Ben Ikin and Paul Kent co-host NRL360 on Fox three times a week. It is potentially the very best sporting show on national television.
But it will never reach that exalted status until they ask the questions and listen to the answer without interruption.
Their guests are all top quality, with either Phil Rothfield, Andrew Webster, Paul Crawley, or Dean Ritchie, all vastly experienced and recognised sportswriters, especially on rugby league, along with the two Origin coaches Laurie Daley and Kevin Walters, both very impressive guests.
On night two, current captain of Wests Aaron Woods, and his Bulldog counterpart James Graham, and the third night legends Billy Moore, and either Benny Elias, or Danny Buderus. All five are superb guests.
The concept is brilliant, but never properly projected because of the host’s chirp.
Ikin and Kent should take a leaf out of Yvonne Sampson and Peter Sterling’s panel-hosting book. They never chirp, they pay their panels the respect they deserve.
Matty Johns and ‘Crash’ Craddock aren’t far behind, but infinitely better than Ikin and Kent.
Sampson and Sterling have taken a leaf out of the Michael Parkinson book, the greatest television interviewer of all time.
And to be fair to Ikin and Kent, they will never be as bad as the worst interviewer of all time – David Frost.
Parkinson interviewed in excess of 2000 of the world’s most famous and interesting people with Muhammad Ali rated the best, and Dame Edna Everage the most hilarious.
Fred Astaire, Orson Welles, Madonna, John Cleese, Clint Eastwood, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Alec Guinness, Mel Gibson, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Marlon Brando, Robert Redford, Oliva Newton-John, Joan Rivers and George Michael were some of the most famous interviews. Parkinson’s biggest disappointments he never interviewed the Queen, Sir Donald Bradman, and Frank Sinatra.
Parkinson’s greatest assets were knowing what made his guests tick, and listening to their answers. The sure way to have a flowing interview is by listening, as invariably the next question would surface from the current answer.
That was Frost’s undoing, he never listened.
He had the exclusive rights to two of the most riveting guests in Richard Nixon who resigned as US President before he was impeached, and the Shah of Persia just before he died, a man of great substance in the middle east.
Frost blew both interviews badly.
He had a clip-board on his lap with about a dozen questions. He asked the first and cut off until his brain decided his guest had enough time to answer and would butt in with a second question that totally disrupted the flow.
And he did it time after time to bomb both interviews.
I was his guest live on British breakfast television and he did the same to me, giving the impression he knew more about the concept than I did.
The interruptions really pissed me off, and about the fourth or fifth question Frost gave me was a two and a half to three minute diatribe that included three parts.
I had to smile when I asked Frost to repeat the question – Frost didn’t smile, he was fuming, but never chirped again.
It’s a damn shame Richard Nixon and the Shah of Persia didn’t do the same and we as viewers would have learned more.
Ben Ikin and Paul Kent were at it again last night, interrupting firstly Dean Ritchie, then Kevin Walters and Laurie Daley.
Zip it fellas. If you listen instead, you’ll have the best sporting show on national television. You have the widest range of the most qualified guests who have plenty of interesting answers to well-prepared questions.
Give them a chance to prove it.