‘Thank God a new generation is here!’: Aussie favourite returns to TV

‘Thank God a new generation is here!’: Aussie favourite returns to TV

Fourteen years since it last aired on Australian TV, and 16 years since its original run on Network 10, noughties improv favourite Thank God You’re Here is making a big return.

The series is being revived by Network 10, with a new season coming later this year hosted by comedian Celia Pacquola. The show will follow the same premise as the original – with different guests each episode asked to walk through a big blue door, and left to hold their own in unexpected scenes with a regular comedy ensemble – but will feature new comedians and new judges too.

Judge Tom Gleisner and host Shane Bourne from Network 10’s original Thank God You’re Here.Credit:Network 10

“Thank God a new generation is here!” said Michael Hirsh of Working Dog, the production company that created the show (as well as more recent series including Have You Been Paying Attention and The Cheap Seats).

“We loved making Thank God You’re Here … and feel the time is right for a new bunch of comedians to go through the blue door. We can’t wait to see this new crop of funny people bullshit their way out of sticky situations.”

Regular guests on the original series included Angus Sampson, Josh Lawson and Hamish Blake. Credit:Network 10

In announcing the revival, Daniel Monaghan, senior vice president of content and programming at Paramount ANZ, also emphasised the effect the series could have on platforming a new generation of comedians and said the show “holds a special place in our hearts at Network 10”.

“It was one of the most talked about shows on Australian television and was responsible for launching and celebrating a wealth of intelligent, lively and hilarious Australian talent.”

In fact, the original series – which ran on Network 10 from 2006-2007 and for one more season on Channel 7 in 2009 – was one of the most popular Australian comedies on television at the time, with ratings that rivalled the likes of Australian Idol.

International versions of the Logie Award-winning show were produced in other countries including the US, Russia and China. And, at home, the show has been widely credited with familiarising audiences with many comedians who are now household names.

Ed Kavalee, who is now a popular radio presenter and a regular on HYBPA, got his start as a member of the ensemble cast and quickly became an audience favourite. In an interview reflecting on the show’s legacy, Kavalee said his only showbiz experience up to that point “was being an usher for Puppetry of the Penis”.

Some of the most frequent guests included Angus Sampson, Hamish Blake, and Josh Lawson – all of whom were in their mid-twenties at the time and only just getting their start in the industry. More established figures like Frank Woodley and Shaun Micallef also made a number of appearances.

In recent years, Australian TV has come under repeated scrutiny for its lack of similar opportunities for young comedians, with many inside the industry feeling that local networks – and most notably the ABC – are reluctant to embrace new talent. At its worst, this creates an environment that young creatives have described as “suffocatingly safe” and frequently results in us losing performers overseas.

While reviving an old comedy blockbuster from the mid-2000s might not seem like a bold, risk-taking move, it’s certainly promising to see a network actively creating space for this “new generation”.

Network 10 also launched comedy panel show The Cheap Seats in 2021, which is hosted by Melanie Bracewell and Tim McDonald (both in their 20s), and Taskmaster earlier this year.

Comedian Celia Pacquola will host the new show.

An imported format from the UK, the latter features an array of Australian comedians completing absurd and frequently humiliating tasks under the supervision of Tom Gleeson and his younger protégée Tom Cashman.

“I’m so excited Thank God You’re Here is coming back, and I’m thrilled to host because that means I’ll be in the best position to watch it,” said incoming host Celia Pacquola.

“I can’t wait to send comedians through the big blue door and not have to go through it myself.”

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