When we tuned into the first Hey Hey special last Wednesday, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It’s been ten years since the show ended, which seems like a long time, but most of the regulars from back then are still around.
I first watched Hey Hey when I was a kid, when it was shown on Saturday mornings. It could be quite absurdist, and they’d freely admit when there was no audience present, panning the camera around an empty studio while playing audience sound effects. When it switched to evenings, I kept watching, and I certainly recall tuning in most weeks into the mid-90s, though I don’t recall if I kept watching to the very end.
What we got in the reunion was, essentially, the same show as it was in the 90s. I got some laughs out of it, and was fairly unimpressed by the musical numbers, just like in the 90s. (For me the musical numbers, unless it’s a guest artist of particular interest, just punctuate the rest of the show.) Likewise it seems people who never liked it weren’t impressed this time round.
But what surprised me was that, after a little encouragement, the kids got hooked. We were all sitting in the motel room in Bendigo, and possibly due to the style of humour (never too clever or subtle) they were rivetted to the screen until we switched off at about 9:40 to get some shut-eye. The Disasterchef skit, Molly’s dog and Dicky Knee, and the Red Faces Vegemite kid all kept us laughing. As did the old Maurie Fields joke, though I’m not sure why they bothered to splice that old and new footage together to do it.
In perhaps a similar way to the successful resurrection of Doctor Who (which is BBC1’s second-highest-rating programme), it would appear that “family entertainment” is a demographic that TV networks would do well to try and target more often — the Hey Hey special got more than 3 million people tuning in across the nation. (Note some media said 2.1 million — apparently this is capital cities only.)
Since we missed the end of the show, I hoped to set the VCR for Saturday’s repeat, but it was pulled at the last minute. No matter, we’ll be tuning in to the second special tonight. It’ll be interesting to see if the cast can maintain the momentum, and whether the huge audience numbers are sustained. If they can, and they are, then surely Channel 9 would have to seriously consider bringing back the show for a full season.