Andrew Denton is one of the most intelligent and sharp witted people currently working in the Australian media.
Andrew first came into view in the 1980's in a Saturday morning television show on the ABC called Beatbox
, which quickly gave way to the ABC TV series Blah Blah Blah. Blah Blah Blah
was a youth oriented show with a rock and roll comedy feel to it.
Andrew found his formula
when he hosted the more formal, big(ger) budgeted The Money Or The Gun
, a weekly talk
show. Every episode of Money
would have a different theme, with linking sketches throughout the episode. However, it was probably most well remembered for its musical guests. Each week a different band would cover 'the best song in the world
,' Stairway to Heaven
. Rolf Harris
's version went on to become a hit in the UK, where it had been stripped of all its context
There is a sharp intelligence behind Andrew Denton's jokes. What sets him apart from most other chat-show hosts is his ability to make serious points about serious issues in a comedy setting. Denton is also notable for interviewing ordinary people as well as celebrities and statesmen, exploring the challenges of their everyday lives.
He continued this theme in his next show, Live and Sweaty
, which aimed to cash in on Australia's chief obsession, sport. However, again, he was more interested in interviewing the less-well-known sports men and women.
By 1993 Denton was a shining star on Australian TV. His next series took him to even greater fame as it was his first show to be produced by and aired on a commercial network. His talk-show Denton
ran for two series of hour-long shows on the Seven
network in 1994 and 1995.
In 1995, he also presented two interview specials: “Andrew Denton Meets Kevin Costner
” and “Paul Keating
Unplugged,” a closer look at Australia’s then-Prime Minister
AD:``Can I call you Paul?''
PK:``Yes, you can call me Paul.''
AD:``Can I call you Pooky?''
In this way, by creating a relaxing setting with his comic ability, Denton is able to address serious issues in his programs. Denton likes to ask pressing questions, but he rarely steps over the line. While interviewing Kevin Costner
, Denton suggested a more manageable workload might have saved his recently-ended marriage. ``In my defence, (it wasn't) premeditated." And he did it when he asked Monica Lewinsky
if, when she saw Bill Clinton
on the news, she pictured him minus his pants. His line on that is, what is public record is fair game. He said it would have been perverse not
to ask actor Hugh Grant
about his disastrous dalliance with LA hooker Divine Brown, since it was so much in the public eye.
Ultimately, after enjoying months of commercial success, Seven wanted their big talk-show host to interview big stars, not ordinary folks, and by its second run there was hardly an Australian guest to be seen, as Denton chatted with an endless array of visiting American actors. He did, however, finally get to interview the writers of the 'greatest song in the world': Robert Plant
and Jimmy Page
. (The interview can be found here: http://trublukris.tripod.com/inter/pp-interview.html)
After he joined 2MMM to do The Andrew Denton Breakfast Show
, he was virtually absent from the world of TV. Apart from an occasional appearance on Good News Week
(an Australian version of Have I Got News For You
), nobody saw much of Denton on television. In 1999 and 2000 he co-produced and host
ed the Logies
(Australia's Emmy awards), where he sat on James Packer
(son of media magnate Kerry Packer
)'s lap to speak while Packer
drank some water to "prove" he was not a "puppet" for the Packer empire
Denton's long break from a permanent spot on television has been recently broken. He made a return to ABC in 2002, as the executive producer of CNNNN
, and he is currently hosting Enough Rope
on the ABC, a more serious interview show in much the same vein as Parkinson
. Thus far (to December 2006) it has been very successful, continuing Denton's winning formula that he developed at the ABC almost 20 years before.
Notable Guests on Enough Rope