This post was first published on news.com.au on 3 March 2018. See the original here.
Enough Rope was one of the most popular shows on TV when Andrew Denton decided to call it a day. Now he’s revealed the real reason.
Andrew Denton interviewed dozens of people during Enough Rope’s six-year run on the ABC.
Bill Clinton, Jerry Seinfeld, Helen Mirren and Elton John were just some of the famous people who sat down with the man who was widely regarded at the time as the best interviewer in the country.
Now, almost 10 years after the last episode aired, Denton has revealed one of the main reasons why he decided to walk away from the show at the height of its success.
On the Game Changers: Radio podcast, host Craig Bruce was chatting to Denton about Enough Rope and remarked that the show “became a confessional almost”.
“In the early years it was fantastic like that,” Denton said.
“But by the last couple of years that had become a bit of a trap ... and it’s part of the reason I wound up the show. People were coming on, and ironically one of them was Craig McLachlan, and they were doing their ‘performance’ as an Enough Rope guest.”
Denton said that some guests would come on the show and “cry” but he could tell they were faking it.
“It wasn’t everyone but there were some notable moments where I remember thinking, ‘this is an act’.
“The better guests became the ones from overseas who didn’t know what they should be doing,” the entertainer said. “It was the opposite of what I was in it for which was honesty.”
FYI — Craig McLachlan broke down in tears on Enough Rope as he recounted what it was like to film a Stuart Diver telemovie on the same day that the September 11 attacks took place in New York.
Denton was famous for the amount of research he would do before interviewing someone on Enough Rope and he told Bruce on Game Changers: Radio podcast that “there’s just not too much information I can have”.
“At the time I banned our researchers from using Wikipedia,” he said, instead telling them to use primary sources.
Describing his thought process for extensive research, Denton explained, “we know what this person’s career is but who are their contemporaries and where do their careers intersect?”
“You never know where that insight is going to come from which tells you something about this person or is going to unlock them in a way that you hadn’t expected.”
As an example, Denton recalled the time he interviewed the lead singer of R.E.M., Michael Stipe.
“He’s a notoriously difficult interview and we knew it was going to be difficult but it remains one of the ones collectively that we were most proud of,” Denton said.
“We realised that when you looked at this guy’s career, though he was known chiefly for music, a lot of his career was visual. A lot of those clips he was involved in, Being John Malkovich he was involved in, he had done photography books ... So our way of approaching Michael Stipe was to do a visual interview.”
During their research, the Enough Rope team discovered that Stipe had decided to become a musician after he stayed up one night listening to a Patti Smith song on repeat while eating cherries.
“So we actually bought out a table with an old record player with Patti Smith’s Horses and a bowl full of cherries [on stage for the interview] and he went, ‘oh my god, no one’s gone to such effort to evoke a memory before’.“His manager said to us afterwards it was the most relaxed he’d ever seen him in an interview.”
But Denton went on to explain that no amount of research could cover the fact that sometimes he just wasn’t that interested in certain people he’d agreed to interview.
“Princess Mary, which I did really badly and got appropriately s**tcanned for, [was bad] because I just wasn’t interested,” he told Mr Bruce.
“Afterwards I thought, here’s a basic question I should have asked: What’s the point of royalty? What are you here for? But I didn’t.
“If I’m bored then the audience had every right to be bored too.”
Denton will be back on our screens later this year doing what he does best. He’s got a new show on Channel Seven called Interview, which he told the Herald Sun will be “centred around human beings who are fascinating, they could be celebrities, or people in the news”.
“I sat out for a long time,” Denton said about his TV comeback. “Part of returning is just how the world has changed. It seems to have got crazier, meaner, louder and shoutier. I wanted to come back and hold a conversation.”