Should the ABC revamp Spicks & Specks?

When the talent wants out of a hit show, is it time to call it quits or time to revamp? ABC plays it cool, with little room for scrutiny.

The ABC’s decision to allow Spicks and Specks to end with the departure of its presenting team may be respectful to Adam Hills, Myf Warhurst and Alan Brough, but it is a risky move given the success of the show.

All three indicated they wanted to leave the show on a high note, something other production companies such as Working Dog have always done so well. But the difference is none of the three talent own the rights to the show, which is an ABC property.

Whilst it is hard to envision a future for the show without Hills, other ABC properties including 7:30 and Collectors have recently undergone revamped presenting teams in order to keep them part of the ABC family.

Spicks and Specks’ popularity has enabled the broadcaster to build its Wednesday block and introduce all manner of light entertainment shows including The Gruen Transfer, The Librarians, Hungry Beast, and comedies by Chris Lilley and Lawrence Leung.

Since the announcement neither ABC1 Channel Controller Brendan Dahill nor Amanda Duthie, ABC TV Head of Arts and Entertainment, have been available for interviews, which as a public broadcaster is disappointing.

The ABC issued a statement from Duthie: “The success of Spicks and Specks has been very much due to the relationship between Adam, Myf and Alan. It’s not just a format – they are the show. They’ve left very big boots to fill, and we wouldn’t attempt to replace the magic of Adam, Myf and Alan.”

Whilst Adam Hills has done select radio interviews discussing the news, producers have declined print interviews for him.

So could the show have continued with a new host while retaining Warhurst and Brough?

Long-running UK music panel show Never Mind the Buzzcocks has enjoyed several seasons with guest presenters after the exit of two regular hosts.

The team of Hills / Warhurst / Brough is tight, and the Press Release indicates all wanted to depart together which presumably would have forced the ABC into a pretty hopeless situation. But a commercial broadcaster may have found other ways to encourage some of them to stay put, in order to protect its brand.

Perhaps ABC’s plan is to allow some time to pass before reviving the show with a new team in a few years’ time? Then it could feasibly return as Spicks and Specks 2.0. in 2015 without the shadow of Adam Hills and co.

24 Responses

  1. A revamp could work. I used to love the show but the last few years have been boring. The same guest all the time and I’m sure I’ve heard the same questions a few times, too.

    A new host and a good mix up of the show could do wonders for it.

    Richard Stubbs would be awesome for this show. He was great hosting the old Steve Vizard show…

  2. Rest it for 18 months and search for new team. Low key re-launch and roll from there. Look at the very long history of Top Gear, it used to be a vehicle review show, was rested and came back as an entertainment show with a motoring theme. So anything is possible

  3. has anyone allowed for the fact that those guys had done the show for a while and were just a bit bored? and perhaps that the abc have something else in the pipeline that would be much more interesting? This is identical to the bitching and calls of incompetence that followed the cancellation of the glass house in order to make room for the chaser. spicks has run a good course, you dont need to run things forever. the abc in particular shouldnt run things forever just because theyre popular. let daryll sommers do that… change is good.

  4. The ABC is to television what the CSIRO is to science….a breeding ground for ideas and talent. Once a concept is proven in the lab it becomes commercialised much like the development of wireless (a little known CSIRO achievement). We fund the ABC not to play it safe. RIP Spicks & Specks but long live an ABC free from commercial influence.

  5. @Max – how do you know it’s boring if you’ve never watched an episode? S&S is one show I’d never call “boring”, unless you think music itself is boring perhaps?

  6. I reckon it wouldn’t have been too hard to have talked Myf & Alan to stay. The ABC could possibly have been more creative in it’s negotiations – It isn’t always $ that gets a contract deal over the line. Given the popularity of the show in ratings terms and it’s place after all this time as a cornerstone/launchpad for their Wednesday late night comedy block, it would be good to know more about that aspect – did they (ABC) really try all that hard, have another agenda, or are they culturally defeatist or just incompetent?
    Adam, on the other hand, is now in another league, with his AHIGST show and obviously broad commercial appeal. So how they approached negotiations with him would probably have been a bit more complicated. At least in the wash-up, he still seems to have stayed with the ABC for now.
    A new host would have been the answer, along with a freshen up or redesign of the set and graphics. Hamish Blake would have been my first choice as host if the big $ at Nine hadn’t got there first.
    I agree with earlier comments that an integral part of the ‘brand’ of S&S was the 3 incumbents. Now the announcement has been made public, I don’t think S&S could be re-made with an entirely new host & team leaders at the same time.

    If the ABC feels a relatively inexpensive show regularly getting well over a million viewers is expendable, then the government really needs to ask some questions of the board on behalf of we taxpayers. I often wonder where the ABC heads are at when I see S&S just disappear like this. I also wonder why in all the time S&S has been on air, the look has never been updated or refreshed. Apart from the cast ageing, there is visually not a lot of difference between episode one and now.

    The ABC have form in this. Remember The Einstein Factor? It gave them a pretty good early evening ratings return for dollars spent, attracting 600k to just under a million viewers in a slot leading to the 7pm News & with all the might of the commercials top shows against it. Yet they just let it fade away. IMO it still had life, could still be quirky and relevant – yet again, from what I saw over it’s life, no money ever seemed to be spent to renew it as the years rolled on.

  7. A totally new panel, all in one year? That would be a Huge risk and I can’t see it working.

    They need to retain at least one, preferably two of them. Hills is going to AHIGST. So make Brough the host for a few seasons. Keep Warhurst as a team captain until we’re used to the changed panel and bring in Denise Scott or Hamish Blake as the other team captain for a year.

    After that, it would be OK to move one person on each year. But there’s no way the show could survive in its current format losing all three.

  8. And you know what? As sure as eggs are eggs people are going to say, “It’s not the same without Adam, Alan or Myf.” The ABC can’t win- they get criticised for letting a very popular show leave (be it something like Kath and Kim) or trying to revamp an existing property with new faces (who people will, rightly or wrongly, criticise for not being like the originals.)

  9. To keep Brough and Warhurst while introducing a new host for a season overlap would have been nice. And there are plenty of guest panelist who could become regulars if they were so Inclined. Hamish is almost a regular and should have some more free time now.

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