The ratings:

Glenn Dyer writes:

So has the “black faces” skit furore cruelled the comeback of Hey Hey?

Crikey understands that backstage, Connick Jnr threatened to pull his live performance unless he was given the air time to makes his views plain. It was only with that threat in the air that Sommers made an on air apology.

The second reunion episode last night lifted its audience to more than 2.3 million, up from the 2.169 million from the first ep a week earlier. It helped Nine to win the night, as the first episode did. But Nine’s share was up on a week earlier to 43.2% nationally, from 40.0%. In Melbourne more than half the audience (51.2%) watched).

Audiences in Melbourne rose to 893,000 from 792,000 a week earlier, and in Sydney: from 524,000 to 632,000.

In the three most important markets last night, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, the black face skit didn’t have much of an impact on viewer numbers.

In Melbourne, where the biggest audience was, the number of viewers peaked at 9 to 9.15 pm with 984,000, then fell to 977,000 from 9.15 to 9.30 and 969,000 from 9.30 to 9.45 pm. The audience fell to 911,000 in the last quarter hour as people finished watching for the night, went to bed or changed channels.

In Sydney the audience peaked at 687,000 people from 9.15 to 9.30 pm and then 693,000 between 9.30 and 9.45. The audience fell to 636,000 in the last quarter hour, which is normal.

In Brisbane the audience peaked at 9.15 to 9.30 pm with 402,000, fell to 386,000 in the next quarter hour and 354,000 by the last quarter hour.

Celebrity MasterChef Australia averaged 1.080 million. Understandable given Hey Hey, so next week is its test. The program looked oddly vacant last night.

Filling the hour and making it pacy and interesting is a big test. Hungry Beast on the ABC at 9pm: 539,000. Not good.

So on these figures, Nine would be pushing to return Hey Hey. But Red Symons and Molly Meldrum are contracted elsewhere.

Jackie MacDonald returned for a one off appearance, as did Ozzie Ostrich. His master, Ernie Carroll has retired. And costs would have to be cut, especially for the bank and studio crew. Nine had to employ a tribe of freelancers for the broadcasts so deep have the cuts been at GTV. And, not everyone like Harry Connick and Jimmy Barnes would be appearing every week.

Saturday still appeals for it as broadcast night: it’s a dead night for TV, but Hey Hey would lift audiences numbers and give Nine a bang to end the week. But the costs insisted on by Nine would probably make Dazza Somers decide to retire once again.

The online streaming of the program and the links to the Aussies in the US and in Afghanistan again were interesting developments. If people can access the program and talk live to Darryl, and show the audience where they are, a real cult show could emerge: the first truly real time interactive program where the audience provides much of the content.

The Black Faces fallout:

Ruth Brown writes on the website:

And so it was that, amidst three hours of tired puns, dubious puppetry and that very special Daryl Somers-brand of awkward ad-libbing, was this:

They put on a Minstrel Show.

And it seems a few people got a little offended.

And by “a few people”, we do mean “pretty much the entire world”.

…In The Guardian: Harry Connick Jr weirdly unimpressed by Australia’s blackface Jackson 5:

In Australia, of course, it is perfectly acceptable, and we thank the nation for yet another important contribution to the annals of human culture.

For The AV Club: G’Day, Blackface!:

In case you were wondering what the country of Australia in 2009 has in common with fictional 1960s advertising exec Roger Sterling, well, apparently, they share an unbridled love of blackface. Really, they just can’t get enough.

Still Fresh And Funny In Australia: Blackface, scoffs The Awl:

You know what never gets old for the folks on Prison Island? Blackface! Oh, how they chuckle!

And you know you’ve really cocked-up when the world’s leading media industry gossip snarkers, Gawker, project some of their particularly acidic bile in your direction:

Wow, an American is being the voice of cultural sensitivity? Australia must be really messed up.

And the fallout continues, from the likes of New York mag, Movieline, dlisted and more.

For the 1980s anachronism Hey Hey, it was a harsh lesson in just how differently the media works in 2009: the whole world is now watching.

Read more here.

The theory:

Sophie Black writes on new Crikey group blog The Stump:

The reaction to Hey Hey’s ill advised Red Faces Blackfaces act is rapidly dividing into two camps: outrage and outrage.

Either you’re:

a) outraged that the Jackson Jive idea managed to get the tick from several producers, a talent scout, the host of the show and the six guys who took the time to sit in front of a mirror and apply boot polish to their visages

OR you’re

b) outraged that people don’t get “our Australian sense of humour” and that, sure, blackface may not be appropriate in the US, but over here, we have a special kind of humour, and that poncy Harry Connick Jnr and the “PC brigade” should rack off.

In camp A: pretty much the entire Twitterverse. Yes twits (myself included) love nothing more than tweeting their moral outrage and indignation about everything from Cheesybite to racism and everything in between.

But things get much more interesting in camp B. In the space of just a few hours, Hey Hey has become a calling card for misguided patriotism, in the same way that the flag took on an unsettling significance around the Cronulla riots, and the subsequent ban of the flag at The Big Day Out.

The lines are beginning to crystallise as they echo across talkback and websites.

Read more here.

Get more Crikey, for less

It’s more than a newsletter. It’s where readers expect more – fearless journalism from a truly independent perspective. We don’t pander to anyone’s party biases. We question everything, explore the uncomfortable and dig deeper.

Join us this week for 50% off a year of Crikey.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
50% off