Don’t mock old moonface

Dominic Knight takes a look at Australian television’s night of nights, the Maybelline TV Week Logie Awards, and finds only one shining star. Or, perhaps more accurately, he find only one shining moon.

After last Sunday’s monster Logies celebrating 50 years of Australian television, with five hosts and endless packages of classic shows, you could be forgiven for thinking the only really outstanding thing to happen in half a century was Bert Newton.
The hosting quintet represented Gold Logie winners from each decade, but all that served to prove was how much things have gone downhill post-Bert.
Georgie Parker and Lisa McCune were likeable but hardly used, while Daryl Somers was characteristically awkward. Most unfortunate of all, though, was Ray Martin, who promised to cross live to Beaconsfield if the miners came out. By the time he’d finished his pompous speech, most of the audience would rather have been down there with them.
Newton, by contrast, was in his element with an opening monologue that displayed his remarkable skills. He effortlessly switched gears from a riff on this year’s favourite joke, Jessica Rowe, to a touching tribute to Richard Carleton, who had died just hours before.
More remarkable still was Newton’s homage to his old colleague Graham Kennedy, where he sang alongside footage of the late King. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Because television was originally live by necessity, older personalities such as Kennedy and Newton learned to appear completely comfortable when improvising, a skill none of their successors has mastered. Newton is a world away from the inane patter of Idol’s Andrew G and James Matheson. It would be a blessing to us all if he hosted the Logies every year.
Certainly, he is wasted on Family Feud. Nine should put him at the helm of a genuine variety show where he can crack jokes and muck around with guests. We haven’t too many years left to enjoy the finest performer in the history of Australian television, so please, let’s have a format that allows him to shine. It would make Rove Live look dead by comparison.
The 50th-anniversary Logies provided an apt summary of the half-century of Australian television: an ill-conceived hotchpotch with only a few moments of genuine class. Largely thanks to Bert.
Dominic Knight
PHOTO: He’s the man … no one can hold a candle to Bert.

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