Nice guy Andy Lee returns in quirky show, The Hundred, as networks relaunch favourites

Andy Lee says it's a team effort making ‘something special’ for TV.

Andy Lee says it's a team effort making ‘something special’ for TV. Photo: Nine

Hot off hosting his quirky quiz during the Australian Open, comedian and radio/TV host Andy Lee is ready for game, set and match when The Hundred returns for a second season.

With a mantra and a reminder on his Instagram – ‘Must be Nice’ – Lee, 41, is not the only nice, hard or smiley face returning to hosting duties on free-to-air TV next week.

Across the board, the networks are playing it safe with familiar brands and their lead players coming back, tethered to the all-important ratings period, which started two weeks ahead of time this year.

TV expert Steve Molk tells The New Daily that while The Hundred is only in its sequel season, Lee’s Nine network show has “developed well” as the competing programs are relaunched for another round.

It’s all about what we know and who we like.

Stand-up comedian Tom Gleeson is cross-pollinating, returning to ask the hard questions on ABC’s Hard Quiz (February 8) and Taskmaster on the Ten network.

His stablemate Charlie Pickering is back on the national broadcaster for The Weekly (February 15).

Also on Ten, the 11th season of Have You Been Paying Attention? hosted by Tom Gleisner returns, as well as the surprisingly popular The Cheap Seats with Melanie Bracewell and Tim McDonald.

“There’s … familiarity, which is why almost all of these shows are on at least season three or four,” Mr Molk said.

“The networks are no longer keen to risk a new show to start their year poorly.”

The Hundred surprises

Lee is one half of Hamish and Andy, a bromance that has enjoyed an 18-year stint on radio, making hilarious TV travel specials and forging ahead with their podcast.

Mr Molk reckons Lee has honed his hosting skills, and has brought on a strong rotating cast of guests including Luke McGregor, Anne Edmonds, Denise Scott, Tommy Little, Kate Langbroek and Ross Noble.

Oh, and his buddy Hamish Blake.

Speaking to The New Daily before the premiere on February 7, Lee, an avid golfer and cricket lover, is ready to ask the big and small questions on everyone’s lips.

If you missed watching the Open’s version of The Hundred, where Lee brought in players like Nick Kyrgios and Andy Murray – asking them less gruelling questions than the press pack – the show has been compared to Gogglebox in reverse.

The weekly, one-hour panel show has 100 everyday Australians dialling in via Zoom from all around the country. Joining Lee this year is unassuming guest regular Sophie Monk via a 27-square-metre screen.

Handpicked to represent the demographics of Australia, the 100 people are polled live and give us the stories behind the stats.

People come up to him in the street with questions like: “Do you wash your legs in the shower?”; “Do you go barefoot into an aeroplane toilet?” or “Can you ask how many of The Hundred never wear underpants?”

“Those kinds of things come up all the time so I jot them down and then when we come to making the show, I say, ‘Here’s a bunch we haven’t thought about’,” he said.

“How much money do you spend on a vet bill? Anything in life while I’m just sitting there … I’ll look across at the shopping checkout [watching people] scanning avocados and potatoes and wondering how many people are doing that.”

What’s in store this year?

The team will address the important topic of personal grooming before Valentine’s Day – Lee says more than 50 per cent of Australians injure themselves during a grooming session.

There’s a couples squad, where couples decide their arguments like what end of the dim sim do you eat from – the rounded end or the folded end.

“These are the big issues we will be covering,” he said, delighted.

Looking for an ‘edge’

Mr Molk, who is focused on the business of TV in Australia across all its formats – FTA broadcast, commercial, subscription, catch up and BVOD – says all these shows are looking for a way to increase their audiences.

Seven’s The Front Bar, which premiered on February 1, rates in Melbourne but “nowhere else … so it has a mountain to climb”.

He says Working Dog’s HYBPA and The Cheap Seats are “delightful, funny, smart, and sharp” while Hard Quiz will continue attracting a massive audience this year.

“Everyone will be looking for an edge and a chance to grow their audiences, yet ratings statistics say they will all be down on last year as a generalisation,” he said.

“Shows after 8.30pm are watched on catch up/BVOD when it suits us (so the number might stay the same or better, but the overnight ratings get smaller).”

What about the new kid on the block, The Hundred?

“Andy has solidified his skills as host … he’s no Hamish Blake, however his chops have improved significantly.

“They obviously bring different strengths to hosting and Andy has really found his niche with this show.”

Lee, who is also an international best-selling children’s book author of the Do Not Open this Book series – “is very likeable and that works well for him”, Mr Molk said.

“It’s also cheap to make and extremely family-friendly.”

The Hundred with Andy Lee begins on Tuesday, February 7 at 9pm on Nine and 9Now

Topics: Television
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