TV

Hard Quiz Returns! Tom Gleeson is happy to grill everyday experts on his hit game show

'It’s constantly surprising, because I don’t know where it’s going to go and neither do they.'

By Cynthia Wang

Should Tom Gleeson ever be a contestant on Hard Quiz himself, his expert subject would surely be "successful PR campaigns".

Case in point: famously helping Family Feud host Grant Denyer win this year's Gold Logie for Most Popular Personality on Australian TV.

"I branded his campaign #Denyer4Gold and it just took off," Tom, 44, says proudly.

"I'm a very good campaigner and he was a very good candidate – although I'm not sure I'd trust him with my campaign in 2019."

Would the comedian ever have Grant, or any other celebrity, as a contestant? Is the Big Brass Mug really brass? Tom goes under the spotlight for the TV WEEK round of Hard Quiz.

TV WEEK: What's the secret to the success of your series?

Tom: Our questions being pretty tricky is part of it. People watch it and learn things. But the other part is that viewers enjoy me abusing the contestants, and them abusing me even more. There's something quintessentially Australian about a game show where the host and the contestants have no respect for each other.

Tom's public backing of Grant Denyer led to a ***TV WEEK*** Gold Logie.
Tom's public backing of Grant Denyer led to a TV WEEK Gold Logie.

What's the secret to the success of your series?

Our questions being pretty tricky is part of it. People watch it and learn things. But the other part is that viewers enjoy me abusing the contestants, and them abusing me even more. There's something quintessentially Australian about a game show where the host and the contestants have no respect for each other.

TV WEEK: Is it just us or are the contestants sassing back more every season?

It's constantly surprising, because I don't know where it's going to go and neither do they. The banter can only be real, because we just can't predict it.

When you kick off the losing contestants, where do they go?

They walk out through the door and then – you can tell they can't be taking it too seriously – usually just walk around and go and sit in the audience and watch the rest of the show.

Are there certain topics you tend to favour?

The trick is to find something we haven't heard of before. There's an episode coming up where someone's subject is knots, as in tying them and different types of knots. We love that stuff.

Is the Big Brass Mug very heavy?

There's a foundry or something that casts them. They're not cheap, so we make only as many as there are episodes. People think maybe we've just spray-painted a plastic cup, but when I came up with the idea of the prize being the mug, I liked the idea that when anyone picks it up, it's heavier than they think. It's intimidatingly heavy.

Kate, Ross, David and Kogu want that Big Brass Mug.
Kate, Ross, David and Kogu want that Big Brass Mug.

What's the best answer someone's given you about what they'll do with the Big Brass Mug if they win?

There's a guy who's going to take it on a footy trip to use it as a spew bucket. Then there was someone who said they were going to drink a margarita out of it and would salt the edges with my tears. That was a pretty good one.

Will you ever get celebrities to come on Hard Quiz?

It would be magnificent to find out that maybe your favourite comedian had a topic they knew a lot about, but that you had no idea they had a specialty in. Plus the banter, you'd have to think it would be world class. But I think part of the fun is learning who the contestants are throughout the show. I often describe Hard Quiz as a panel show for amateurs.

Are your children old enough to have expert subjects?

My son is three and my daughter is six. As a special treat, I sometimes let her stay up to watch the show. But as for what her expert subject would be? I don't know. Cakes?

Do people frequently stop you on the street to say "Out!" or "Hard!"?

It's non-stop. It happens all day, every day. I can usually tell when it's going to happen: they've got a playful look on their face as they're mustering the courage to yell one of the two.

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