Holey Moley has managed to do what few Australian shows have done: coming home as a bonafide US hit.
“It’s an Aussie idea from Chris Culvenor and Paul Franklin at Eureka, sold to America’s ABC network, rated through the roof and then it has been renewed,” Seven’s Head of Production Andrew Backwell confirms.
“That’s competing against every big international production company. So a real credit to the guys,” he explains. “Now it’s coming here, so that hasn’t happened very often.”
The format has also gone on to win at both Real Screen and C21 Awards, and nominations at Rose D’Or and Television Critics’ Association.
Seven has had to wait to get the show to screen after for late 2020 were shelved when COVID restrictions hit production on the US set.
“Three days into the shoot COVID hit really badly. We had to get our whole team back to Australia. It was really disappointing because in another five days or six days, the whole thing would have been in the can.
“Seven put a big chunk of money towards a course just outside of Brisbane. We’ve got a number of big territories that want to come in and use our set.
“I think the set actually looks better than the US one.”
Some 48 mini golf players will take to colourful holes named Dutch Courage, Dragon’s Breath, Putter Ducky, Frankenputt and even Uranus in their quest to win $100,000. But they will be challenged by fire, windmills, swinging birds, electricity and celebrity cameos hoping to distract their game.
Commentating is wry US comedian Rob Riggle (The Hangover, Step Brothers, Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart) joined by Aussie Olympian / broadcaster Matt Shirvington.
“I can’t imagine the show without Rob. He was key in the American show and also key in our series. He gets the tone of the show, he has very broad appeal.”
Sonia Kruger, who was originally announced as host before dropping out for Big Brother duties, is reinstated as host, with Greg Norman as Resident Golf Pro in studio segments.
“When we were in the US, he was coming to the set, but with COVID it wasn’t feasible for us to bring him. In the US show they had Steph Curry in a similar role,” he continues.
“Sonia was available because the shooting dates changed. I think she’s one of the biggest stars we’ve got, so that was a no brainer to put her in.
“It’s got really broad appeal. There’s a lot in there for kids so I think parents will watch it. There’s nothing too edgy that you couldn’t watch as a family, that’s what we’ve got going for us. Originally, it was built to go up against MAFS as an alternative. It’s not appropriate for kids to watch Married at First Sight, so we thought we’d target them.”
Seven has also produced a Celebrity special and a Kids special (the kids hit the golf balls, but a parent undertakes the challenge), with both due to run at series’ conclusion.
Holey Moley also drew headlines following an accident for Denise Drysdale, who incurred a fractured shoulder, but the veteran showbiz star will still feature in the show.
“She was taking a putt in between the gameplay and she just tripped over a little mound on the playing field on the green, and landed on her shoulder.
“I think there were a few injuries along the way. Not many, but when you see it, the obstacles are quite big. So yes, there were a few injuries on the way but nothing out of the ordinary compared to the US show. Obviously there’s also a bunch of safety officers.
He adds, “I wouldn’t do some of those obstacles. No way!”
Thankfully Seven leaves that to the experts, from part-time enthusiasts to pro-golfers.
“All the contestants have played mini golf before. Some are professionals and some amateur golfers …but they’re all golfers,” he observes.
“We’re proud to have it at Seven.”
Holey Moley 7:30pm Monday – Wednesday on Seven.