In short, one of Australia's most iconic television shows.
Hey Hey began in 1971 as a Saturday morning show, hosted by Daryl Somers and Ossie Ostrich, as a series of humour segments interspersed with cartoons. Gradually, the cartoons were phased out and the show was shifted to a later timeslot, where it became a variety show. By that time it had already developed a following by young and old viewers. It ran for 28 years in its initial run (including a hiatus in 1978-9), finished its run in 1999, then was revived in 2009 for a regular 2010 Wednesday night timeslot (although it kept its original name).
The format of the show is largely ad-lib. Sketches and segments are and were cut short or spontaneously stopped, sometimes for no apparent reason. Presenters often interrupt host Daryl Somers with quips pertaining to the current segment. The fourth wall is frequently broken, and producers make no attempt to hide this fact. Generally, there are at least two music items from current big name bands, and the rest of the show is made up of a choice of a large array of segments unique to the show. The most popular regular segments are Red Faces (a talent quest, judged by Redmond Symons among others); Plucka Duck (contestants win prizes by "plucking" ducks from a carnival-style gizmo); Chook Lotto (a lottery with frozen chickens used in place of balls); Celebrity Head (contestants guess the name of a celebrity by asking yes/no questions) and Molly's Melodrama (host Molly Meldrum's review of local and international music).
Presenters were added, but rarely removed, as the show continued its run. Many, but not all, of the following presenters returned for the 2009 reunion and new 2010 season:
- Daryl Somers, main host
- Oswald Q. Ostrich, Daryl's pink feathered friend (puppeteered by Ernie Carroll)
- Jackie McDonald, Denise Drysdale, Jo Beth Taylor and Livinia Nixon, co-hosts
- Wilbur Wilde and Red Symons, band members (Red is also a judge in the Red Faces segment)
- John Blackman, voice-overs (notably of Dickie Knee, naughty schoolboy; and Mrs. MacGillicuddy, an (unseen) old woman)
- Andrew Fyfe, cartoonist
- Plucka Duck and Suze Raymond, hosts of the Plucka Duck segment
- Ian "Molly" Meldrum, former co-host of Countdown, host of the Molly's Melodrama segment
- Russell Gilbert, comedian and warm-up comedian
- Trevor Marmalade, live reporter.
The show has become an icon of Australian culture. Australian careers have been launched on the show, it has been referenced in pop culture (namely in the movie The Castle), and it has gained international attention (sometimes for the wrong reasons - see below). So popular was its initial run that in the ten years preceding its return, many groups dedicated themselves to trying to bring the revival of Hey Hey (as it is commonly known) to national attention. Finally, a Facebook group managed to do so in 2009. The group's 10,000 members were noticed by the Herald Sun and, subsequently, the Nine Network (on which the show airs). As a result, two reunion specials were aired in mid-2009, and the show began its regular run again a year later.
Although popular, the show has had its controversies. The second reunion show sparked perhaps the most notorious controversy within the show: a sketch called "Jackson Jive", a dig at the Jackson Five, featured several performers in blackface. On camera, Harry Connick Jr. was noticeably offended; off-camera, former regular guest Kamahl was equally offended. Somers apologised to Connick on-camera after the incident. In a similar incident (although completely unrelated to the airing of the show), cricketer Shane Warne referred to Makhaya Ntini as "John Blackman" - Ntini was battling an injured knee or "dicky knee", and Warne was claiming that, like Blackman, Ntini was "controlling" his "Dickie Knee". As you can imagine, Ntini interpreted this as a racist comment.
Currently, Hey Hey airs on Wednesday nights on the Nine/WIN network.