Entertainment TV Seven’s Hoges: The Paul Hogan Story surprises despite bad promos
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Seven’s Hoges: The Paul Hogan Story surprises despite bad promos

Josh Lawson (centre) showcases Paul Hogan's private side. Photo: Seven
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The promos for Hoges (Channel Seven, Sunday 12 February) intimated bad wigs, farcical comedy and a sad impersonation of an Australian icon.

The two-part mini series delivers something far better – a warm Australian story of its time and, quite possibly, a hit.

It follows as Paul Hogan and creative and business partner, John Cornell, develop Hoges – the most successful comedy character this country has ever seen – as a stereotype, a fictional Ocker character.

The show really captures two sides of Paul Hogan – the real man and his alter ego.

Despite being saddled with an appalling wig, Josh Lawson does a good job on both, even though he looks nothing like Hogan.

In fact, the quieter side of Paul Hogan he gives us is the more fascinating.

The series begins when Paul Hogan (Sean Keenan) is a teenage larrikin in Sydney’s Western Suburbs. His parents don’t have much money but find enough for his wedding, at 18, to young Noelene Edwards (Marny Kennedy).

Fast forward a few years and Hogan (now played by Lawson) is a rigger on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. He and Noelene have five children and live in a chaotic, happy, tiny house, struggling to make ends meet.

Hogan’s the funny man of the bridge team and decides to enter a talent quest to show off to work mates – and to take on the judges who savage the acts.

“We’re all supposed to lay down and die because these two clowns don’t reckon we have what it takes to make the grade? No, bugger that,” he says.

Hoges the character has arrived and, as we know, Hogan and Cornell (played well by Ryan Corr) take him to the world, through advertisements, television shows and film.

It’s fun to watch this journey again – albeit in a dramatised form.

'That's not a knife...'
‘That’s not a knife…’

We see his appearance on a Nine current affairs show for $30 cash a week.

“I would have done it for a fiver and a packet of chewy,” says Hogan.

He moves to Channel Seven for three years and plays characters like Leo Wanker, before moving back to Nine following a meeting with Kerry Packer who calls him and Cornell “ungrateful pricks” and gives them a million-dollar deal.

But the story of the private Paul Hogan, I think, is less familiar. In particular, his family life with Noelene (Justine Clarke is great) and how a teenage marriage copes with a massive change of fortune.

The first episode ends as Hoges becomes the face of the “G’Day Australia” campaign, which he appears in for free in order to break into the American market.

Cornell and Hogan are about to start filming their first feature film, having told Kerry Packer to “piss off” with his offer of another million dollars to own all rights.

Instead, they raise the money privately, keeping the rights and the profits.

That film is Crocodile Dundee and co-star Linda Kozlowski (Laura Gordon) arrives in Darwin.

We all know what happens next but I will be tuning in next week to watch anyway. And I won’t be so trusting of Seven’s promos next time round.

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