I went along to watch this live broadcast, a big hope of Nine’s to turn around its struggling Mondays.
This was the first time Nine’s popular show had been produced in about eighteen months, and for McGuire his first real live TV hosting in about two years.
Watching him at work was quite something.
McGuire walked onto the set brimming with excitement, and like a TV ringmaster opened the show entirely off script. He strode through the show’s rules, changes and format in a single take, ignoring the autocue that was there for support. Clearly he knew this show like the back of his hand and nobody was going to get in his way of selling it up McGuire style. Say what you want about Eddie Everywhere, but when it comes to hosting he is consummate.
As the show unfolded and Maddy the first contestant slipped at the $1,000 mark the disappointment was almost palpable. We’d all wanted her to get into the stratosphere. When the cameras stopped rolling, Eddie consoled her, although I think she was so flat she probably didn’t hear him. Walking off, more cameras were shooting a “behind the scenes” segment, possibly for A Current Affair?
“Krusty” the second contestant managed to hit $8,000. Another disappointment. So far David Gyngell’s $5M giveaway wasn’t going anywhere.
When the third contestant used two lifelines in order to decide whether John Fahey was a Premier in NSW or SA, Eddie was seeing his big night slip away. He wanted her to lock in NSW but the contestant made everyone go through the motions of a second lifeline. Finally she got to the $16,000 mark and the show ended on a good note.
Ironically the home viewer contestant, a new addition, picked up a cool $10,000 with less sweating than the studio contestants.
In commercial breaks Eddie answered questions from the studio audience. Are you bringing 1 vs 100 back? (Yes maybe next week, maybe next year). Where do you get the contestants from? (They audition, get interviewed). Will Collingwood take Ben Cousins? (Eddie thought he should be given support, taken away from footy for a while to get his life back together). What ratings did he predict for tonight? (Dunno. 1-point-something would be nice). Can I have an autograph for my mum? (Yes but it’s really for you, right?). Do you have a tip for the Cox Plate? (Devil Moon).
Eddie’s on-air gag that after all these years he still couldn’t pronounce “Meeyonaire” properly was priceless.
At the conclusion when Nine wanted to shoot a promo for next week’s show, McGuire was quick to knock it over, politely ordering production crew to get the thing done. “Righto, come on, let’s do this,” he shot.
Millionaire was also extremely security conscious. Phones are checked and cloaked. There are strict rules about whispering, nodding and of course, coughing. Aside from that warm-up guy Sean Cosgrove (yes Price is Right’s Mr “Come on Down.”) encouraged us to whoop it up.
Those of you wondering if Eddie has the answers on his screen, it’s a flat no. He sees exactly the same as the contestant: one question, four answers. He isn’t given the answer until the contestant has locked in an answer.
Eddie also plugged Viva Laughlin even conceding on air that US critics had dubbed it “the worst show ever,” a claim he thought was misguided. During the commercial break he was still baulking at the reviews.
The show finished five minutes over. It seems, some things on Millionaire never change. Viva Laughlin would be going up late, which won’t help its launch.
After thanking the audience Eddie was gone. Elvis had left the building, and was about to go sing with Hugh Jackman.