It is one of the most anticipated television shows of 2010, but this week’s long-awaited return of Hey Hey It’s Saturday almost didn’t happen. We reveal the scandal, secrets and illness that threatened to sabotage our longest-running and most popular TV variety classic.
The disappearing act
Right up until the 11th hour of last year’s top-rating Hey Hey It’s Saturday Reunion Special, not even host Daryl Somers knew if his old sidekick Jacki MacDonald would emerge from self-imposed exile to front the cameras.
Now, on the eve of Hey Hey’s official return to the small screen, Daryl, 58, has confirmed Jacki, 56, will come back to the show which made her a household name.
“I’ve spoken to Jacki and she would love to be involved on a semi-regular basis,” Daryl tells Woman’s Day.
During the 1970s and 1980s Jacki was everywhere, gathering a swag of TV Week Logie Awards for Most Popular Personality in her home state of Queensland … but then she dramatically vanished.
“I realised there was a whole other life to be had being anonymous and it was pretty good,” says Jacki, who disappeared to the Sunshine Coast, married a surgeon and raised two children.
“Jacki’s a very private person,” says a close friend who worked with her at the Nine Network and doesn’t wish to be named.
Another says, “She may have played along with the kooky, zany image, singing Folks Are Dumb Where I Come From, but Jacki’s certainly no dummy.
“As soon as she left Hey Hey, she used her money to start buying up land on the Sunshine Coast,” the TV insider tells. “She’s got quite an impressive property portfolio that runs for kilometres south of Noosa.”
At no time did Jacki’s star shine brighter than when she became a welcome fixture in our lounge rooms as the perfect zany sidekick to Daryl and Ossie Ostrich.
With her infectious giggle and carefree ability to laugh at herself, she soon became the undisputed favourite with the TV public, endearing herself to viewers as Hey Hey co-host for nine years before leaving in 1988.
For more Hey Hey secrets see the full story in this week's Woman's Day, on sale April 12, 2010.