“It was like a family — Adam, Alan, and I are all really close and have remained so over the years.”
Adam Hills remembers one piece of advice he was given at the very start of Spicks and Specks: âYou should always remember this, no one sets out to make a terrible song.â
In an early episode of the show, theyâd been making fun of an Australian musicianâs pretty awful music video from the seventies. Afterwards, their producer warned them about being wary of the tone the show wanted to convey.
âPaul [Spicks and Specksâ producer] came up to us and said âlook, you are completely right to diss this guy thatâs a terrible video, howeverâŠ. everyone is doing their best and trying to make a good song.â So, I think that stuck with us from the very early days. Yeah, we can make jokes but letâs not be mean.â
Itâs both extremely good advice for everyone, and an indication of Spicks and Speckâs defining feature: wholesomeness. Itâs genuinely feel-good, delightful television, like spending a night at the pub with all your funniest and most charming friends.
I once heard it described as Never Mind The BuzzCocks, but with nice people. And itâs just so true. It was funny, weird, often lewd, but never mean. It was always a celebration.
âBill Bailey said something similar,â agrees Adam Hills. âafter doing an episode [of Spicks and Specks], he said âwellÂ it was like being onÂ Buzzcocks, but whenever I said something funny, no one said shut up freak -boy.’â
â ABC TV + iview (@ABCTV) October 15, 2018
The long-running and beloved show is coming back for a one-off reunion special, so we chatted to hosts Adam Hill and Myf Warhurst about what itâs been like bringing the team back together.
âI think we were a bit unsure at first until we knew whether it would be the right thing to do because we left out on a high. It rarely happensÂ these days, but we didnât get the sack,â Myf Warhurst tells me, referring to the rash of cancellations on the ABC recently.
âSo, when the offer came up to do this, I know I went, âOh, Iâm not sure. I donât know if thatâs the right thing to do. If it doesnât work, weâve ruined the legacy that we left. But then the other option is that it could work and it could be heaps of fun.â And we filmed it, and I can safely say as soon as we sat down, and I looked at Adam and Alan, and itâs just like putting on an old pair of boots, you know?Â Â It was so good. We just had that magic.â
For Hills, it was a no-brainer: he told me he felt âabsolutely no differentâ about the prospect of reuniting.
âIf anything, it felt a bit more fun, because weâd been away from each other, and weâre all excited to get back to do it againâŠÂ We were just loving being back with each otherâs company, and it all clicked. It absolutely clicked.â
As well as the idea of ânot being mean to peopleâ, Spicks and Specks had other ways of creating wholesome TV. Adam HillsÂ points out it was the quality of guests that the show regularly had on that helped with this.
âThe other great piece of adviceÂ we received that I think made it a show people loved to watch, came from Peter Faiman, he was one of our consultants early on. He said to me, âyouâve got to treat this like a dinner party where the viewers donât know who the guests are or who youâre talking about.’â
Adam Hills tells me about the time Alan BroughÂ was approached on the street by an elderly woman who said, âIâve been watching Spicks and Specks since it started,Â I donât know who any of you are talking about but itâs just nice to see people enjoying each others company on televisionâ.
âIt was like a family â Adam, Alan, and I are all really close and have remained so over the years,â Myf Warhurst explains.
âI think we all knew at the time, we just got so lucky to have this moment where all three of us just gelled really easily. We didnât have to work hard at it, and that happens so rarely in anything you do in the creative field,Â I donât know what the magic is, but it worked for us and just getting back together and hanging out was just as much fun.â
With such a lengthy and hilarious run, there is an abundance of iconic moments from the show. But IâmÂ not interested in iconic moments â I want to find the example of the most Spicks and SpecksiestÂ instant in all of Spicks and Specks. The segment or scene or game that exemplifies the soul of the show, that youâd use to seduce a new watcher into it.
Myf immediately picksÂ a ballsy choice:
âOh, I think speaking of Frank Woodley, it would have to be the one where he is on and at the end, one of our guests â Little Nell â had a â60s pop hit which had her in a bathing suit doing the swim.Â During the original filmingÂ apparently, her bathing top came down and that was the story she told â and then Frank did his own version of that, the dance in a bathing suit. I donât know if you remember this.â
I totally remember this.
âAs he was doing it, he was pulling because the bathing top was coming down, he started pulling up his bathers soâŠ everything was coming out.â
Sheâs talking about at least one of Frank Woodleyâs testicles.
âWe had no idea it was happening. It is I reckon one of the funniest moments on Australian television Iâve ever seen. I justâŠ Iâve never laughed so hard in my life. I laughed so hard it hurt. I was just thinking about that the other day. Itâs such a perfect indication of what the show is about, which is about artists and their stories. I reckon thatâs the episode that would have to go down as one of the iconic episodes for sure.â
Adam Hills also agrees with Myfâs choice, adding: âFrankâs testicle, you canât get past that, thatâs television gold.â
But he also identified another top moment:
âI mean, the top for me, for me the most iconic Spicks and Specks moment would be a choice of either when we did the Time Warp the episode with Richard OâBrien. I really enjoyed that, because it came out of nowhere, then suddenly you had Alan, and Myf as Brad and Janet and Richard Gill â God rest his soul âÂ and then you had Richard OâBrien down the front singing Rocky Horror, and then at the end all stripped down fishnet stockings.â
Reminiscing is all well and good, but we need to know: does Spicks & Specks have a future beyond this one-off special?
âOh, I canât imagine that that could happen, to be honest,â Myf says, citing Adam Hills busy UK schedule as the main hurdle.
âWe had such a nice time, and it was so much fun. I donât know. Maybe Iâll ask if heâll be interested for a special or two here and there. Maybe that might be nice. I had such a good time.â
Adam Hills seconds the idea of specials.
âI mean, after we did this reunion special, I said to the guys I donât know about you but I would happily come and do this every year for Ausmusic Month,â says Adam Hills, which is pretty hopeful.
âI said to Alan after the reunion special, if this our way of saying goodbye to Spicks and Specks for good, Iâm happy with that because when we did our farewell special it was too much sadness in the end, because we knew we wouldnât be back on again. But this time it was just right for me, so if this is the end, Iâm glad we did it our way.â
The Spicks & SpecksÂ reunion will kick off at 7.40pm on Sunday, November 4.
Patrick Lenton is the Entertainment Editor of Junkee. He tweets @patricklenton.