EXCLUSIVE: Never one to mince his words, outspoken host Darren McMullen is pretty blunt about why he left The Voice.
“I couldn’t watch any more kids getting their heart broken because they thought their dreams were over. It’s not the kind of television I watch,” he admits.
“I didn’t watch The Voice. I hosted The Voice, but I didn’t watch it.
“I don’t really like watching myself on television so maybe that’s why I didn’t watch it. Maybe a lot of other Australians didn’t like watching me on television either!”
McMullen hosted Nine’s reality series for four seasons. He now fronts Seven’s new entertainment series The Big Music Quiz.
“Every show you turn on now has this fake drama. Especially when you’ve worked on it, you understand what the producers have done to get to that point. And it’s crap. I want to do real stuff,” he says.
“This is real. This is eight people in a room having a laugh talking about music, dancing around and having fun. It’s just a fun, nice family show and we don’t add any nonsense.”
“I did pass on House Husbands almost instantly”
LA-based McMullen was offered The Big Music Quiz shortly after finishing with Nine, where he had also appeared on House Husbands. At the time he had his heart set on US work.
“They wanted me to continue on actually. We met with the producers and (Nine exec) Michael Healy after we wrapped and they said ‘Look we really want you to come back. We want to expand your role within House Husbands. We want to make you a big part of this season,’ and I said ‘My only concern is it’s four months away from home. I’m away from my girlfriend, away from L.A., away from my dog and it might be tough.’
“I’d just signed with CAA in America and they said ‘We’ll get you a show easily. You just need to be here during pilot season.’
“So I did pass on House Husbands almost instantly and then it took it took a couple of months with The Voice. It was a hard decision to make.
“I just knew it was time to move on because I wasn’t getting the butterflies anymore. I wasn’t scared of doing The Voice and I think there’s no more disastrous place to be as a human being than in your comfort zone. You don’t grow, especially as an Entertainer. I needed to. I needed to scare the shit out of myself again.”
“I was absolutely petrified.”
The Big Music Quiz is based on a French format featuring 8 celebrities battling in a series of music trivia challenges, in front of a pumped-up studio audience. Seven has attracted plenty of profile names including Rebel Wilson, Kate Ceberano, Joel Creasey, Andrew O’Keefe, Manu Feildel, Bindi Irwin, Miranda Tapsell, Dami Im, Denise Scott, Lawrence Mooney, Larry Emdur, Matthew Mitcham, Jackie O, Adam Garcia and more.
McMullen is given more room to play than the tight format of The Voice.
“That first day walking on set I thought, ‘Shit can I do this again?’ I’ve been playing traffic cop for so long I forgot how to be wacky and crazy and fun and be myself on camera. There wasn’t really a lot of time to do that on The Voice. It’s very regimented. So I was absolutely petrified. But that’s good. This is what I wanted. I’m growing and it’s been fantastic,” he continues.
“It’s a fun, irreverent music quiz show where the audience at home and in the studio are as much a part of the show as the celebrity guests on it. I think it’s come at the right time, it’s a timely show. There’s no nonsense, there’s no fakery about it, there’s no added drama. It is what it is -a good family fun energetic show.”
“I don’t tend to focus on negatives or fear.”
Indeed the studio audience energy is a big part of the show, frequently on their feet and dancing to the music and celebrating the ‘play along’ aspect to the format. But will it translate through the screen? McMullen remains optimistic.
“Am I worried that this won’t? No. I don’t tend to focus on negatives or fear. I’m going to do the best performance I can possibly do. We’re all having a fantastic time making this and you really want Australia to identify with it and love the show. If you don’t it would be sad, but I’m not going to give that thought any weight until that happens. It’s pointless.”
The Big Music Quiz is produced by Endemol Shine Australia which, as it happens, produced his seasons of The Voice.
So is he really standing by his comments on his former show, given the obvious link?
Allow him to qualify….
“Shine really believed in me which was fantastic and Michael Healy did as well and I hope I didn’t disappoint. I would love to see them give other people that opportunity going forward,” he adds.
“I didn’t watch The Voice and it isn’t really my kind of television, but that’s ok I don’t think I’m the demographic they’re after anyway. That’s all I was saying. I think it’s a fantastic show and I think Australians love it for a reason. There’s a great aspect to that show. The fact that they are giving people the opportunity to be heard.
“I really have no ill feeling towards that show and I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for that show.”
The Big Music Quiz premieres 7pm Sunday on Seven.