You’re Back in the Room

In the studio they were in fits of laughter, but Nine's hypnosis show is one joke that drags on too long.


Sometimes TV turns up a show that critics will detest but polarises audiences into lovers and haters, with nothing in between. Look to 2015’s Cats Make You Laugh Out Loud.

But there are also shows that nobody likes. Ben Elton: Live from Planet Earth anybody? Mesmerised perhaps?

Quite where You’re Back in the Room lands remains to be seen. Nine’s best chance is the former, because this long, unsophisticated show is unlikely to win over many know-all critics (including this one).

This should really have been called You Had to Be in the Room. The studio audience is having such a rollicking, hysterical time that it leaves you wondering why you are not getting the joke, sitting at home on the couch. Yes, there is an enormous disconnect with Nine’s new entertainment show.

I found it excruciating television that dragged on so long I nearly wound up in the foetal position.

Fundamentally, I just did not believe what I was seeing -a crucial question that hangs over any show built around hypnosis, magic or psychic powers.

This is a UK format that purports to be a “game show” with four contestants who are subjected to hypnosis before facing quizzes and challenges as a team. The premise supposedly illustrates hypnotism is real: why would you go on TV to lose money on purpose? But the execution rewards them, regardless.

Irish-born hypnotist Keith Barry, who appeared in the UK series, joins host Daryl Somers. The staging has the feel of a theatrical production rather than being conceived for television. It includes an LED backdrop which, whilst it may read better in a theatre environment, doesn’t look great in TV close-up.

The participants are all hypnotised by Barry prior to the show and ready to fall asleep at the snap of his fingers, on stage. I can’t work out why they seem to collapse above the hips, but never fall to the floor. As we are also told later we can’t watch the full hypnosis process in case we fall under the spell at home. Seriously…

“How do you answer the skeptic?” Somers asks Barry, also telling him “A lot of people writing in.” Huh? Before the show has even aired?

He also meets them backstage to glean their backstories, before the craziness begins. The first round, a music quiz, will be jeopardised by Barry giving the 4 their first deceits: one is told he is Elvis, another has a crush on Daryl, etc.

The challenge sums up where this show starts and stops: four contestants suddenly behave like goons to the apparent-hysteria of the audience, as the host tries to steer the game play. There is relentless upstaging (although surprisingly, very little of the 4 speaking over one another -why is that?). Shots of the audience in stitches are matched by heavy laughter, that smells of ‘sweetening.’

There are five lightweight challenges that rinse and repeat the first, such as painting a masterpiece while under the spell.

Two rounds involve celebrities (Derryn Hinch, Tegan Martin, Gamble Breaux and Matt Witkowski) as unhypnotised victims. The team’s cash pot builds without much resistance or questions that would justify $200 on Hot Seat. But there is no attempt to instil a rising degree of difficulty.

As this drags out to over an hour -30 minutes would have been plenty- I find the contestants to be annoying and I wish the audience would stop encouraging it all (I suspect they have been cleverly edited).

Daryl Somers works hard with this ludicrous concept, drawing upon his skills for spontaneity as random behaviour breaks out across the night. But this is no Dancing with the Stars and won’t aid any return of Hey Hey.

After Australia’s Got Talent and The Farmer Wants a Wife Nine’s output from FremantleMedia has not been successful this year. No two ways about it – You’re Back in the Room is the weakest of the three.

It’s too long and lacks authenticity.

Hypnosis may not be mind-control TV but it sure is mind-numbing TV.

You’re Back in the Room airs 7pm Sunday on Nine.

32 Responses

  1. This will be the third show Nine have tried to launch agaisnt MKR on a sunday night. You could be forgiven for burning costly content off against MKR once, twice maybe, three times, moronic! There will be tears before bedtime at Nine HQ on monday..

  2. David, a superb, insightful and smart review of a show that smacks of bottom of the barrel from a network – and a veteran star – who should know much better. I can smell the stench of this disaster already.

  3. This review was fantastic David – thoroughly enjoyed it. I love that you haven’t held back.
    Surely this format would work better as a touring live show (with minor celebrity contestants) rather than a prime time TV series?

  4. Agree with the comments saying this belongs back in the 70s at Dapto Workers’ Club or on some dodgy Cruise Ship.
    Looks and sounds absolutely moronic.
    I guess young kids may find it amusing in the same way as Funniest Home Videos..

  5. I’m not even going to watch to find out who the three “celebrities” are after Derryn Hinch, never heard of them. I guess with a show as bad as this, real celebrities would be hard to wrangle.
    I bet Nine are hoping the Gogglebox families are not going to watch and scathe this show, even if it does mean an extra 10 households watching.

  6. Good, honest review. I was never going to watch this garbage anyway as it’s completely bogus and the style and staging do not appeal to me at all. If I wish to see strangers making fools of themselves I can jump onto Youtube (altho’ I usually get distracted by cat videos…).

    The UK version was mostly savaged by critics but didn’t rate too badly. The first series of 4 shows averaged about 4 million, which equates to a bit over 900,000 OzTAM 5 City Metro. Mind you, the series average for last year’s Britain’s Got Talent was nearly 10 million, so if this rates 40% of our biggest-rating show (~500,000), Nine are in trouble.

    I think that some will turn in out of curiosity / schadenfreude but that the minute-by-minute ratings will show a steady drop-off as people reach their limit. MKR will smash it and I wouldn’t be surprised if the second ep of Modern Family gives it a run for…

  7. I was going to give this a crack… But the influence you exude over me via your reviews David, has turned me right off even tuning in for 5 minutes.
    I think subconsciously I knew it would be awful, but you’ve confirmed my fears in this terrific review. Thanks for saving me an hour of TV I’ll never get back!

  8. Nine no doubt learned their lesson about showing the hypnotism process after breaching the ACMA code in 2009 on A Current Affair. It’s amazing that someone has a job that involves saying yes to Daryl Somers and Hypnotism and Renew 20 to 1. It’s like Netflix doesn’t exist!

  9. Yes David I couldn’t agree more! I was in the studio audience in Jan and it went on for an excessive amount of time! 6 segments! Usually the one with the celebrity would be the final but they had two with them! Half of the audience had left by the fifth segment and not because of the length of time, simply because seeing the ‘hypnotised’ talk to the director during the breaks made many question the authenticity of the hypnotism and made many including myself think that they were actors. Honestly I can see this moving to after the footy show late on a Weds night.

  10. Roasted. I didn’t want to write another comment writing off another show, but I’m going to have to. I think Australia is crying out for a variety show, but not hypnosis and stupid games. I think I will much prefer the review of You’re Back in the Room on Gogglebox (I’m sure they will have it on the show)!

  11. I managed to see a sneek peak (or advertisement as I call them). I found the advert excruciating to watch with one bloke smashing his face into the cake icing (or cream) repeatedly, which made me feel the joke was being milked too often. Thanks for the review.

  12. This reminds me of the Dapto Workers’ Club circa. 1970. Marvelous what selective editing and canned laughter can achieve these days, like using that audience shot from 30 minutes ago repeatedly.

  13. Good review, thanks. I had no intention of watching it, but found your review interesting. Like yourself, hypnosis and magic is lost on me because I cannot suspend me credulity – I also don’t believe what I am seeing. This makes it very hard to invest time in such programs, so I don’t. I suspect this will be as big a turkey as Reno Rumble. Nine is so off the boil this year, it is almost tragic. What an embarrassing run of outs they have had so far. Reno Rumble (mega ouchies), the execrable Farmer Wants a Wife and the totally unnecessary Australia’s Got Talent. Who the hell is greenlighting this stale trash?????

  14. I like a good hypnotist act, but only in small doses. If they want to gainfully employ Daryl for something that is genuinely entertaining on a long-term basis, why on earth don’t they bring back Red Faces as it’s own show instead of futzing around with this crap? Maybe they’re afraid it will be so popular it will eclipse the likes of Australia’s Got Talent.

    1. People who have too much time on their hands and care about things no-one else does. Ever read the TV Guide letters? Every week there’s people writing in to complain about shows not starting on time.

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