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Old Rock dogs and new tricks

TV Tonight visits St Kilda's 'Espy Hotel' for RocKwiz and chats to producer Peter Bain-Hogg.

The ‘Espy Hotel’ was heaving on a warm St Kilda night when TV Tonight dropped by for a recording of RocKwiz.

There were die-hard fans, rock trivia afficionados, and walking music encyclopedias out to test their mettle as Julia Zemiro hosted two more episodes of SBS’ famed trivia show.

Producer Peter Bain-Hogg from Renegade Films, who co-created the show with Brian Nankervis (pictured) and Ken Connor, told TV Tonight the show has succeeded because of its grass-roots pitch as a pub trivia night on the box.

“That’s why it works on a Saturday night so well,” he said. ” I think it was (critic) Catherine Deveny that said in an article ‘staying home is the new going out.’ I think she enjoyed it. It’s raucous, loud and a little bit crazy. That’s kind of what it is.”

The show has now been running for four years. There have even been bites for the format from overseas.

“We sold the format to Screentime, who subsequently sold it to a UK company. But they really didn’t get any traction on it. We’ve now got an American agent who’s working on it, and another UK agent.

“There was almost a deal in Spain at one stage. Almost. We saw this fantastic big book that they did which was RocKwiz in Spanish, which was just hysterical.”

Fronted by the effervescent Zemiro, ably supported by Nankervis, it has won the admiration of the music industry -both established and indie, alike.

Upcoming guests include Cram from Spiderbait, Glen Richards from Augie March, ex Go Betweens Amanda Brown, Tim Finn and Toni Childs.

There will also be a festive revisiting of a 2007 special.

“We’re repeating the xmas special that we shot last year at the Palais, which was a great success. SBS decided to repeat it.”

Nankervis, who is well known for his stand-up comedy act (and appearances on Hey Hey its Saturday and Let The Blood Run Free), works the crowd hard at the Esplanade Hotel. In the hallowed Gershwin Room he doubles as both audience warm-up man and adjudicator.

As the hotel doubles as a makeshift production studio, crew are squeezed in between pub tables, and the hotel loading dock. Nankervis, and the RocKwiz Orkestra, even have has to entertain the crowd when an unforseen power blackout at the hotel loses all lights and sound minutes before the recording began. Such is the old warhorse that is RocKwiz.

While its residency on SBS seems assured, Bain-Hogg still holds out hope the series will see the light of day overseas.

“We’re hopeful that somebody, somewhere at some stage will see it and go ‘yeah!'”

RocKwiz airs 9:20pm Saturday on SBS.

3 Responses

  1. Let the Blood Run Free is one show worth bring back.
    Lucky me was in the audience for taping of show.
    David, it seems some shows (mainly on SBS/ABC) give you great access to them and answer your probing questions fairly.

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