Who would have thought Channel 7 would have been dug out of a big, deep hole by funny kids on pogo sticks, playing pianos, carrying whips, salsa dancing and with big brains?
Yet that seems to be what has happened. Little Big Shots, which aired on Sunday night, at least dims the memory of a messy CEO affair scandal, financial woes and shabby shows in Hell’s Kitchen and Yummy Mummies.
This program is classic family television – fronted by a terrific, funny, engaging host in Shane Jacobson. No snide comments or nastiness here. Jacobson is just like everybody’s favourite uncle. He’s funny, supportive and up for anything.
On paper, it’s an oddball idea. Scour Australia and the world and find exceptional children with amazing talents, pop them on a stage in a theatre and demonstrate their skills. No judges. No prize money. No competition.
But it’s an idea that was created by US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and controversial radio host Steve Harvey, so its pedigree is interesting and it has been proven by a US version on NBC.
The second episode on Seven featured some of those seen on the parent series – and why not!
Anke Chen is a highly accomplished classical pianist from China. Her favourite composers are Mozart and Beethoven. She’s only six years old and her little fingers fly across the keyboard.
She had a personality to match her skill and didn’t hesitate, with the help of her young interpreter, to have a good laugh at Jacobson.
“She said your nose is very big, you have a white beard and your eyes are funny.”
Jacobson is the perfect host for this show. Nothing fazes him and he’s not patronising. He makes the kids laugh.
For example, he simply (and genuinely) couldn’t say “whip cracker” when chatting to seven-year-old Thomas from Queensland. “Cracker” became “crapper”, no matter how hard he tried.
His interview with Thomas (and the others) was hilarious and he established that Thomas’ parents “wander around the house all day” and that he has “no idea” how they earn money.
Thomas is, indeed, an extraordinary whip cracker and cut a bread roll, a spring roll and a bundle of straw in half as Jacobson held them, wearing safety glasses and gloves.
There was a young boxer, Evnika from Kurdistan, who landed 298 punches on Shane’s boxing mitt in just 30 seconds.
— Little Big Shots (@LBSon7) September 3, 2017
Evan, 8, a “human encyclopedia”, randomly named more than six countries, their capitals and their leaders just from their flags.
And there was even a Guinness World Records success when 11-year-old Ewan completed 1253 consecutive jumps on a pogo set with no hands. The crowd went nuts!
In a rare grown-up scheduling moment, Channel 7 pulled this show away from the Nine juggernaut, Australia’s Ninja Warriors. After all, family audiences can’t be in two places at once.
Like Warrior, Little Big Shots proves that water-cooler television can exist outside of live sport. Long may this respite from snaky, manufactured and competitive television continue!