“Young Talent Time was like family to me!”
She may never have joined Young Talent Time but hosting a 50th anniversary special is the next best thing for Toni Pearen.
This Sunday night is a dream come true for Toni Pearen… almost.
As host of Young Talent Time: Unmasked, it marks the next best thing to an unfulfilled childhood dream.
“If you had have told my 12 year old self, ‘One day you will be hosting the Young Talent Time special on Channel 10″, I just wouldn’t have believed it,” she tells TV Tonight.
“All my childhood, all my teen years, it wasn’t just a dream. Young Talent Time was like family to me. Everything was based on my Saturday night. I would record it Saturday nights, so I could rewatch it on Sunday. I’d watch my favourite songs and learn them. It was seriously an obsession!
“I still have the Christmas card Dannii Minogue wrote to me in 1984”
“I still have the Christmas card Dannii Minogue wrote to me in 1984 It’s seriously one of my prized possessions. I remember receiving it that Christmas. It made all my Christmases! I still have it to this day!”
The special marks 50 years since Young Talent Time hit Australian television screens with names such as Jamie Redfern, Debbie Byrne, Phillip Gould, Jane Scali, Rod Kirkham and Vikki Broughton.
It would run on 10 until 1988 with famed faces including Tina Arena, Karen Knowles, Dannii Minogue, John Bowles, Sally Boyden, Joey Perrone, Beven Addinsall, Mark Stevens, Vince Del Tito, Steven Zammit, Greg Mills and Katie Van Ree (the show was later revived with host Rob Mills).
The special sees Tina Arena and Dannii Minogue reunite -both were only together on YTT across two years (Tina: 1977–83; Dannii: 1982–88).
Pearen even admits to a moment of ‘fan-girling’ after the stars responded to a social media post from her.
“Toni you’ve really got to calm down and be cool about this!”
“Tina Arena commented on a post that I’m hosting the show. She responded saying, ‘Gorgeous woman to host his show!’ or something and I squealed. My husband said, ‘Toni you’ve really got to calm down and be cool about this!’ she laughs.
“But these people were so important to my life growing up.”
While Pearen never got to join YTT, or even a Johnny Young Talent School, she did train and forge her own showbiz career with E Street, Home and Away, Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show, All Men Are Liars and pop hits In Your Room, I Want You and Walkaway Lover.
“I ended up at a talent school called the Keane Kids, which is not dissimilar to Young Talent Time. It just didn’t have a national television show!” she continues.
“My parents refused to move to Melbourne. I probably asked them every day, to move to Melbourne so I could join the Young Talent Time team.”
“I’m hosting and linking all of the footage and interviews”
Sunday’s special also features other exclusive interviews as well as archival footage and a recent reunion which took place prior to current lockdowns.
“I’m hosting and linking all of the footage and interviews and so really I’m just a big fan, talking about what it meant to me, reminiscing about the fashion, the dance routines, the locations they went to, the cast,” Pearen explains.
“Because of the pandemic, with restrictions and borders, I’m sure it’s not what they originally envisaged. But miraculously, they have pulled it all together.”
Pearen readily admits after such a long wait she’s happy to be along for the ride however possible.
“Young Talent Time was obviously the dream. I never got there, but now here I am!”
Young Talent Time: Unmasked 8:40pm Sunday on 10.