Why we don’t want to be back in the room with Daryl Somers

Angus Kidman 29 April 2016


Hey hey, the ratings for You're Back In The Room weren't spectacular.

When Daryl Somers returned to Australian TV earlier this month for the first time in six years for the hypnotism-based comedy game show You're Back In The Room, Channel Nine must have thought it was onto a good thing. Overnight ratings showed that 1.15 million viewers tuned in, an impressive result for any show and doubly so given that it was up against Seven's My Kitchen Rules, unarguably the most popular show on Australian TV right now.

Nine's glee is unlikely to have lasted, however. Every week since then, fewer people watched. By the time the fifth and final episode aired last Monday, the overnight ratings had dropped to just 565,000 viewers. Even allowing for flatter ratings all round this week (because of the ANZAC Day long weekend), the trend is evident. Lots of people tuned in to vaguely check out what Daryl looked like these days, but the show did not become appointment TV.


So will the show get renewed? While it's a relatively cheap format, the smart money says no. The fact that Nine only commissioned five weeks suggested it wanted to see if there was long-term interest in the format. The chart above suggests unequivocally that there isn't.

When viewers have the choice of watching whatever they like on Netflix or Presto or Stan or hayu or YouTube, the most reliable formats for free-to-air TV to score ratings are shows we feel compelled to watch as soon as they're broadcast: news, sport and reality contests. If we want to watch people make fools of themselves, we can just wait for the next viral YouTube clip to show up on Facebook.

Somers himself continues to talk in interviews about reviving Hey Hey It's Saturday, which was a Saturday night staple from 1984 to 1999 and has already been the subject of one half-baked revival in 2010. That seems even less likely to succeed.

While there are undoubtedly some nostalgic Hey Hey fans out there, there's also an entire generation who has grown up without ever having cared about the show (and who might find its occasional forays into casual racism extremely bad taste). It's an expensive production (because of the big cast), and the last revival failed in a market where overall ratings were still higher than they are now. And somehow I can't imagine Netflix deciding that Hey Hey will be its first Australian production. Time to back away from the dead horse, Daryl.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

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