The Face That Would Not Die

Daryl Somers is not the absolute worse human being ever to make repeat appearances on Australian television, but he almost certainly is the worst person to host Dancing With the Stars which means he’s beaten out at least one confirmed racist. Isn’t Australian television great?

Not that Daryl’s got a particularly clean record when it comes to racial issues, or sexism, or workplace bullying, or homophobia, or literally anything else you can think of when you think of someone you wouldn’t hesitate to call a garbage human being. Back on our screens in 2021, everyone!

Aussie legend”? Yeah, nah.

Now Daryl’s back hosting Dancing With the Stars, a gig he quit over a decade ago because Channel Seven wouldn’t bring back Hey Hey it’s Saturday, a career decision that’s somewhat similar to smashing your indoor toilet because you want to go take a crap in a hole in your backyard. That means media outlets are asking him for his views on comedy, despite him never having actually worked in the field. Let’s save you the bother: he’s not happy with the modern world, because the modern world no longer airs programs where a man in a duck suit dry humps stage equipment and cast members for minutes at a time.

Obviously it’s no surprise whatsoever that the 69 year-old washed up host of a repeatedly axed variety show remembered now largely for featuring a blackface act is unhappy with comedy today:

‘You probably could not get away with half the stuff you could on Hey Hey now because of the political correctness and the cancel culture. It is a shame because showbiz does not get much of a chance.’

So making jokes about the sexual orientation of your music segment host and giving the only woman on the show a theme song with the lyrics “folks are dumb where I come from” is Daryl’s idea of showbiz? We’d hate to see what he calls live entertainment oh wait that’s Hey Hey it’s Saturday… so yeah, we’d hate to see that.

We’ve been sinking the boot into Daryl for a long, long time now, because there’s literally no reason for him to be on television and yet he comes on coming back. There’s no mystery to this: he keeps on returning because there’s a segment of the Australian media that props him up, makes light of his shitty behaviour, refuses to investigate any story that could possibly paint him in a bad light, glosses over the general disinterest in him shown by the general public, and just generally gives him an outlet for his boring, ill-informed, self-absorbed views. Or as we pointed out a decade ago:

On Thursday October 8th, the day after the blackface skit went to air, The Herald-Sun ran a small story on page seven about the previous night’s episode of Hey Hey. Mostly consisting of a photo of the Hey Hey team, the short sidebar covered the impressive ratings for last night’s show, and in the final three sentences mentioned that Harry Connick Jr. hadn’t been impressed by a blackface skit on Red Faces. This wasn’t a case where a Herald-Sun reporter thought someone down the line might be offended: this was a case where someone ON THE ACTUAL SHOW ITSELF was clearly offended and with obvious good reason. Not to mention the internet pretty much exploded over it. Three sentences on page 7, huh?

The trouble with bringing Daryl back is that he’s shit and the show he made is also shit. Maybe there was a time when it wasn’t shit – but if there was, it was a good fifteen years before it was axed, meaning at least half of his career was spent hosting a show that was, let’s say again for those up the back, shit. There’s no debate here, no “but it was a product of its time”. There are shows “of it’s time” that are now problematic, or ill-advised; Hey Hey was shit then and its shit now.

Maybe you have fond memories of Hey Hey it’s Saturday. Maybe you’ve also heard of the term “rose coloured glasses”. Even in its heyday Hey Hey was a show largely built around rambling segments where Daryl Somers dominated proceedings while a pack of underlings made dubious racist and sexist jokes in an attempt to curry favour. Even at the time it was a backwards looking show, celebrating the kinds of jokes and variety acts that were dying everywhere else; no wonder Daryl was puzzled that a blackface act wouldn’t fly in 2009.

And yet here we are in 2021 still having to put up with him twenty years past his use-by date. Yeah, we get it, nostalgia nostalgia nostalgia. But a lot of things people remember warmly – Summer Heights High, The Glasshouse, Please Like Me, Randling, that one episode of Housos that wasn’t garbage – have been consigned to the past with nary a murmur. Times change, people move on, bad television is buried.

It’s time we buried Daryl Somers with the rest of the trash.

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