Rove's pilot is ready for take off
ROVE McManus is taking a bigger punt than most during Channel 10's Pilot Week.
The network is launching pilot episodes for eight new shows this week, with ratings and viewer feedback determining which concepts are given full seasons next year.
It's a television first, with pilots traditionally evaluated by TV executives behind closed doors. It's a novel concept which the TV veteran, who has spent his fair share of time working in the US, is excited to be a part of.
"In the States they have a lot of pilots and a certain time of year when they commission a tonne of pilots but it's all behind closed doors," McManus says
"This is the first time when the public will get to see the shows and make the decision of whether they like it or not.
"All of them, no matter what happens, will get to see the light of day, which is unprecedented."
McManus returns to his variety show roots in Bring Back... Saturday Night, which will be filmed live in front of a studio audience. It's the only Pilot Week project that is yet to be filmed and once the red light is on there's no turning back and no second takes.
"One of the things that excites me about it is it's such a huge gamble what we're doing," he says.
"We don't even have access to the studio until the day of the show, not that you can rehearse a live show anyway. When you consider normally when you do a pilot you can do it in the confines of a safe studio environment behind closed doors and you can do a second take if you want to, I'm excited Ten are willing to take that risk."
This is McManus's bid to revive Australia's Saturday night viewing, which has been relegated to repeats and movies as of late.
"We're piloting is the idea of Saturday night being a viable night for viewing entertainment," he says.
"At the moment it's a bit of a TV wasteland. I'm excited by the idea making a go of this to find an audience not being served on this night of the week. If you look at the ratings Saturday just seems to drop away, but it can't just be well they're all out at parties or a sporting event.
"Maybe don't go to a streaming service. You can stick to free-to-air TV and there's something for you to watch."
He describes Bring Back... Saturday Night as a mix of Hey, Hey It's Saturday, The D-Generation and his long-running variety show Rove.
"It's all those programs wrapped up into one," he says. "We've been working on the tone, coming up with segment ideas, booking talent - working out what the show will be. Obviously because we're on a Saturday night so the idea is to utilise the fact that it's the most fractured night of the week.
"We'll be crossing live to events happening around the country but also making sure we've got a very exciting live studio program for people to enjoy as well. At this point it's about putting all the pieces of the puzzle together but you don't get to sit back and look at it until the red light starts flashing.
"I'm of a generation where The D-Generation was a show that we would watch before we went out, or if you were out at a friend's party we would stop to watch the show. I do think Saturday night has a legacy, probably more than people realise, and it would be exciting if we could rekindle the embers."
Bring Back... Saturday Night premieres on Saturday at 7.30pm on Ten.