A year of The Chase with Andrew O’Keefe

Andrew O’Keefe hadn’t realised the show had already been on the air for a year when Mediaweek called him

The phone call from publicity was a surprise for Andrew O’Keefe. He hadn’t realised the show had already been on the air for a year.

“I went ‘a year for what exactly?’ It’s flown by. I think that’s an indication of the fact it’s gone really well. You tend to struggle and view the ratings every day and make life very hard for yourself when it’s not going well. Those years can crawl by,” O’Keefe recounted.

MORE: O’Keefe speaks with Dan Barrett in a Mediaweek podcast

The Chase celebrated its one-year anniversary on air in mid-September, continuing O’Keefe’s reign as Seven’s game show czar following a 12-year run hosting Deal or No Deal. O’Keefe was happy to retire the Deal or No Deal format, knowing that it was time.

“Anything has a lifespan. As much as people may love a format, once it becomes so comfortable for people that they feel they don’t have to tune in without missing much, then it’s probably time to give it a rest,” he explained.

Game shows are interesting in that even once a format is retired, often fans will eventually clamour for its return. While Deal or No Deal may be rested for the moment, like Wheel of Fortune or The Price is Right, the format may well be revived at a later date.

“It was a very upbeat program in which, basically, if you could spell your own name you could participate. It was a great democratic format and very lively,” explained O’Keefe.

Moving on to The Chase has allowed O’Keefe to exercise different game show muscles: “Deal was a different venture to The Chase. The aim of the game for Deal was pure entertainment. I always viewed it as vaudeville and our shooting days were live theatre for the 150 screaming maniacs who came along every day. This is, obviously, a little more considered. The beauty for me is that I have five people in the show who are the stars of the show. I’m the traffic warden.”

One of the reasons O’Keefe was surprised to be told of the anniversary of The Chase was due to the non-linear way the series is filmed. While the show is broadcast daily, the show is recorded in blocks of episodes with close to three months of shows recorded. Filming usually runs four days a week, with three episodes filmed each day.

O’Keefe is thankful for the opportunity that The Chase provides him, balancing out his more serious role in hosting Weekend Sunrise.

“I’ve always very much appreciated that about the path my career has taken. 50% of me is all about razzmatazz. It’s nonsense and stuff – glitter guns and hurling handbags. The other side of me has always enjoyed good, robust thought and debate. We don’t always get that on Weekend Sunrise, but we try as hard as we can.”

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