With SVOD starting to become the norm of entertainment these days, it is becoming extremely competitive on what is the best streaming service around – especially in Australia.
After the introductions to Fairfax / Nine’s duo streaming site Stan and Foxtel / Seven’s combo Presto to compete against the already established US Netflix in Australia in early 2015, content has been fierce. While most of the SVOD services have the staple libraries of TV Shows (Friends, Californication, American Horror Story, Mad Men, any Chris Lilley project), many forget about the classics of Australian television. Sure, there’s the vast Channel 7 library such as Always Greener, Kinne, All Saints, the odd show from Auntie, and whatever else is left over from Channel 10 that Nine picks up off the floor, but what about the archive shows? The golden classics? Stuff that Australian TV historian Andrew Mercado covers?
— Andrew Mercado (@andrewmercado) September 3, 2015
Yeah, that’s not the most greatest example to this article, but the point is that there is a niche audience out there who want to re-watch the good and bad classics in full – which you find home made clips and official clips on YouTube, like It’s A Knockout!, Neighbours, Good News Week, IMT, The Don Lane Show, Blah Blah Blah… or purchasing at a costly price via iTunes or through the distribution company, like Homicide and The Sullivans via Crawfords. But a lot of that comes to copyright, distribution rights, and how much in the bottom dollar they’ll make to cover the costs.
Enter the one show that went solo.
For 28 years (plus 2 years of a comeback) Hey Hey It’s Saturday was part of a staple diet of television in every Australian household. From 1971 until 1999, 2 hours of light entertainment was broadcasted through the cathode ray tubes in the lounge room on a Saturday night, to entertain the young and old. A mixture of various talent, from comedians, local celebrities to A List Hollywood superstars and chart-topping music bands, anyone over 21 today had watched the show at least once. Host Daryl Somers, (who some will love and some will hate to love) would stand behind a desk with a puppet sidekick Ossie Ostrich (puppeteered by Ernie Carroll) for two hours from 6:30pm to 8:30pm, entertaining all of Australia on a Saturday night. The show was that popular, some people didn’t go out until the show was over. Featuring cast members from a comedic and musical background, there were many innuendos which would be borderline adult – but was still PG rated if you were not mature enough to understand. The show was axed in 1999 due to slowly sinking ratings and budget cuts, only to be resurrected in 2009 for 2 marathon reunion shows. This was done to coincide with the 10 year anniversary of the axing, and the popularity the show received from a Facebook fan page that was created by a singular fan.
Due to the success of these shows, the show came back in 2010 for 20 episodes, but was not renewed again as the ratings weren’t as successful as the reunions. These episodes were replayed on Channel 9’s digital station GO!, but the ratings were not as strong.
While there was merchandise galore during the original run, consisting of hats, t-shirts, watches, board games etc, there wasn’t much home media released. The spin-off specials “The Best And Worst of Red Faces” volumes 1 through to 7 were released on VHS and eventually DVD, as well as the nostalgic specials “Hey Hey By Request” volumes 1 to 4. Even the first finale in 1999 which went for 3 and a half hours was released on VHS (which was the style at the time) and profits of the sale went to charity.
After the show had finished its run in 2010, Daryl and the gang kept interacting with the 600,000+ fans on Facebook, posting random pictures, and put up random flashback clips. These became so popular, in November 2014, the official Hey Hey It’s Saturday website HeyHey.TV got a huge revamp after laying dormant for 4 years.
I, for one, am quite the nostalgic Australian TV fan. When I first heard that this was happening, I didn’t believe it at first. But once the site was launched, I nearly signed up straight away. The site has the 2 reunion specials available for free in full, so there was the bait. There are two payment options available – $59.95 a year or $6.95 a month – both ongoing through PayPal. I was a little hesitant at first for a paid subscription service as I was unsure of the actual content they were supplying, so I signed up for a monthly subscription. After a few clicks and approvals, I was in.
Straight up, I had the entire 1999, 2009 and 2010 season available to watch instantly. I already was thinking on how much of this stuff was edited or trimmed, but nope – it was all there. It seems that Daryl has digitised the master tapes from broadcast. You even get to hear the conversations that happen in between the ad breaks. It was all there – raw, ready and entertaining.
So what’s up on the site at the moment? I’ve allowed about 9 months to soak in to write this up, and at the time this article was written, every episode from 1992 – 2010 is available. Episodes from 1990 and 1991 are currently being released, with a schedule of 3 episodes from 2 years – every Friday at 9am totalling 6 episodes every week. Once that year is complete, the 2 more previous years are released – with the timeline going backwards.
All of them appear to be going up – even the specials and themed episodes, like Hey Hey Hits The Seventies, Hey Hey It’s Hippie Day, Hey Hey It’s Movie World, Hey Hey It’s Grease Lightning, Hey Hey We’re Going For A Song – Adelaide, Hey Hey It’s The Northern Territory, Hey Hey It’s Movie World Birthday, Hey Hey It’s 21 Years, Hey Hey It’s Sydney, Hey Hey It’s The Grand Prix, Hey Hey It’s Disney World… you’re getting the idea, right?
There’s 2 video qualities – Standard Definition and High Definition. The 2009 and 2010 episodes are the stock standard high definition quality picture, but what appears to be a great transfer is the older episodes. Some have had a colour wash, but the transfer is impressive. Each video has the Hey Hey It’s Saturday watermark in the top left hand corner.
Even if the tape has some damage or the master is missing, it is still included. But most of these things a a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ as it shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying the show.
You can even admire the jumper / suit of the week warn by Daryl.
But all the segments are there – songs, politically incorrectness, bloopers, everything. If it went to air during the original broadcast, it was there. Molly’s Melodrama, Media Watch TV, Pick Your Face, Celebrity Head, Red Faces, Wot Cheezus Me Orf, The Great Aussie Joke, musical performances, competitions, live commercials… all of it.
The only complaint I have is that at this present time, the Movie World special “The Silence Of The Hams” hasn’t been posted yet. It was on YouTube but has since been removed due to copyright. Though the Movie World episode which shows the highlights of the telemovie is available on the site.
Is it worth the cost? Personally, yes. $7 a month does not break the budget for me, and I have unlimited bandwidth for my net access. A standard episode is average 1 hour and 38 minutes and about 1.5GB for a HD file size. It appears the videos are also hosted on streaming site Vimeo, which shouldn’t be any issue if you have your video codecs up to date. The site works well using Chrome and Firefox. If you ever sat in the audience of the show or appeared in it at any time, there’s a 99.9% chance you’ll find that very episode you featured in on here.
If that still doesn’t convince you – even for something to watch so you realise how much gold and dorky stuff there is, subscribe to the Hey Hey It’s Saturday YouTube Channel and watch the highlights of the week.
Or as Molly would say – ‘Do yourself a favour…’
All screenshots were lifted from HeyHey.TV through a paid subscription from our own pocket. We have no association with Hey Hey – we are just fans!