Spicks and Specks (TV series)

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Spicks and Specks
Spicks and Specks Logo.PNG
Presented byAdam Hills
StarringAlan Brough
Myf Warhurst
Country of originAustralia
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons7
No. of episodes277
Running time27 mins.
(some special episodes ran for 58 mins.)
Original networkABC1
Picture format576i (SDTV)
720p (HDTV)
Original release31 January 2005 (2005-01-31) –
23 November 2011 (2011-11-23)
External links
Official website

Spicks and Specks is an Australian music-themed comedic television quiz show. It aired on ABC1 at 8:30 on Wednesday nights, with the show repeated on Thursdays on ABC2 at 8pm. The previous year's season was repeated every Friday at 2:30 pm on ABC1. Repeats of the show screen nightly at 7:30 and 8:00 weeknights on ABC Comedy. It was filmed at ABC Melbourne's studios in Gordon Street, Elsternwick. The program has won three Logie Awards and numerous nominations. In August 2019, it was announced that the series will return with the original hosts for a four-episode reboot in November 2019 and continuing in 2020.[1]


The show takes its name from the 1966 hit single by the Bee Gees. It was hosted by stand-up comedian Adam Hills who posed questions to two teams each headed by a permanent team captain, actor/comedian/author Alan Brough and radio announcer Myf Warhurst. They each have two guest panellists, generally one from the world of music and one from comedy. They vary from week to week, but regular guests included Hamish Blake, Tim Minchin, Frank Woodley, Colin Lane, Ross Noble, James Morrison, Renée Geyer, Ella Hooper, Meshel Laurie, Denise Scott, Antoinette Halloran and Dave O'Neil. With the exception of Dave O'Neil, Blake appeared more often than any other guest panellist,[2] and his comparative lack of musical knowledge was a running gag.

The show's general style, employing a mix of music and comedy, is similar to the British show Never Mind the Buzzcocks and fellow Australian TV show RocKwiz, but the question formats and program style (Satirical vs. Family vs. Pub Quiz) are different.

The show returned for a seventh season on 4 May 2011. On 25 May 2011, it was announced the seventh season would be the final season and the show would end on 23 November 2011.[3]

2014 relaunch[edit]

ABC Television announced on 28 November 2012, during their 2013 program launch that Spicks and Specks would be returning in the new year but without Hills, Warhurst or Brough.[4][5] However the re-launch of the series was delayed by the broadcaster until 2014, with the first episode airing on 5 February. The new host was comedian Josh Earl with Adam Richard and Ella Hooper as team captains.[6][7][8]

The revival was axed after 20 episodes due to low ratings, with the final six recorded episodes airing over the summer non-ratings period.


The show sticks to a simple quiz-show format, with host Hills asking the teams varying music-themed questions. Some rounds are played on an "open-to-all" basis, i.e. both teams can answer the questions, but in most rounds each team gets their own questions to answer – although the other team may answer the question if the first team doesn't know it. Scores are kept, but the prize for the winners is simply personal satisfaction. Many segments are named after, or otherwise reference, well known song titles. Regular segments include:

  • Know Your Product, where each team chooses one of four given topics – three questions around this topic are then asked which either team can answer. The questions are usually ordered by points allocated and the number of answers needed. (e.g. first question is worth one point, but only one answer is needed, the second question is worth two points and requires two answers, and the final question is worth three points and has three answers). This game is played first in every episode. In special episodes the topic is the show's theme which has 5 questions of which the 4th & 5th questions have 4 & 5 answers respectively. Named after the song by The Saints.
  • Substitute, where one panellist from each team sings three well-known tunes, substituting words from a text provided by Hills. This is usually a technical manual or some kind of text humorous given the context (texts used have included Datsun 180B Service Manual, 2004 Australian Government Tax Pack and A Guide to Yabbie Farming). The other panellists of that team then guess the songs. This game is loosely based on One Song To The Tune Of Another from the BBC Radio 4 panel game I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue and Adam Hills' own minor hit with "Working Class Anthem", in which he sang the lyrics of the Australian National Anthem to the tune of Jimmy Barnes' "Working Class Man". Named after the song by The Who.
  • Cover Versions in which one contestant is chosen to draw pictures (in silence), representing firstly album covers and then song titles in later episodes, as their panel attempts to guess which album/song it is. Contestants are not allowed to use words or numbers. Music used during this round is Axel F.
  • Samplemania/Videomania, where five or six songs/music video clips are edited into one short 30-second clip. Players must identify the different songs/videos in the clip after they have all been played, and are not allowed to take notes.
  • Turning Japanese in which the lyrics of well-known song are translated into Japanese using an online web translator. The lyrics are then translated back into English using the same translator. Contestants must guess the title of the song the mismatched lyrics are from. Named after the song by The Vapors
  • Please Please Tell Me Now Hills presents part of a music video clip, and the teams must answer questions about the video. Named after a line in Is There Something I Should Know? by Duran Duran
  • Musician or Serial Killer, in which each team is shown a photograph of a person and is asked to identify whether they are a musician or serial killer. Early episodes tasked individual panelists with identification, resulting in six rounds of this game.
  • Sir Mix'n'Matchalot, where each team is given three famous people and three facts about each of these people. They have to match the fact with the correct person. A play on rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot.
  • Bottom 100 in which Hills provides each team with a choice of two awful songs and asks them to determine which was rated worst by a given group or list. A play on the Triple J Hottest 100.
  • You Can Buy Me Love in which Adam reads out three celebrity themed items that have been found on eBay (e.g. A tour jacket, keychain with artist/band name). Some of these items are the usual merchandise, while others are down-right weird. The teams are then asked to place each item in order from cheapest to the most expensive. Named after the song Can't Buy Me Love by The Beatles.
  • Common People in which the teams identify the commonality between three musicians/musical personalities or songs/albums. Named after the song by Pulp.
  • Malvern Stars on 45 in which a single contestant rides a bicycle which powers a record player. The speed each record plays at is determined by the speed at which the contestant pedals. The contestant must continue to ride until their panel correctly guesses as many songs as possible in the time limit. Named after the bicycle manufacturer Malvern Star and the band Stars on 45.
  • Mondegreens, in which teams are given a short piece of text that vaguely sounds like real lyrics or a set of lyrics. They must then identify the real lyrics.
  • Looking for Clues, where teams have to guess the name of a band from a cryptic clue given by Hills. Named after the song by Robert Palmer.
  • Look What They've Done... where song clips have been changed and the players must identify the tracks. Most commonly, a guest artist or group is used to play the tracks in a different style from the original, however the songs have also been played backwards, which later became its own game (Step Back In Time), through headphones played to maximum volume, through ringtones, over the top of each other, on a malfunctioning radio, etc. Named after the song What Have They Done to My Song Ma by Melanie Safka.
  • Something's Missing, where the teams are shown album covers with an item or word blanked out, and they must identify the missing item. Named after the song Something's Missing (In My Life) by Paul Jabara and Donna Summer.
  • One out of Three Ain't Bad, where teams are given a relatively obscure musical story and are presented with three possible endings. Teams must select the true ending to the story. Named after the song Two Out of Three Ain't Bad by Meat Loaf.
  • Word Up, in which teams are given five random words from the lyrics of a song, and they must then identify the song. Named after the song by Cameo.
  • You're The Voices, where a member of each team must stand next to the opposite team and sing a song from a book (by only singing la la la). The first team to get their member's song correct wins a point. Named after the song You're the Voice by John Farnham.
  • All Shook Up, in which each team is shown a series of anagrams of musicians' names (e.g. "Bomb Early" – "Bob Marley"), and they have to unscramble the anagram. If nobody guesses the anagram immediately, Hills will give a clue. Named after the song by Elvis Presley.
  • Two Little Words, where one member of each team is blind-folded by wearing the Spicks Specs and the others are given the name of a musician or band. The two other team members must get their teammate to guess correctly which musician they are given using only one one-word clue each. Named after the song Three Little Words by The Rhythm Boys.
  • Counting the Beat, where one member of each team plays songs on a keyboard while the others try to guess the song. Keyboardists are given a list of numbers corresponding to the order in which they should play the notes, but are given no indication of the rhythm in which they should be played. Introduced in 2008. Named after the song by The Swingers.
  • I'll Jumble For Ya, where one team member is given thirty seconds to correctly match nine song titles divided in half and mixed up on a magnetic board. Named after the song I'll Tumble 4 Ya by Culture Club.
  • Step Back in Time, where songs are played backwards and must be identified by the teams. Named after the song by Kylie Minogue.
  • What's The Story?, where the team presented three stories of an opposing team member, with each story either true, half true and untrue, their job is work out which one is true, half true and untrue. Named after the album (What's the Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis.

The final round of each program, The Final Countdown, is devoted to a generic musical quiz. This is a beat the buzzer round, and is the only round in which points are deducted for incorrect responses. Named after the song by Europe.

Many of these rounds have proven more popular than others. Substitute was used consistently throughout the early history of the show appearing in almost every episode (although later in the programs run was sometimes excluded in favour of Cover Versions occasionally), whereas some were only used every now and then and others used much less. Some other segments which proved to be popular early in the show's history but have been used less or even abandoned later : Musician or Serial Killer and Bottom 100 were both commonly used early in 2005, but are rarely later. Some games were also introduced later in the series, and occasionally a game will be temporarily changed in some way (e.g. Musician Or Serial Killer was changed once to ARIA winner or Audience Member on the ARIA special episode).

Despite points being awarded for each round, there are no prizes for the winners, except on rare occasions where Hills decides to award some convenient prop for comedic effect – a "Fools' Gold" sandwich very similar (they used strawberry jam as opposed to grape jam) to that eaten by Elvis, for example.

Episode list[edit]

Series 1 (2005)[edit]

Series 2 (2006)[edit]

Series 3 (2007)[edit]

Series 4 (2008)[edit]

Series 5 (2009)[edit]

Series 6 (2010)[edit]

Series 7 (2011)[edit]


A Very Specky Christmas[edit]

Since 2005, an annual hour-long Christmas episode, entitled "A Very Specky Christmas" or variations thereof, has been screened on the Sunday night before Christmas. All questions are either about Christmas songs, or music from the previous year. While these episodes remain true to the standard format with three members on each team, adaptions are made to allow more guest stars to appear. Additional or notably different games have included:

  • Mistletoss, a physical challenge in which the teams are required to throw Christmas presents into a goal in a given time limit. In 2005, the teams threw CDs into the chimney of a model house; in 2006, wrapped gifts were thrown into celebrities' Christmas stockings of different sizes; in 2007, wrapped gifts were thrown through the windows of a "rehab clinic" with a guard out the front, Frank Woodley.
  • Sir Mix'n'Matchalot is adapted so that three additional celebrities appear and are arbitrarily given Christmas presents by the show. The panel then asks questions and attempts to allocate the presents.
  • Substitute is adapted so that trained choirs sing the tunes of Christmas songs with the words from famous quotes and works from the past year, such as controversial pieces of legislation, political speeches, or pop culture.

Best Of[edit]

As the last episode of each year, Spicks and Specks reflects back on all the highlights, lowlights and memorable guests throughout the year.

100th episode[edit]

On 30 May 2007, Spicks and Specks celebrated its 100th episode. Instead of the show being divided into rounds, teams were asked 100 questions – one from each of the previous 99 episodes, and one new question, "What is the last question on our 100th episode?" which was correctly answered: "What is the last question on our 100th episode." by Antoinette Halloran. Alan Brough's team was victorious although it did come down to the very last question.

Behind the scenes[edit]

This was the first episode of Spicks and Specks where the game is not played at all. Instead, this behind the scenes special hosted by regular contestant Hamish Blake took a tour through the studios and dressing rooms of the ABC studios in Elsternwick and conducting interviews with show personnel.

Production studio[edit]

The show was filmed at ABC Studios in Elsternwick, Victoria, which are rented by ABV-2

With ABC Studios in Ripponlea getting ready to shut down, new home is now at ABC Melbourne studios in Southbank, Victoria. With the move from Ripponlea also comes a move from ABC as the broadcast provider. It is recorded in front of a live audience of 500 people.

200th episode[edit]

On 9 September 2009, Spicks and Specks celebrated its 200th episode. The show had a number of members from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra behind the hosts, who performed the show's many musical questions including the theme song "Spicks and Specks" by the Bee Gees. The episode also included returning guests Ella Hooper, Hamish Blake, Paul Grabowsky and Meshel Laurie. The questions covered 200 years of music from 1809 to 2009.

Final episode of original series[edit]

A one-hour special, called "The Finale", was the final episode of the original series of Spicks and Specks and went to air on 23 November 2011. There was a change to the list of guests: various guests rotated during different rounds of the show. All of the credited guest appearances on the show were Ella Hooper, Geoffrey Rush, Scott Edgar, Dave O'Neil, Rhonda Burchmore, Adam Richard, Darren Hayes, Brian Cadd, Brian Mannix, Felicity Ward, Amanda Keller, Jimeoin, Tommy Dean, Shane Bourne, Dan Sultan, Richard Gill, Antoinette Halloran, Denise Scott, Peter Helliar, Barry Morgan, Megan Washington, Damian Callinan, Hamish Blake and Andy Lee (who were in New York at the time of filming for their Hamish and Andy's Gap Year).

Other specials[edit]

Special episodes have been compiled for various seasonal or arbitrary themes, including:

  • Halloween (dubbed Spicks and Spooks)
  • ARIA Hall of Fame inductees
  • Children's music
  • Music from films (dubbed Spicks and Flicks)
  • Mother's Day
  • Australia vs New Zealand
  • 50s
  • 60s
  • 70s
  • 80s
  • Britannia Special
  • Australiana Special
  • Americana Special
  • Europa Special
  • Comedy Special
  • AusMusic Special
  • 1990s Special
  • 2000s Special

In each case, questions are written, and some games are changed slightly or new games invented, to suit the theme.

2018 one-off reunion special[edit]

On 27 August 2018, it was announced that the show would return for a one-off hour-long special as part of the ABC's "Ausmusic" month. Confirmed as panellists were award-winning rapper Adam Briggs, singer/songwriter Ricki-Lee Coulter and comedians Frank Woodley and Denise Scott, plus a line-up of famous guests to lend their musical talents and knowledge.[9]

The one-hour special aired on 4 November, with a repeat airing on ABC Comedy on 10 November. Guests included Adalita, Vika and Linda Bull, Troy Cassar-Daley, Kate Ceberano, Murray Cook, Paul Dempsey, Antoinette Halloran, Guido Hatzis, Kram, Angie Hart, Kate Miller-Heidke, Lindsay McDougall, Luke McGregor, Russell Morris, Montaigne, Pseudo Echo, Josh Pyke, Ruel, Eskimo Joe's Kav Temperley, Tripod, Cal Wilson, Ross Wilson. The show was dedicated to long time regular guest Richard Gill, who had died a week before the special went to air.[10] It ranked #1 nationally with 1.36 million viewers.[11]

2019 special and reboot[edit]

In August 2019, it was announced that the show with the original lineup would return for a one-off special in November 2019, followed by a short three-episode reboot airing in 2020. The episodes will feature original host Adam Hills and team captains Alan Brough and Myf Warhurst, with each episode focusing on a specific generation of music.[12]

Theme and titles[edit]

The show takes both its name and theme music from the Bee Gees' 1966 song, "Spicks and Specks". The theme music is performed and produced by The Dissociatives, a duo consisting of Silverchair singer Daniel Johns and dance musician Paul Mac, and replaces all the lyrics bar the title refrain with scat singing. In addition, Mac once appeared on the show as a panellist.

Plagiarism controversy[edit]

In 2007 during the Kid's Music Special, the question "What children's song is contained in the song Down Under?" was asked. This question resulted in Larrikin Music taking legal action against Men at Work songwriters Colin Hay and Ron Strykert. The lawsuit was over the main flute riff that accompanies the line from children's nursery rhyme Kookaburra which Larrikin Music alleged was reproduced in the Men at Work song Down Under.[13] The lawsuit ruled in favour of Larrikin Music.

DVD releases[edit]

  • In 2007, the first Spicks and Specks product was launched, the Spicks and Specks Interactive Quiz DVD.
  • In 2008, the Spicks and Specks Boardgame was released.
  • A Very Specky Christmas was released on 4 December 2008;[14] it contains the 2007 and 2006 Christmas Specials.
  • In 2009, the DVD Up to our Eras was released. It contained the 50s special, the 60s special, the 70s special and the 80s special.
  • Spicks and Specks: The Remixes was released on 5 August 2010 containing 4 episodes that were uncut and uncensored.
  • Spicks & Specks: World Tour was released on 4 November 2010, containing the Australiana, Britannia, Americana and Europa specials, and is said to have unseen footage.[15]
  • The Spicks and Specks Boxset was released on 1 April 2015, the 4-DVD set contains: The Remixes, World Tour, The Finale and the Pick of Spicks.[16]

In 2011 Spicks and Specks Quiz, an app for iPhones, was released. Users are given two play options, Quick Play or Quiz Challenge, with various games taken from the show. There are a number of top-up Quiz Packs to extend the game. On its initial release, the name of the app was automatically censored by Apple to 'S****s and Specks' because of the racist use of the word 'spick' in the US to describe a person of Hispanic heritage.[17]


Year Awards Award Title Result
2012 Logie Awards Logie Most Outstanding Light Entertainment Program Won
2012 Logie Awards Logie Most Popular Light Entertainment Program Nominated
2012 Logie Awards Silver Logie Most Popular Presenter Adam Hills Won
2011 Logie Awards Logie Most Outstanding Light Entertainment Program Won
2011 Logie Awards Silver Logie Most Popular Presenter Adam Hills Nominated
2010 Logie Awards Logie Most Popular Light Entertainment Program Nominated
2010 Logie Awards Silver Logie Most Popular Presenter Adam Hills Nominated
2009 Logie Awards Logie Most Popular Light Entertainment Program Nominated
2009 Logie Awards Silver Logie Most Popular Presenter Adam Hills Nominated
2008 Logie Awards Logie Most Popular Light Entertainment Program Nominated
2008 Logie Awards Silver Logie Most Popular Presenter Adam Hills Nominated
2007 Logie Awards Logie Most Outstanding Comedy Program Nominated
2007 AACTA Awards Best Light Entertainment Television Series Nominated
2006 Logie Awards Graham Kennedy Award for Most Outstanding New Talent Adam Hills Nominated
2006 AACTA Awards Best Light Entertainment Television Series Nominated
2006 Logie Awards Logie Most Popular Light Entertainment/Comedy Program Nominated
2005 AACTA Awards Best Light Entertainment Series Nominated


  1. ^ https://www.abc.net.au/doublej/music-reads/music-news/spicks-and-specks-returning-2019-2020-myf-warhurst-adam-hills-a/11427414
  2. ^ "Spicks and Specks (2005) – Full cast and crew". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
  3. ^ "The red velvet curtain closes on Spicks and Specks". ABC TV Blog. 25 May 2011. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
  4. ^ "ABC TV in 2013… Amazing!". abc.net.au.
  5. ^ "ABC's Spicks and Specks returns minus Adam Hills and Myf Warhurst". NewsComAu.
  6. ^ "Spicks and Specks". ABC TV. ABC. 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  7. ^ "Spicks and Specks is back" by Scott Ellis, The Age, 11 November 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2013
  8. ^ "New Spicks and Specks team tipped" by David Knox, TV Tonight, 10 November 2013. Retrieved 10 November 2013
  9. ^ "It's true! Spicks and Specks is making a special return to TV" by Belinda Jepsen, Mammamia, 27 August 2018
  10. ^ "You Need To Watch The Huge Spicks And Specks Reunion Special" by Tom Williams, musicfeeds.com.au, 5 November 2018
  11. ^ "TV Ratings November 4: Spicks and Specks Reunion special #1" by James Manning, Mediaweek, 5 November 2018
  12. ^ https://www.abc.net.au/doublej/music-reads/music-news/spicks-and-specks-returning-2019-2020-myf-warhurst-adam-hills-a/11427414
  13. ^ "Down Under and Kookaburra in copyright battle". NewsComAu.
  14. ^ "Spicks and Specks – A Very Specky Christmas". ABC Shop. 24 October 2011. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
  15. ^ "Spicks and Specks – World Tour". ABC Shop. 24 October 2011. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
  16. ^ https://www.jbhifi.com.au/movies-tv-shows/movies-tv-shows-on-sale/tv-comedy/spicks-specks-collection/688785/
  17. ^ "Apple censors 'racist' Spicks and Specks app". Ninemsn. Retrieved 26 January 2012.

External links[edit]