Say hi to your mum for me: Why Rove is confident he can take back Saturday night

Saturday night isn’t exactly a hot spot for television viewers - beyond sport or movie reruns, there isn’t much that can draw a viewer’s eyes to the box. But Rove McManus is confident he’s got the right antidote to dire Saturday night programming. He tells Mumbrella’s Hannah Blackiston why he thinks viewers are ready for Saturday Night Rove.

It wasn’t necessarily the next place we thought we’d see Rove McManus, but last year, during Ten’s first Pilot Week, there he was. 10 years after he’d told us to say hi to our mums for him for the last time, Rove was back on our screens with Bring Back Saturday Night, a return to the live comedy/ talk show format that made him famous all those years ago on Rove Live. Pulling 203,000 metro viewers, the show wasn’t the most-watched of the pilots, but it was commissioned for a 2019 season.

That season will kick-off tomorrow, and in the lead up I was granted a quick phone interview with Rove, who was no doubt in the middle of the kind of hardcore press round one has to embark on when they’re mononymous. Despite that, he was incredibly friendly and perky when I spoke to him, and was keen to tell me why he believes audiences are ready to return to Saturday nights on the couch.

Rove will be back on screens on Saturday 

“We have to remember that one of the most successful television shows we ever had was on a Saturday night, Hey Hey It’s Saturday which almost ran for 30 years. So there is an audience there, and I know it was a much much different era to what we have now with the ways people can consume their content and the list of options that is seemingly endless. But I do feel there is an audience we aren’t being served on a Saturday,” Rove says.

“If you don’t want to watch sport, if you don’t want to watch a murder mystery from the BBC or if you’re not happy to watch a movie that’s 20 to 30 years old, then, of course, you’re going to go off free to air and start searching elsewhere. I think for me, what would I be watching out of those options and I know at the moment, I know where my sporting team are at on the ladder and as we head into football finals it’s not that interesting to me, and they’re not always playing on a Saturday night anyway, and I’m not one of those people who watched absolutely every game, and I’m not going to tune in to find which quaint English village has had a murder this week, so what are my options?”

Rove during his Rove Live days with Kevin Rudd and Bruno

Using himself as the example, a father with a young family who isn’t out on a Saturday night, but who still wants content that’s entertaining and engaging, Rove says he strongly believes there’s an audience there to be targeted. To begin with, that’s what success looks like for Saturday Night Rove to him – to answer those needs and to fulfil the audience that he believes is there.

“Obviously we have long-term hopes and dreams, and the idea is that there’s a seed that can be planted and with the right care and love and attention it will grow into something that could be quite successful.”

Once we jump the giant hurdle that is ‘Do viewers watch Saturday night television?’ we come to the next one. It’s a very different world in 2019 from 1999 when Rove Live premiered, or 2000 when it moved to its long-term home of Ten. The Logie-winning format, which won Most Popular Light Entertainment Program in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009, featured content like Sex Office, Who Would You Turn Gay For?, and a famed interview with Sacha Baron Cohen’s character Bruno which had to be censored. But if Saturday Night Rove is going to follow a similar unscripted comedy format, is Rove worried audiences may now respond differently to how they did in 2000?

“We’ll see what happens after our first show, but the response to the pilot was really positive and while there’ll always be some trolls in there for the sake of it, I was saying to people ‘Don’t look at the comments after the pilot aired’ but they said ‘You really should, they’re amazing’. So it does feel like there’s an element of demand for this type of show. As far as the ideas we’re picking, we’re not pulling any punches for what we’re trying to do. We’re not thinking ‘If we do this joke or this idea what would be the fallout of it?’, otherwise you’d never do anything. So really it’s about getting into it as best we can.

“I think the biggest issues have been in the boring legal stuff. We used to be able to show sets of other shows, or send a camera to someone’s house. There’s just a few more hoops you have to jump to, or forms you have to sign. As far as the creative goes, we’re still just trying to make a funny, entertaining and engaging show.”

What that will look like in practice we don’t yet know, but if Rove is as confident in the audiences as he sounds, we should expect to see him Bring Back Saturday Night.


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