VIEWPOINT: A TV icon in the hot seat

"IT has been a big week in football." 

Interest surrounds whether The Footy Show will recapture the glory days with the return of Eddie McGuire.

Interest surrounds whether The Footy Show will recapture the glory days with the return of Eddie McGuire.

From 1994 to 2005, arguably the biggest name in the football media industry sprung onto our screens, rubbing his hands together noting the sizable week it had been in football, yet not knowing what spontaneous antics would appear live for the next two hours on Channel Nine's The Footy Show. 

Football is entertainment that has dominated the commercial television landscape since the days of the late Lou Richards and World of Sport. 

Long after the king of television and variety entertainer Graham Kennedy departed Studio 9 at Bendigo Street, Richmond, there was a noticeable void, until Eddie McGuire, 52, and his "old married" mates Sam Newman and Trevor Marmalade brought big event television back to full colour. 

The three worked in sync, Trev would throw his hand up off-air to signal he had a brilliant impromptu gag about the week in footy or even a jibe at one of the panelists sitting no more than three metres away. 

Newman would say what came straight off the top of his mind and rarely was it politically correct. 

Described as a dinosaur by his prolific haters, he has mellowed with age, but at 71 still has the urge to look down the barrel of the camera and just burst, but he's gagged by producers.

It's not back to the future, as Eddie described it last Friday, when he announced his timely return to the program that made him a household name, and whether you love or loathe the bloke, he is one of the best live entertainment hosts still going around.

Since his departure, viewership dropped off in droves, yet the once juggernaut hadn't really had fierce football show competition on the Seven or Ten networks, until now with Seven's The Front Bar. 

The content became bland like a pie without sauce, the hosts weren't prepared to let Newman off the leash and rein him in when it was appropriate. 

Desperate for laughs, YouTube clips would suffice and random skits away from the studio went to air.

The studio is big enough to return The Footy Show into big event television. The set is bright enough for sit-down one-on-one interviews. 

I'm a big fan of live variety and entertainment television, knowing you were about to view something that might not ever have been rehearsed. 

The likes of Doug Hawkins, Jason Dunstall, Dermott Brereton, Brendan Fevola and Shane Crawford never shied away from exposing their personalities, never feared giving a controversial opinion or giving away a scoop. 

Today's cohort of players solely exist on the show to give their tips for the round. They need to be involved in the show, prepared to participate in stunts and let loose.

Unlike Daryl and the gang reuniting for Hey Hey It's Saturday, The Footy Show hasn't missed a season in 25 years. It still has relevance, it just needs a stint on the sidelines to re-boot. 

If you want football analysed, flick over to Offsiders, Footy Classified or AFL 360.

Football still needs an entertainment factor. Players have and need to give something different to their fans. 

Bring back Street Talk -- Sam goes to a town or suburb, holds out a microphone and most of the time people will just be drawn to him. 

Don't be afraid of Newman's antics because today's television lacks risks -- all too scripted and stiff with a run-down to the second. 

End the show with high-flying bands in town, not a dull handball competition that was originally a fixture on sister-show The Sunday Footy Show. 

Footy Smarts, a competition that ran over five weeks earlier this year that pit football fans in a football quiz, should run over a longer period.

Take Bill's wheel back on the road to country footy and netball clubs.

If you want The Footy Show to turn into a family-friendly show, Newman won't be your man. Take Newman for the whole package because his persona will never change, he thinks off the top of his head and is never afraid to say it how he sees it.

Players are too media managed to even consider about joining Newman. 

Perhaps bring the show back to its original 9.30pm timeslot, a time that is edgy and dangerous, but appropriate for a few expletives. 

Rebecca Maddern will be comfortable between the two thorns, but McGuire could easily be the sole host. 

Marmalade would make a fitting return to the show, something I see that's romantic which worked and still would. 

It will be interesting to see how the show feels with its old host back in the hot seat, but I believe it can still fight in the new battle.

The reveal of team selections once made the show, but news outlets break those hours beforehand. Perhaps it's still appropriate for the show, but in a smaller version. 

It's more than a game.

Game on.

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