Shane Crawford, more than a Footy Show name.
Shane Crawford will send up Miley Cyrus in the annual Footy Show Player Revue.
But first he has to get through The Footy Show‘s annual “Player Revue” at their Grand Final spectacular at Rod Laver Arena. ‘Crawf’ is always one of their star performers and he has been hard at rehearsal. But he let slip to TV Tonight what may comprise his performance.
“All I can say is that it might involve a little bit of lycra,” he said.
“I won’t be naked, I can assure you of that! I’m too old and fat now. But there might be a Miley Cyrus-wrecking ball.
“I’ll probably get in trouble (for telling you).”
The Footy Show is now in its 20th year on Nine and still topping the ratings with its mix of live entertainment and sports.
While most of the cast remain well-known in ‘AFL states’ Crawford (pictured, centre) and Sam Newman are nationally recognised.
“Sam Newman is the star of the show. We don’t know what he’s going to do, or what kind of mood he’s in so it’s always unexpected whatever happens. Although we do expect something a bit different,” Crawford explains.
“Thursday night is all about getting your football fix, but I suppose it’s a bit like Hey Hey it’s Saturday, it goes in lots of different directions and a lot of fun to be a part of.
“You either love him or hate him, but you can’t help but watch him. You never know what’s going to happen.
“I don’t know what he thinks or what goes through his mind but deep down I think he just wants to make good TV.”
Part of the show’s recipe for live comedy is down to keeping its star performers in the dark, to ensure a genuine on-camera reaction to whatever is thrown at them.
“Whenever there are meetings on Tuesdays sometimes you’re asked to leave. There are a lot of things that go on behind your back and you’re not sure what’s going to come at you, so that keeps the Live element,” he says.
“We’re surprised as much as anyone.
“When there’s whispering down the hallway, you know something is going on.”
But in its two decades not everything has gone as planned. If there’s one show that has repeatedly seen Nine in trouble with public and the industry watchdog, ACMA, it’s The Footy Show.
“Probably the biggest live mishap was Sam being dacked and everyone watching the show got to see his private part, or in some cases, parts. If I had my time again I wouldn’t want people getting a close-up of Sam and he wasn’t happy. But that’s what happens with Live TV.”
Newman’s broadsides at various sections of the community have attracted hostile reactions, volatile headlines and directives from ACMA. His 2008 outburst towards journalist Caroline Wilson was amongst the most condemned but Crawford says the team has worked to improve their act.
“In the last few years we’ve really had to watch ourselves and if we feel the show is going in a direction we don’t want we need to pull each other into line. Obviously Sam’s been the one who’s had a few whacks on the backside because of things he’s said and so forth. But we’re very aware of that and everything’s changing. Even in the AFL football world everything’s changing from a playing point of view and what you can and can’t say,” he explains.
“We’re very much aware and I can assure you the Channel Nine lawyers let us know with regular meetings that are very entertaining. They should film them to see the way Sam reacts to the way things need to be and the way things are changing.
“We’re making a show that’s being seen to be fun and we don’t mean to offend. We hope everyone take it in the manner that we do it. We know we’ve stepped over the line and it may happen in the future –it may happen this week- but we’re very aware that we want people to tune in and enjoy the show, not turn off because they’ve been offended.”
Yet Newman’s Street Talk segment, which Crawford often presents, has also been criticised for targeting more vulnerable members of the community. But Crawford insists the presence of a camera on suburban streets brings out all sorts of colourful moments -many of which never make it to air.
“People just go for it. They think this is their chance and they let loose. Even now when they put Street Talk together they have to leave a lot of stuff out,” he says.
“It’s amazing what happens when the red light on the camera goes on even when there are no people around.
“As soon as word gets out there’s a camera and they’re filming Street Talk… it can be quite scary, actually. No wonder Sam wants me to do a few every now and then. It can be pretty full on.”
Beyond his Footy Show commitments, Crawford was a finalist in Celebrity Apprentice and continues with the Victorian travel series, Postcards.
“It was nice to spend some time with some people that you don’t know from a personal point of view, so it was good to get to know the real them. It wasn’t easy finding the energy to film all day and to try and do that for six weeks.
“The first day when people started turning on each other I thought ‘Are they serious?’ It was pretty full on.
“And I do Postcards every Sunday as a travel show, and I enjoy doing that. I’m very lucky that my work with Nine takes me in all different directions. I get to work with some great people.”
This year Crawford also excelled in his charity work for Breast Cancer Network Australia, cycling from Melbourne to Perth and raising more than $1.3m in funds.
“I feel very proud to be able to help. BCNA are very dear to my heart,” he says.
“But I’ve created a bit of a rod for my own back because people say ‘What are you going to do next?’ I tell them I’m going to contribute at home first.
“But it will definitely not be a swimming challenge because there’s no way I’d get in the ocean and swim with all those sharks.
“If there’s ever going to be another challenge it would be running, riding or walking. Definitely not swimming, no way.
“I just think the best way I can help is to come up with some sort of physical challenge and I’ll certainly look to keep on helping while I can. I’ve done a run before and now a ride, so I need to space them out and make sure I can recover and feel reasonably normal before I can attempt something like that.”
AFL Footy Show grand final edition airs 8:30pm Thursday on Nine (check local guides).