Tina Arena: “Why have we become so incredibly greedy as viewers?”

Talent shows are big business in television but Tina Arena, who judged on TEN’s Young Talent Time earlier this year, believes that bigger isn’t always better, especially when there are kids involved.

While the the show began well as part of TEN’s ‘Super Sunday’ line-up,YTT was eventually moved to Friday nights. Despite encouraging reviews for host Rob Mills and the junior talent, some questioned whether the show’s nostalgic format could compete against the new breed of Reality / Talent shows.

But a forthright Arena remains a true believer in the format.

“From a talent perspective it was really great all round and I hope it can continue to build on what I think are pretty good values. I love the fact that there’s a great deal of humility on it which you don’t see much on TV anymore, ” Arena recently told TV Tonight.

“But why have we become so incredibly greedy as viewers? That’s a question that I ask myself.

“Do you need to be smacked every five seconds with some new trick? I don’t get it. Then again I’m a different demographic. I’m a different age.”

Unlike Australia’s Got Talent, The Voice, and Australian Idol, all driven by elimination dramas and audience voting, YTT stayed true to its 1970s format with purely judges voting. But did that leave it looking too old-fashioned with viewers weaned on building the drama?

“I don’t think every show needs to follow that format. I think there’s a danger in that and I think YTT should probably steer clear of all of that. Stick with the trademark and stick with just making good quality TV as opposed to bringing out bells and whistles every five minutes to try and keep up with the Joneses? Who cares?” Arena insists.

“But of course, everybody feels they have to keep up with the Joneses perpetually, which is their downfall as far as I’m concerned.

“The question I pose is does everything have to be so bloody immense? What happened to just watching people grow and evolve? Just sitting down and enjoying TV … that’s sort of the way I look at it.”

Arena’s return to the show, as a YTT discovery, certainly gave the rebooted show some star power and acknowledgment of the debt she owes to original host Johnny Young.

“It would have been really stupid of me to not appreciate where I’ve come from. That show was extraordinary grounding and an extraordinary apprenticeship and I’m sorry, those apprenticeships do not exist anymore,” she says.

“We’re dealing with a different beast today. It’s a celebrity beast and it’s a very dangerous one. When people wake up to that hopefully we can review and maybe do things a little differently. I look forward to that.”

Despite ending their run in early May, the YTT team has just finished a 14-show tour of the country, performing to family audiences. While the ratings may not have delivered bumper figures, the cast still draws a big crowd at public appearances.

The bigger question now is where to from here and whether Arena would return for a second season, given she still has an active music career and a home in France.

TEN is understood to have been considering other models for the show to continue in some form, but is yet to make any announcements.

“We haven’t had any discussions. None of us have reconvened,” Arena recently said. “Obviously the network has a lot of things they would be going through.

“I wish it the best. I believe in it. (YTT‘s format) was ahead of its time and again I will say that I think the beautiful, human, and humility factor is something that I can’t put a price on.

“And it’s not a bought franchise that costs millions of dollars. It’s Australian, it’s unique and hopefully it allows children to be children. That’s what’s really important.”


  1. Neil Forbes

    One further comment I’d like to add on YTT. If and when it does make a welcome return, then a few suggestions, If Rob Mills is unavailable, then why not have Jamie Redfern host the show, or John Bowles? Also, a show like YTT needs to be produced in a “proper” TV studio, with plenty of room to move around, and have a proper “host-set”, which is the space Johnny Young used to occupy in the original version of YTT.

  2. Neil Forbes

    I’m in full agreement with Tina Arena. And I don’t think the show concentrated too heavily on the contestants, it was a fairly even mix of the team and the contestants. The beauty of the newer version of the show is that it wasn’t influenced by that hamburger merchant that spoiled the remaining years of the original YTT(puppets and animal characters are okay for tots but there were teenagers in that show and those puppets were just too childish for them). There was one name missing from the credits at the end of the new YTT, that of the late Kevin Lewis, who was senior partner in Lewis/Young Productions and deserves equal credit for creating the original YTT format.
    Perhaps Granada should take the new YTT to another network, one that will treat this iconic format with the respect it truly deserves!

  3. Also, the actual people behind choosing music were appalling. If you want people to watch, don’t have bloody 80s nights. It’s 2012. Young people want to watch too, and why would they when we have a constant barrage of themed tv and crappy songs.

    The music wasn’t good for the performers and it wasn’t entertaining for viewers. It feels like it’s targeting mums and dads, not the entire family.

  4. toriwannabe

    “hopefully it allows children to be children.”

    Amen to that. Children are not mini adults and I wish TV reflected that more these days.

  5. I agree with idiotbox, ytt this year spent too much time on the talent quest and not the talent team. In the earlier episodes this year the talent team were only singing 3 or 4 songs an episode and the talent quest dragged on over the 4 segments. When YTT was on years ago the talent quest was done in one segment and the rest of the show was about the talent team. I recently saw the YTT Team in concert where they performed and sang Live, they were sensational. I hope the show returns. Not on a friday niught in the graveyard shift.

  6. I think part of the problem with YTT’s new incarnation was that it focused so much on the contestants.
    Contenstants were part of the original YTT but they weren’t the main focus of the show. The Team was. As Tina said, it was an apprenticeship for the team and we as viewers loved tuning in each week to watch the team learn and grow as performers. It was also a major event when a team member left the show and a new one joined the team.
    If they stripped back the competition part of the show and focussed more on the team’s talents the show could still work. That “stage” set would also have to go. It was boring week after week. Part of the fun of the original show were the daggy colourful new sets each week…even if they were made of cardboard.

  7. @LCDtv

    Unfort quality does not pay for the programming we all watch. Ratings do however.

    And if 17 million had something better to do when the Voice was on. Then 20 million had something better to do when YTT was on

  8. Well said Tina. Bells and whistles don’t mean anything.. except to the manufacturers of bells and whistles. To those who think ratings rule.. ratings measure quantity.. not quality.
    And it’s also important to remember that if 3.4 million watched that episode of The Voice, well over 17 million Aussies had something better to do at the time.

  9. Is it not the case that the contestants of these shows are greedy themselves. Also, we’ve seen that judges on these shows tend to give sympathy votes and sugar-coated feedback as well to not be harsh, rather than supporting genuine talent.

  10. I don’t think it’s viewers asking for all the bells and whistles, it’s the producers looking to create the “drama” to produce the controversy that will ensure a wider exposure in other media the next day.Its all the same formula, whether its The Block, The Voice or whatever.

  11. Ah honey. You’re a singer not a TV producer. Let the producers figure out how to produce television.

    And have you checked the ratings for your 1970’s YTT verses the Voice. Something like 400,000 V 3.4 million.

    Tell me again that viewers don’t need “tricks”

    Love these “talent” people who are so out of touch with what viewers want to watch.

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