Hopefully the Aussies won’t follow Shane’s nervous start
Whether on the cricket field or at the poker table, Shane Warne has never been short of swagger. But last night, in the debut of his chat show “Warnie”, his customary strut was largely missing.
That’s not being harsh. Warne himself admitted “I’ve never been as nervous” at the start of the show. Then at the end, in an out-of-character plea for approval, he asked the studio audience “Did you all enjoy it? Did you have fun?”
For the record, there was indeed fun and enjoyment to be had. But only in patches. The Sheik Of Tweak didn’t reek. But he wasn’t brilliant, either. Let’s break down a few of the main segments in no particular order.
THE JAMES PACKER INTERVIEW
A fantastic “get”, not least because Packer is a Channel Ten man nowadays, but also, of course, because Packer rarely does sit-down interviews. But overall, it was way too much of a love-in.
When asked why he came on the show, Packer gushed: “When you asked, how could someone say no?”
Later, after Warne told James that a generation of cricketers owes everything to his Dad Kerry, the younger Packer replied: “A few times I’ve wished I was you. We all wish we were you”.
Let’s face it. This was never going to be a grilling on the folly of Packer’s failed Macau casino venture. Still, they might have toned down the mutual admiration, oh, about 100 notches or so. Next time fellas, just get a room.
THE CHRIS MARTIN INTERVIEW
The Coldplay kingpin is one unnervingly weird cat. “I don’t like the part of my brain that likes cricket” he confusingly said. “I mean, I like cricket but I don’t like that I like it,” he unhelpfully added.
Warnie didn’t quite know what to make of all that, so he changed tack and told Martin that all he really wanted to do as a kid was play AFL.
“So your life was a failure,” Martin shot back. Line of the night and laugh of the night.
THE MERV HUGHES INTERVIEW
By this stage, Warnie had Nine news reader Alicia Gorey alongside him for moral support. One of them should have asked Hughes how he felt about being dumped as a national cricket selector. After all, Hughes said he was “rissoled” by the national selection panel. What, precisely, did he mean?
This review on the Herald Sun website excused Warnie for his lack of hard questions, arguing that Michael Parkinson never roughed up his guests. Doesn’t wash. Someone should’ve asked Merv why he was so peeved at his axeing. It would have made great telly. Even The Footy Show (both the NRL and AFL versions) do hard interviews with the alcoholic idiot of the week.
THE OTHER BITS
Speaking of The Footy show, there were moments during “Warnie” when you’d swear it had arrived four months early. The extra bits of content, which included unfunny puppet sketches, unfunny crosses to David “Bumble” Lloyd in an English pub and that tired old Footy Show standard – the street vox pop – were all pretty poor.
We, the viewers, wanted more Warnie, not more televisual spakfilla.
And the Warnie we wanted is the Warnie who trusts his sheer force of personality and runs with it. No doubt Warne can do the TV chat show thing as naturally and entertainingly as he does TV cricket commentary. But he needs to shelve the ancillary crap and pretend his guest is a batsman. Then approach his guest with a plan, but adapt if necessary.
The great British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen once said: “Have a script, but be ready to improvise. In fact, expect to improvise.”
Warne played cricket like that. If he plays his TV career the same way, his show will become must see TV. He’d better get it right quick, though, as next week’s guests Dannii Minogue and Sting are nowhere near as tantalising as this week’s.
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