.com.au (7 December 2009). "Hey Hey It's Saturday to get at least 20 more episodes". News.com.au. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
- Hey Hey 2010 return The Melbourne Age
- Hey Hey It's Saturday ratings and 2010 season review CricketMX.com
- Quinn, Karl (15 April 2010). "Hey Hey it's a photo finish". The Age (Melbourne: Fairfax Media). Retrieved 22 July 2010.
- "Top marks for Blanchett". The Age (Melbourne). 1 March 2005. p. 1. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
- Brown, Ruth (8 October 2009). "The world sees red over Hey Hey's blackface". Crikey. Private Media. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- Enker, Debi (8 April 2010). "Hey Hey, it's divisive". The Age (Melbourne: Fairfax Media). Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- Black, Sophie (8 October 2009). "Hey Hey misguided patriotism's back". The Stump. Private Media. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- Hunter, Thomas (8 October 2009). "Blackface routine causes storm". The Age (Melbourne).
- Mascarenhas, Alan (21 October 2009). "We're not racist, we're Aussies". The Global Post. Retrieved 21 October 2009.
- Caroline Overington (9 October 2009). "Hey Hey It's Saturday blackface skit makes some red faces". The Australian. Archived from the original on 2009-10-11. Retrieved 18 October 2009.
- Brown, Lane (7 October 2009). "Harry Connick Jr. No Fan of Australian Blackface Michael Jackson Tribute". New York. Retrieved 18 October 2009.
- Evelyne Yamine; Gareth Trickey; Chris Scott (8 October 2009). "Hey Hey sees red over black face Jackson 5 act". The Daily Telegraph (Australia). Retrieved 18 October 2009.
- Tedmanson, Sophie (9 October 2009). "Australian TV show Hey Hey It's Saturday in racism row over 'blackface' skit". London: Times Online. Retrieved 21 October 2009.
- "Jackson Brothers Respond To Australia's 'Jackson Jive' Blackface Controversy". Access Hollywood. Retrieved 18 October 2009.
- Marina Hyde (7 October 2009). "Harry Connick Jr weirdly unimpressed by Australia's blackface Jackson 5". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 18 October 2009.
- Siobhan Duck; Xanthe Kleinig (9 October 2009). "Julia Gillard defends Hey Hey blackface skit". The Courier Mail. Retrieved 18 October 2009.
- "Hey Hey It's Saturday". The Age (Melbourne). Retrieved 15 June 2013.