1 9 9 0 – 1 9 9 3 (Australia)
This live Australian comedy chat show was broadcast on the Seven Network in Australia five nights a week from February 1990 to November 1993, usually commencing at 10.30 pm every weeknight.
Presented by Australian comedian (and ex-lawyer) Steve Vizard, the show’s format was an eclectic mix of a traditional Tonight Show, such as The Late Show With David Letterman (to which it owed a large debt) with more off-beat elements, such as broadcasting a rehearsal of the show, a rained out show, a parallel Tonight show, using the floor manager and cameramen as on-air talent, using the studio audience to replace high-profile guests etc.
The show consistently won the late-night ratings around Australia and won several awards including Variety Club Awards, Television Society Awards and Logie Awards – including a Gold Logie for Steve Vizard as Most Popular Person on Australian Television in 1991.
As with the US Letterman show, Tonight Live established an “on-air family” which included the floor manager, Merv Ford, and camera operator Jack Degenkamp (“the world’s oldest cameraman”) who gave tips on clog dancing and delivered a Christmas message on the last show of the year.
Following the Dave Letterman formula even further, the show featured its own in-house band, led by renowned jazz pianist and composer Paul Grabowsky. Each show also featured a short news update, which made a star of newsreader Jennifer Keyte (who Vizard called “the newsreader with the mostest”).
Over 2,000 guests were interviewed on the show during its run, including Bob Hope, Mel Gibson, Chevy Chase, Duran Duran, Cilla Black, Steve Allen, Tom Jones, Tiny Tim, Kylie Minogue, Audrey Hepburn, Alice Cooper, BB King, Kirk Douglas, Olivia Newton-John, Phil Collins, Peter Allen, Michael Aspel, Whoopi Goldberg, John Thaw, Quincy Jones, Priscilla Presley, Robert Downey Jnr, Mickey Rooney, Martin Sheen, MC Hammer, ZZ Top, Jeremy Irons, Jeffrey Archer, Edward de Bono, Jackie Collins, Sir Harry Secombe, Burt Reynolds, Billy Joel, Bette Midler, Ben Elton, Phyllis Diller, Alexei Sayle, Oliver Reed, Robin Williams and various Prime Ministers and politicians.