The very last new episode of Hot Seat will screen on Nine this Wednesday before repeat episodes take the Millionaire brand into its 25th year on air, to conclude in January.
For Eddie McGuire it’s the end of an era, but one he looks at with great fondness. Quiz shows may not be the most sophisticated of television shows, but McGuire knows how they have changed peoples’ lives.
“For each person coming on, it’s their special moment,” he tells TV Tonight.
“Some people really needed the money. For other people, it was just a bit of sunshine in their life if they won. For me, it was never boring. I never had to ‘gee’ myself up going onto the set. I love meeting people. That’s been my life in media, whether it’s been as a journo interviewing, or doing radio and talkback, hosting these shows, whatever the situation…”
When it marked 2500 episodes in April, Millionaire hosts from around the world paid tribute to McGuire’s long run with the brand.
“I think a lot of people at five o’clock, going into the six o’clock News, found a place that was safe”
Over the decades even quiz shows have quietly evolved to reflect its own audience.
“The last few years particularly, were tremendously gratifying to have so much diversity on the show: racial diversity, living with disability, sexual diversity – everyone came on, everyone was exactly the same. Everyone’s partner in the audience, or a friend or a family member, was there. I think a lot of people at five o’clock, going into the six o’clock News, found a place that was safe,” he observes.
“We had a same sex partner who won the million dollars. It was a great celebration because it was a couple who had been at the forefront of same sex marriage, lobbying for legislation to be changed. A couple in their 50s careers in a midlife crisis, then suddenly, the marriage legislation was changed, they win a million dollars and buy a house. It was an amazing situation for people who had fought against stereotyping.”
With McGuire’s busy commitments, production would pump out multiple episodes in blocks, drawing upon his vast hosting experience, and little need for a second take. That has led to the ‘final’ episode being filmed several months ago, but without any fanfare due to a management decision coming later. On air, it will simply play out like any other Hot Seat episode.
“I probably knew late last year that we’re going to wrap up this year”
“To be honest I probably knew late last year that we’re going to wrap up this year…I don’t think we necessarily knew full stop that it was the last,” he reveals.
“We’d been talking about it probably for 18 months, about whether we kept going with the show.
“I know this becomes a bit of a cliche in television. But, when I announced that it was finishing, I said it was going into hiatus, because there’s no doubt in the world it will come back -whether as Who Wants to be a Millionaire? or one of the different variations around the world. It’s too good a show. I get stopped in the street all the time by people saying ,‘Tell me it’s not going.’ So people really love it.”
He also wants to reflect on its success. McGuire has asked over 50,000 questions of some 15,000 contestants. While just two people have won the million dollars (4 including Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?), and 34 contestants have won $250,000, the show has given away more than $60 million.
“What a great staple in my career”
“I think that’s where people get things wrong in media. Everybody always thinks about the last two minutes, rather than the last 25 years. For me, it’s been so much fun. What a great staple in my career, that I was able to do everything else around it, from AFL to Olympic Games, hosting state memorials, all those things. For the last 25 years it has been a constant.”
If it were to come back at some point, would McGuire return as host?
“I love the show and 25 years has been a massive chunk of my life. If it came back with someone else I’d be just as was excited for them. Television is an evolution and I’ve always embraced that,” he continues.
Next year he will feature on Footy Classified, Nine’s Olympics broadcast and, if rumours prove true, a likely Melbourne Cup deal for the network.
“We’ll have to wait and see where it lands. If it ends up at Nine I’m sure I’ll be a part of it,” he teased.
For now Nine’s evolution will mean a local version of UK game show Tipping Point, hosted by tennis champ turned TV presenter, Todd Woodbridge. Whether it can match Hot Seat’s run of 14 years remains to be seen. What advice does McGuire offer?
“Just enjoy it. You’re not going to work, you’re actually turning up every day to make people’s dreams come true,” he suggests. “People sit there watching your show, debating whether they should audition. When they turn up on the day, it’s one of the biggest days in their lives.
“Just be there to be a part of it and make it as much fun as you possibly can.”
Final first run Hot Seat screens 5pm Wednesday on Nine (repeats continue into January).