Manu Feildel doesn’t quite get why people keep asking about his surprise move to judge Australia’s Got Talent.
The My Kitchen Rules chef studied circus skills for 3 years. But 3 decades later does that qualify him to judge dancers, comedians, acrobats, illusionists and knife throwers?
“A lot of people have asked me that question …and I say why not?” he told TV Tonight.
“I was really chuffed Channel Seven would consider me for the role.
“It doesn’t bother me, but I don’t understand why they’re asking the question. I get both ‘Oh my god, that’s amazing’ or ‘Why you?’ But my reply is why not?
“I’m a chef by trade, which I’ve done for 30 years but I’ve also done TV for 15.
“I thought it would be a great chance for me and fun to do. It’s worked out well.”
Joining him are former Pussycat Dolls Nicole Scherzinger, performer Lucy Durack and actor Shane Jacobson. Singer Ricki-Lee steps in as host in the revived Seven series.
The team have filmed all Heats with Semi Finals and a Grand Final still to be completed. Happily holding his own on the judging panel, Feildel brushes aside questions about whether direct experience counts.
“A food critic has no experience in running a restaurant, cooked or carried a plate in a restaurant. What’s their background? How can they judge restaurants? A lot of actors in America write cookbooks and I find that funny,” he suggests.
“I think we’re allowed to do what we want to be doing. You could be doing what I’ve done on AGT, I suppose, but people know me more than they know you, which is probably why I got the job.”
Since the series last aired on Nine (and Seven before that) there have been limited opportunities for variety-style acts to be seen on television, but the Got Talent brand has rolled on internationally. The absence means Seven is tapping into a re-energised pool of acts.
Filmed in Sydney and Melbourne with Live audiences, the contestants push the showbiz envelope, including some illusionists in death-defying stunts. In true vaudevillian style, that’s left some audiences reeling as to whether they are witnessing an act go terribly wrong – including for former Bachelor hunk Apollo Jackson.
“Apollo was hanging upside down in a straight-jacket, doused with (flammable liquid), and he’s lit on fire while trying to escape. His hand was on fire while he’s getting the key. I could see him trying to stop the flames on his arm, but if he didn’t let himself get burnt he would not get the key,” he explains.
“It was absolutely crazy!
“Another guy swallows a sword upside down on a pole from the top of the theatre and slides down, with the sword in his mouth. He stops a couple of inches from the floor.
“I know he may have done it millions of times, but you just never know.
“These people are risking their lives for entertainment.”
Australia’s Got Talent airs 7pm Sunday & 7:30pm Monday on Seven.