The New Year’s Eve broadcast is never short on fireworks, though it can lack a little spark. Photo: Janie Barrett The ABC’s 2016 New Year’s Eve telecast will be hosted by Ella Hooper and News 24 presenter Jeremy Fernandez. Photo: Ben Cronje
Justine Clarke will present the earlier portion of the ABC’s 2016 New Year’s Eve telecast. Photo: ABC TV
Melbourne’s fireworks play a distinctly second fiddle. Photo: Darrian Traynor
There really are just two ways to spend New Year’s Eve. You either ignore it completely or you take the bull by the horns, make out like Dionysius and get thoroughly trashed.
The former means you’ll have nothing to remember the next day, and that’s just fine; the latter means you’ll have plenty to remember, but little chance of doing so.
The absolute worst place to be on New Year’s Eve is the middle of the road, and not just because you risk being collected by some over-the-limit BLOODY IDIOT. Treating the occasion like it matters, but not throwing yourself headlong into the fray, means just one thing. Feeling let down.
There are few things more deflating than counting down the clock to midnight on your own, or with a bunch of people who think the occasion ought to be marked with sober nodding of heads and manly handshakes. This is a time for diving into the pool with your clothes on – or better yet, with someone else’s clothes on, or no clothes on at all. Alternatively, it’s a time for going to bed at 9pm.
So let’s spare a thought for the poor bunnies whose job it is to stay (at least nominally) sober and steer the Good Ship Frivolity through the narrows that separate The Year That Was from The Year That Will Be. I’m talking about the personalities assigned to host the New Year’s Eve Spectacular (ABC, Saturday, December 31, from 8.35pm).
I’m assuming this is a gig allocated by the drawing of straws. I mean, you can’t imagine people are exactly busting to get into director of television Richard Finlayson’s office, yelling “pick me, pick me – I want to die slowly on screen, over four hours”. If there’s a more thankless task in Celebrityland, I can’t think of it. If there’s a job more set up to fail, I don’t want it.
Cast your mind back a couple of years, to the moment at the end of the broadcast when host Julia Zemiro, one of the most fleet-footed, intelligent and charming people on TV, forgot her microphone was still on and muttered “Thank God that’s over”. Millions would have agreed with her, except by then they’d already turned off.
Last year’s (non-)event was no better. Hosted by Ella Hooper and Eddie Perfect, with Play School’s Justine Clarke kicking the night off early for the littlies, the show was roundly condemned as another failure. Social media lit up with the fireworks of opprobrium; we may not have anything quite as boisterous as Hogmanay in this country, but we have at last developed our own NYE tradition – tweeting that the ABC’s coverage is so bad it makes you nostalgic for the days of Richard Wilkins.
But, really, no one can win at this game. Hosting the NYE broadcast is like being the chief spruiker for a telethon, only without the noble cause. It’s an exercise in maintaining a stupid grin for four hours, feigning wonder at the sight of millions of dollars of explosives being pointlessly detonated above a giant coathanger, then doing it all over again a couple of hours later.
This year the ABC claims it “will be hosting the biggest night of the year” with a four-hour slog – sorry, “entertainment extravaganza” – live from the Sydney Opera House forecourt. The show will be “jam-packed with some of the country’s funniest comedians”, with “brilliant musical performances and more celebrities than you can poke a sparkler at”.
Ella Hooper is back, wondering perhaps how she went from playing New Year’s Eve gigs with her band Killing Heidi to this, with Malaysian-born News 24 presenter Jeremy Fernandez striking a blow for diversity as her co-host (I’m guessing Eddie Perfect had an invitation for some root canal work that he just couldn’t decline).
Tune in if you must, but you have been warned.
Karl Quinn is on facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on twitter @karlkwin