EXCLUSIVE: Veteran TV host Johnny Young believes Young Talent Time deserves the title of Australia’s longest running variety program, a title which arguably lays with Hey Hey it’s Saturday.
“Daryl claims that Hey Hey was the longest running variety program. It wasn’t because halfway through his run on Channel Nine, he left and went to Channel 10. So he never had the run… we were on air for 18 years,” he tells TV Tonight.
Hey Hey it’s Saturday ran for 29 seasons starting from 1971 – 1977, then 1979 – 1999, plus revivals in 2009 – 2010. It will mark its 50th anniversary in October, which YTT has coincidentally just celebrated. Alas for Young, even Hey Hey‘s 1979-99 run it outstrips YTT by two years.
“I say this with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek… (because) Daryl and I, the morning after the Logies, always used to go and have lunch in Kew. We both lived near each other. We were mates,” Young insists.
“He was on Saturday mornings but they nearly got the arse because they weren’t going anywhere. They put them up against Young Talent Time and it killed us. The kids liked the duck. John Farnham got Whispering Jack and it took them nearly two years to kill us. But it killed us.”
Young also said 10’s YTT revival failed because producers didn’t understand the show’s true appeal.
“They hired a production company full of producers from England, who had no idea what Young Talent Time was about. They thought it was a teen program and it wasn’t. It was for young kids and old people.”
10 CEO Lachlan Murdoch announced the revival when he was CEO in 2012 with host Rob Mills.
“They tried to make it to be like Glee. They paid me a lot of money. The first episode got 1.7 million, which was great because it had lots of nostalgia in it,” Young insists.
“But the Murdochs said, ‘We want Glee.’ They just got it all wrong. They thought it was too hokey.”
It’s a view that Rob Mills agrees with.
“What happens when they do that is they take away the heart from it all. The kids were fantastic. I really enjoyed mentoring the kids,” Mills also tells TV Tonight.
“Glee is not what Young Talent Time is all about. But it’s still a fond memory. I still catch up with the kids and I’d love to mentor some others.”
Young Talent Time 50th Anniversary Reunion is streaming at Epicentre TV