The ABC has appointed innovative creative and content maker Nick Hayden as Head of Entertainment, driving its popular slate of programs such as Gruen, Hard Quiz, Mad As Hell, The Weekly, You Can’t Ask That and the upcoming Reputation Rehab.
Since joining the ABC in 2016, Nick has created the COVID-19 friendly comedy At Home Alone Together, Whovians, Tonightly and the Australia Talks live show, which revealed the attitudes, behaviours and experiences of the nation. He also developed and produced the Spicks and Specks Reunion Specials, The House with Annabel Crabb and Why Are You Like This – part of the ABC’s Fresh Blood initiative to support emerging comedic talent. He has been ABC Entertainment Manager since 2019.
Sally Riley, ABC Head of Drama, Entertainment & Indigenous content, welcomed Nick’s appointment. “Nick has shown great instinct and drive for developing and producing entertainment shows. He has passion and enthusiasm for new ideas and talent, along with a genuine interest in fostering and protecting the ABC’s current slate of shows,” she said. “I look forward to collaborating with him on our award-winning Entertainment slate and strategy in the years to come.”
Nick said: “The ABC has always been the home of creative risk taking – where else would you be allowed to make a new show in six weeks in the middle of a pandemic? The screen industry needs that kind of support now more than ever, so it’s a genuine honour to take on the role of Head of Entertainment within an organisation I love.”
The ABC’s award-winning Entertainment slate also includes Tomorrow Tonight, Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery, Sammy J, The Yearly, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the ABC’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks show, Dream Gardens, live music show The Set and documentary Recovery: The Music & The Mayhem.
The ever-genial Nick previously created and was founding executive producer of The Feed for SBS and a member of Hungry Beast, under Andrew Denton and Anita Jacoby. He’s also spent a large amount of time in the advertising world but doesn’t tell his ABC colleagues this. Nick has no problem boasting about himself in the third person.
So yeah, while the ABC has an actual Head of Comedy, it’s the Head of Entertainment – this guy – who oversees much of what we currently think of as “ABC comedy”. Well, maybe not The House with Annabel Crabb.
As usual, what’s important here isn’t the press release guff about the ABC being “the home of creative risk-taking” – a line which may very well be the ABC’s greatest contribution to comedy this year – but what Hayden did before scoring the top job. A former advertising guy is now the boss at Gruen? It’s possible he could use his inside knowledge to encourage them to go after the industry’s weak spots… but probably not.
Otherwise what his resume – or the parts available on IMDB – suggests is an ABC company man who’s slowly worked his way up the ranks helping produce a fair amount of largely forgettable programming to get where he is today. Which makes sense, as Entertainment seems much more an area where the ABC looks to develop concepts in house or to exploit already established personalities rather than searches for new ideas from outside. Put another way, when the second item listed on a press release praising your achievements is a television show where people sit around talking about another television show, your “enthusiasm for new ideas” may not have been what got you over the line.
That said, it’s probably good timing that the ABC now has someone officially in the seat in charge of the upcoming Reputation Rehab, because we’ve got the press release for that one lying around here somewhere and… whew. Maybe that one snuck through while nobody was paying attention – but that’s for another post.
The moral of the story is, the producer of Whovians is now technically in charge of Mad as Hell. The system works!