Live, dangerous and ready to prove a point.

Rove McManus is a big believer audiences want a Live variety show -and Pilot Week is his chance.

Bring Back… Saturday Night is the only contender in TEN’s Pilot Week that will be fully Live to Air.

But that suits host Rove McManus just fine. He has a career carved out from Live television whether at Channel 31, Nine or TEN, with three Gold Logie Awards to boot.

Yet that brings some unusual challenges for McManus and his production team, based in both Sydney & Melbourne.

“I haven’t done 100% Live in a long time, apart from doing The Project,” he tells TV Tonight.

“I don’t know if I’m meant to be telling you this but I will. We don’t have access to our studio until 2 o’clock in afternoon, on the day of the show!

“But I like a challenge!  I like the fact that this embodies everything about Pilot Week: ‘Let’s just throw it out there and see what happens!’”

“I like the idea of being free-standing, I’m more of a ringmaster.”

The one hour show will be staged in TEN’s Pyrmont studio with a small audience. But while it does include traditional elements including a band, comedy act, sketches, interview guest and live crosses, some of them will be turned on their head.

“There is no desk, so I wouldn’t label it a Talk show,” he explains.

“I like the idea of being free-standing, I’m more of a ringmaster. I remember The Big Gig had a party atmosphere, which was mid-week, but it was like you’re going out to watch a band or a stand-up performance.

“But how we are going to be doing it is hopefully different. We also have a lot of new faces that are involved, in terms of contributors, including a young performer named Alex Jae who has never done television before. I think she’s a fabulous talent.

“There are also established acts and names, but in a way that they haven’t been used before.”

Confirmed appearances include Delta Goodrem, Miranda Tapsell, Conrad Sewell, Judith Lucy, Mel Buttle, Alex Lee and Tom Gleeson.

McManus also makes no bones about the fact that he is dead-keen to have a variety show on television. Pilot Week is his window of opportunity to prove he is not alone -and is he acutely aware of the audience footprint TEN usually attracts on Saturdays.

“The idea that I’ve been pushing so hard for so long is that people want a show like this. They want an entertainment program and when you look at where that could be done, the one night of the week that is being neglected is Saturday,” he continues.

“So hopefully there’s enough people out there who agree and want to watch it.

“Is it because there’s not a viable option other than Sport or Drama on the ABC?”

“But if you look at the numbers on Saturday night they are so drastically below what everybody else does. It’s hard to know is that because Saturday is one of those nights when people do go out to parties? Or is it because there’s not a viable option other than Sport or Drama on the ABC?

“There is an older audience at home sitting on the couch, probably over 40 with kids, and Saturday night is probably the night to finally put your feet up and take it easy.

“At the same time there is also younger audience that might be headed out, but not till later.

“As much as people think of shows like Hey Hey it’s Saturday as the yardstick of a legacy program -and that’s very true- I’m also of a generation that would stay home to watch The D-Generation’s Late Show and then go out.”

McManus hopes to marry the two audiences with an ‘old meets new’ approach as well as providing a “wrap party” feel to Pilot Week itself.

After that the decision is in the hands of the audience and network execs, just as TV always is.

“Normally for a Pilot process you make it, a bunch of executives will sit in a board room somewhere and decide if it lives or dies.

“But with this thing if the boat goes down we’ll all be holding hands together!”

Bring Back… Saturday Night airs 7:30pm Saturday on TEN.

26 Responses

  1. I found it really hard to get into…i think Judith Lucy should have been at a desk off to the side, or at least have a camera cut to her – having Rove just stand there gawking at the camera while she spoke was weird.

    The wedding crasher with Merrick – that was cringey (especially when the mum of the bride or a relative was like “what the f*** is going on”), a lot of awkward silences, and as much as people might say you shouldn’t, I’d take back Hey Hey It’s Saturday any day – the show just moved along at a clip, the music was good, John Blackman’s interjections were short but funny.

  2. Well it was shouty and people takled in high pitched voices all the time to the point of irritation.

    Judith Lucy’s sarcastic whining voiceovers were a lowlight as was the Miranda Tapsall awkward “chat”.

    It was like watching the worst bits of The Project and Hey Hey. Hope it never sees the light of night again.

    1. Yeah it was pretty bad, even Tom Gleeson’s segment was not funny, comparing to his Abc stuff, i loled at ‘Go Away’ on the Weekly & of course Hard Chat.

    1. Because it was better than that…not just a sit down talk show…full of celebs…ordinary folk also…Loved all the variations…Loved the whole thing.
      .. ⭐???

  3. Personally not a Rove fan, i only used to watch his show for the guests, but will give this a go. However if it has as many ad breaks in it as shows like the Project do now i wouldn’t bother watching again. If it does, i could timeshift it but feel that somewhat defeats the purpose of watching a live entertainment show.

  4. I am from UK and was used to having Saturday nights as being the best light entertainment viewing of the week. I still don’t understand why all Australian broadcasters think Friday and Saturday is not worth showing anything worthwhile. I don’t believe the whole population goes out, and not everyone likes AFL or NRL. I’m a bit confused with the premise of this show but i’ll watch it anyway. It would be ideal for 7.00-8.30 slot. i wish they’d stop showing repeats of 3-4 eps of reality shows on Saturday nights as well.

    1. Agree but i think most of the problem is since we have a small population quite a large chunk of it will watch Afl/Nrl on Sat nights & other networks don’t want to put the $ into making something to compete with them .

      It worked 30 years ago with Hey Hey Its Saturday on sat nights but a few things have changed since then, more competition from pay tv & from what i remember the top rating footy was on sat arvo not nights.

    1. For what will likely be a short 2-3 minute segment, if not shorter, it is important to support the Australian tv industry and not boycott because of 1 person.

      We have all been screaming out for variety, instead of over extended multiple episodes a week of unreal reality garbage so here is our chance to support free tv, cos if we do not, there will be very little on offer for free in coming years

      1. So agree…. ??….I have watched all pilot shows …all the way through…except Skithouse… A lot of people have done a lot of work to make these things happen…We want more on TV than reality….and here are people trying to give us that…At least give these programs the courtesy of watching them…in full ..before offering comments/criticisms…

    2. I really can’t stand her either.. the main reason I don’t watch the Voice! that and it’s a scam interested in furthering the Judges careers over the contestants.

  5. 1hr is probably not enough, barely enough time to find its feet, this whole Pilot week has been a giant failure, heavily promoted but the content just isn’t there

    1. I agree with you on both counts:
      *90 minutes would be a more suitable length
      *Ten have put all their effort into promoting Bachelor and Survivor, with almost no resources left for the Pilot Week shows

      1. Come on, we all know how TV works now, even shows filmed 4 months ago and edited down that are scheduled for 60 mins run for at least 70mins. So like I’m a celeb, I’m expecting this to run for at least 70mins regardless of current EPG saying 60 min.

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