Picking Up the Pieces

Well well well:

It was announced last year, then languished in the ABC’s “too hard” basket for most of this year but now it appears Spicks and Specks is finally back.

The hit music quiz show is set to return early next year hosted by comic Josh Earl with Melbourne radio host Adam Richard and former Killing Heidi singer Ella Hooper.

The series return was to have been announced at the ABC’s 2014 upfronts event later this month but with the pilot due to be recorded this week, news of the much-loved series return has leaked.

You say leaked, we say “isn’t this news like, six months late at least”, lets call it even and move on. Presumably the ABC have been conducting a lot of top-secret rehearsals in a barn somewhere out bush, because this is the kind of line-up that doesn’t get put together by chance. None of them are nobodies, but it’s the kind of mildly risky set-up – well, “risky” in an ABC panel show context where the host could have just as easily been Peter Helliar – that suggests they’ve actually spent the extra time since the relaunch was first announced trying to make sure they got it right.

That’s not to say this will work of course, but we’re going to be slightly more optimistic about this than we were 24 hours ago. Only slightly mind you; if they really are recording the “pilot” later this week (and haven’t, as we suspect, been recording numerous pilot-like efforts with various possible cast members) then there must be an awful lot of people at the ABC hoping it doesn’t turn out to be a big steaming turd.

But hey! We never really liked the original Spicks and Specks much either. Just so long as it rates well enough to make the actually funny shows that follow it look good – and also rates well enough to kill off the ABCs numerous other crap stabs at panel comedy programming – all’s right in our world. Until the Adam Hills guest appearances start.

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  • urinal cake says:

    I’d be more worried about Ja’mie (and others) turning up.

    Ella Hooper is a good choice though the other two I’m not so sure about. It was a decent anchor show but I’m not entirely sure the ABC can do anything ‘new’ right.

  • Billy C says:

    Josh Earl is an interesting choice. I’ve seen him a few times and thought he was okay. He’s certainly charming and comes across as a really nice guy. Even when the odd joke falls flat you want him to succeed. It is refreshing to get someone who does not have a lot of tv experience. I would have preferred a female comic to Hopper but she’s not a bad choice. Having a musician means that a lot of female comics will probably get spots which is a good thing. Richard will want to tone the camp down. After Outland I’m amazed they trusted him with the franchise. There are six or seven people I can think of who I’d prefer.
    I think they’ve left it too long personally.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    It’s hard to know time-wise – you could argue that by leaving it this long they’ve given themselves enough time to make a clean break with the “much-loved” earlier version. Or more likely, they’ve lost all the goodwill they would have had if they’d managed the change over better (maybe by having Hills leave first, then letting the team captains bail later on) or jumped straight in with a new version.

    Richard is a pretty canny performer, and chances are he’ll know he’s there to be enthusiastic about music – his selection does suggest the show might be focused on slightly different kinds of music tho’. Which in itself could be a problem, as the old show had team captains who were fairly evenly matched musical-interests-wise. If Hooper likes one kind of music and Richard another, where’s the balance in the quiz?

  • simbo says:

    Buzzcocks is, of course, the model and has managed to run for almost 20 years by rotating in and out hosts and panel captains (and for the last four series has had guest hosts continuously). So… yep, it probably would have been better to look at possibly just replacing one rather than all three simultaneously – although whether all really wanted out at the same time or not, who can say (I suspect Hills definitely wanted overseas, Brough would probably have been able to persuade to stay, Myf might have been more of a wildcard).

    As for the other half, I don’t know that Myf and Alan were necesssarily THAT evenly matched in knowledge, except possibly in age – Brough clearly knew more about musical theatre than Myf, and Myf (theoretically) would know more about alternative music than Alan (alhough her long-mocked “forgot about Nirvana) … and in any case, the questions on Spicks and Specks were never particularly deep about any category of music (it’s Rockquiz you go to for the deep music nerdery). However, Hooper is definitely from a different age demographic (she’s a good decade younger than Adam Richards, or, indeed, Myf or Alan were when they were on the panel) and that may cut into it more as, for instance, geekery about the Countdown era won’t be as relevant. Actually, the one thing that sticks out about Richard more is that he’s about a decade older than the other two, and that might cause more issues than anything to do with his sexuality…