He’s known for his fits of laughter and one-liners as host of hit TV show The Chase, and now Andrew O’Keefe has given a rare glimpse behind the scenes at what happens when it all goes wrong.
There have been some hilarious moments on the Channel 7 quiz show, with rude words, jaw-dropping mistakes and some tense show-downs – but it seems we haven’t seen half of the on-air blunders.
Speaking in an exclusive chat with Starts at 60, Andrew said his favourite moments during filming are when a contestant makes a mistake, or he’s confronted with a funny question or rude answer he’s not anticipating.
“The stand-out moments for us are when things don’t go according to plan, it’s always a lot of fun,” he said. “For example some of the great contestant answers we’ll never forget. You have to stop to have a little giggle, and I don’t always keep a straight face. One or two time I’ve had to stop the clock because I’m just convulsing with laughter.
“Particularly when the contestant realises what they’ve said is hilariously incorrect. The looks you see on people’s faces are priceless.”
While Andrew has power to stop the clock himself, he admitted he likes to run with the mistakes as much as possible – well aware of how they’ll come across to the viewers at home.
However, if one appears to get out of hand – which he says has happened in the past – the producers will cut him off.
“More often the director will get in my ear and stop it for me because I like to run with it when things go wrong, but that can take you down a rabbit hole of things that should never appear on prime time TV!” He joked.
“We had one the other day, we asked which particular philosopher had a particular wife who was known for being cranky. Of the three options, one was the German philosopher that in English we call ‘Cant’. Of course, it’s not actually pronounced Cant, it’s real pronunciation wouldn’t make the censorship rules of 5.30. Of course, I pronounced it like that and the contestant said ‘no wonder his wife was so cranky’. I got the wind up pretty quickly on that one!”
The show invites contestants on to face one of the Chasers in dramatic one-on-one quiz rounds. While they film in advance, Andrew insisted he often has to improvise on air – as he’s hit with a question he didn’t know was coming.
“I have absolutely no warning whatsoever, which is the joy of the thing,” he said. “My performance background was in improvisation, and I apply it to all situations on the show. When you’re working the same format everyday, it’s the little differences that makes each day different and fun.”
His colleagues and Chasers Anne ‘The Governess’ Hegerty and Mark ‘The Beast’ Labbett have achieved worldwide fame thanks to their harsh characters on the UK show. Now, they’re starring here in Australia too, and have strong competition from Matt ‘Goliath’ Parkinson as well as Brydon ‘The Shark’ Coverdale, Issa ‘The Supernerd’ Schultz and Shaun ‘The Destroyer’ Wallace.
Asked how the Chasers get on backstage, Andrew added: “Anne and Mark bring a certain authority with them because they’ve been at it so long in the UK. But you’d never know it with Anne. She’s an incredibly humble sort of person, despite the demeanour as the Governess.
“Mark is, in every sense, larger than life. Some people can find it a little over-bearing, but beneath those levels of bravado is just a little boy having the time of his life.”
He’s got no plans to leave the show any time soon, having ended his time with Deal or No Deal to take over the reins.
“The Chasers are some of the most extraordinary and interesting people you’re likely to meet, so there’s nothing not to enjoy,” he said. “We’re excellent friends, the whole crew has worked together for around 14 years because it’s essentially the same crew that recorded Deal or No Deal.
“We know each other quite intimately, I think the contestants might sometimes get a little confused by the in jokes, the nicknames, the banter that goes on.”