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HARD QUIZ: HAS BEENS
Wednesday, 8pm, ABC
Emerging triumphant from the 2021 AACTA film and television awards with the gong for Best Comedy Entertainment Series, without needing the mock campaign he ran for his own and Grant Denyer’s Gold Logies, Tom Gleeson knows he is on a winner with his unique take on trivia.
Tom Gleeson’s Hard Quiz: Has Beens with Rhonda Burchmore, Tony Armstrong, Tim Rogers and Ann-Maree Biggar.Credit:
Now shooting its seventh season, Hard Quiz is a rare perennial in the television landscape, its basic ingredients – ordinary nerds and Gleeson’s cynical disdain for them –coming up a treat every time. It’s a formula he’s reluctant to mess with, which is why he chose a different bent for his annual special. Only Gleeson could get away with branding a celebrity panel “Has Beens”.
“The term ‘celebrity’ is applied very loosely these days. So we thought it’d be funnier to say these are Has Beens, and be very upfront about it, and then they know where they stand before the show begins.”
The four humble contestants are You Am I singer, Tim Rogers; showgirl Rhonda Burchmore; children’s television presenter, Ann-Maree Biggar and AFL player turned presenter, Tony Armstrong.
In any show I ever do, there are disgruntled Hard Quiz applicants who have been overlooked.
“We wanted people from a broad range of fields, who you also wanted to see more of,” Gleeson explains. “When people turn up for me to give them a roasting on television, it’s so endearing. There’s something exciting about paying out someone like Tim Rogers, who’s universally loved. And Rhonda Burchmore loves to take the piss out of herself. I barely have to do anything. As for Tony, we put him on as a Sports Has Been, even though you could argue his media career is on the rise.”
Gleeson won’t divulge the celebrities who declined.
“Ironically, I don’t want to insult the people who said yes. It’s a big ask. We did ask some people and they’re like, ‘I’m not going to go on a show called Has Beens’. Ann-Maree, on the show, says, ‘I’m guessing Lisa McCune wasn’t available’, along with three or four other people she thought we went through, and she wasn’t far off the mark.”
Gleeson notes that the Has Beens would be recognisable, were they to appear – as Burchmore has done – on a celebrity reality series.
“I knew things were going a bit weird when Kyle Sandilands went into the celebrity Big Brother house 20 years ago so that people could know who he is. Now it’s happening with the (I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here!) jungle. People go into the jungle and I don’t know who they are. They’re raising their profile, and it’s like: Aren’t you already supposed to have a profile before you go in? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?”
Gleeson has turned down repeated offers of a spot on the Ten reality series.
“I’ve been asked quite a few times, but I’m not sure I’d want to go camping with those people even without cameras. I also don’t fancy putting myself in a situation where people can edit footage of me, because I reckon they’d cast me as the villain straight away … It actually still gives me night terrors how much money I’ve turned down. Maybe that was my one chance to cash in, but I’m playing a longer game.”
Gleeson is in ongoing talks about American and British versions of Hard Quiz. He’s also taking the show on an Australian tour next year.
“For years, at my stand-up shows, people have been heckling me, saying, ‘I applied for Hard Quiz – when am I gonna get the call to find out that I’m on?’
“In any show I ever do, there are disgruntled Hard Quiz applicants who have been overlooked. These are big shows – 1500 seats or 3000 in some cases – so within that group you’ll find more live wires that want run up onto the stage and have fun.”
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