In 2011, Ben Elton returned to live variety TV comedy in the form of Live From Planet Earth, an hour long show on Australia’s Nine network. It featured Ben as host, introducing sketches and performances from a cast of regular contributors, in much the same way Saturday Live had done in the UK back in the late 80s.
Here’s how the network was promoting the show during the build up to its broadcast.
The ratings were low, and continued to drop through the first three episodes, as critics heaped ire on it, and it was unceremoniously cancelled with three more episodes never made.
In an interview in 2020, Ben talked about it all:
It was a deeply, deeply, deeply dispiriting experience … Channel 9 did something extraordinary, backing a return to Australian local content … But there was a feeding frenzy; it was ridiculous and wrong. If The Young Ones had been judged after two weeks, it would have been dead on its arse. It had the worst reviews. Blackadder the same; its first year was not considered very good and it nearly got cancelled. My advice to an Australian broadcaster is if you’re not prepared to let it go for a series, then don’t start and break everybody’s hearts.