When Spicks & Specks returns for a 10 part season on Sunday -its first since 2011- it will include rising stars of music alongside seasoned performers.
While that may be nothing new for the much-loved ABC series, their faces will be new to the panel show.
Adam Hills hosted a 2018 reunion and three 2019 specials for AusMusic Week. But he enjoyed them so much that he happily ‘put the band back together’ (albeit via producers) for an all new season.
“When we made the specials, the one that was most enjoyable for me was the “2010s” special. It was a decade of music that we’d never covered before,” he tells TV Tonight.
“In a way we needed the music industry to go away and refresh itself. Now we’ve got a whole bunch of new artists like Alice Skye, Isaiah Firebrace -all these great new Australian artists. There’s a whole bunch of new music to talk about, whether it’s Billy Eilish or Cardi B.
“People like Alice Skye grew up watching Spicks & Specks”
“People like Alice Skye grew up watching Spicks & Specks. Whereas before we were getting musos coming on who might be a little bit awkward about being on a panel show, now you’ve got people like Alice Skye or G Flip, who know how to be on Spicks & Specks. Alice Skye knew how to do Substitute because she used to sing it with her friends when she was a kid!”
Hills also nominates indigenous performer Mitch Tambo & Scott Darlow amongst his new favourites, but welcomes new comedians to the show too.
“People like Dilruk or Nazeem Hussain, Luke McGregor. What was always fun for us about Spicks & Specks was that combination of old favourites and discovering new people.
“…proper punk, two and a half minutes of sweary, in-your-face music!”
“One of the new Australian bands that I’ve really loved in the last few years is called Amyl and the Sniffers.. proper punk, two and a half minutes of sweary, in-your-face music! Amy, who is the lead singer, sat next to Denise Scott and the two of them together, kind of sums up what Spicks & Specks was always about. It was such a love affair between the two of them, and in that same episode, we ended up talking about medieval nuns and their musical and sexual habits. Only an episode of Spicks & Specks can cover all of that!”
Returning once more are team captains Myf Warhurst and Alan (manbun) Brough while guests will also include The Teskey Brothers, Vika and Linda, Missy Higgins, Brian Mannix, Anne Edmonds, Nazeem Hussain, and Dave O’Neil.
With the Tokyo Paralympics cancelled, Hills had enough room in his diary for the show to proceed (he endured 4 lockdowns + 2 quarantines across 2020 / 21), but the show had to factor in all kinds of COVID restrictions that impacted on shooting, casting and even the various parlour games.
“We had less games for the first person to buzz in. There were more games when you could have a discussion with your teammate, and it didn’t matter if the other team overheard you,” he continues.
“We had to have individual buzzers for each guests, we had to have them a metre and a half apart. But the set designers came up with a curved panel so when you look straight on, it looks a bit closer than they actually are.
“We had masks up until filming, a COVID officer, and we couldn’t get anyone from interstate. We had Vika & Linda singing, but they weren’t allowed to look at each other when they sang! I had to sanitise my hands when I passed them the books for Substitute!
“We were also trying to make a more Sunday-friendly show”
“But we were also trying to make a more Sunday-friendly show. So with a bit more time, we could have a few more breakout moments and physical bits and pieces in the studio.
“Anyone that’s managed to make a TV show in the last 12 months deserves a medal for the amount of hurdles that you’ve got jump.”
But the show will try to avoid referencing COVID, given it is an entertainment diversion.
“What won’t come across is that the live music that was played was the first time any of us had seen live music in about six months! And the first time any of those bands and performers had played live music in about six months,” he explains.
“It really affected us all”
“So it was really viscerally quite overwhelming to see someone like the Teskey Brothers sing live in a studio. It really affected us all. At the end of the day, if all those 10 episodes achieve is that have managed to get a few comedians and musicians out of the house and help them earn a little bit of money during a lockdown then it will have been worth it!”
Spicks & Specks returns 7:40pm Sunday on ABC.