1 9 7 1 – 1 9 9 9 (Australia)
Millions of episodes (seems like)
This Australian variety show began life on 6 October 1971 as an early Saturday morning show for kids, hosted by Daryl Somers and a life-sized ostrich puppet called Ossie.
It became an adult-oriented Saturday night show (moving from its morning timeslot to the 9.30 pm timeslot in February 1984) where it was a ratings winner for the Nine Network.
Hey Hey used all the technical and audiovisual resources of TV itself to make everyone and everything in the show part of the comedy.
For example, viewers rarely saw John Blackman, but he was a regular voice off-screen, doing impersonations, being sarcastic about guest acts and cast members, or making dry jokes and performing “insult comedy.”
This visual “absence” was countered by the highly visual cartoon jokes flashed on the screen at any moment.
Puppet Ossie Ostrich would comment on everything dryly and ironically. The other puppet, Little Dickie (a blue head held on a stick, with a raspy voice provided by John Blackman), might suddenly rush forward and be rude about someone or something.
Sadly, the format gradually grew old, predictable and tedious.
The “Media Watch” segment always presented the same old funny items taken from the provincial press.
“Red Faces” offered mediocre amateur acts, but everyone was really just waiting for former Skyhooks star Red Symons to hit the gong.
“Ad Nauseum” was just a quiz show about TV ads; “What Cheeses Me Off” was just a forum for (very) petty complaints, and “Beat It” was just a music quiz.
Hey Hey eventually seemed to become the graveyard of Australian talent (at least the Ostrich was smart enough to quit in the 80s) and finally finished in November 1999.
If you had nothing to do on a Saturday night, it was OK to watch to see which international guests were on the show, but you had to keep the remote control handy and get ready to flick channels if you saw Daryl Somers so much as go near a drum kit . . .
Hey Hey continued to trudge on for 27 years, and frankly, it really started to show. The same old segments (Chook Lotto, Red Faces, Celebrity Head), the same old people (Plucka, Red, Molly) – and Daryl trying to bond with the “younger generation” was always embarrassing.
Typical quote: “Do we have enough time? We don’t have enough time? I think . . . yes? . . . no, I’m afraid we’re out of time” It happened every week.
And now it’s finally gone. It had its moments, now if only we could be sure that we’ve really seen the last of it.
Ian “Molly” Meldrum