Andrew Denton not seeking safe seat: official
Talking through a head cold, on his way to the airport to catch a plane to London, Andrew Denton's irrepressible enthusiasm, curiosity and intelligence are ... well, irrepressible.
"We don't like to repeat ourselves," he says to explain the freshly packaged, re-cut, polished, re-thought out and generally new experience of previously seen interviews in a short series of More Than Enough Rope which goes to air in the familiar Monday night slot on ABC TV from May 28.
The time slot is about the only thing unchanged: although the shows are repeats of some of Denton's (and the audience's) favourites, there are significant differences.
"I think it's a great thing to do," says ABC TV's iconoclastic chat show host. "The most interesting thing on TV is when you see the flaws. It's ridiculous that there's this convention that what you see on television has to be perfect."
So we get to see, not so much bloopers, but the unexpected glitches and unscripted moments when guests - and host - break out of the formulaic mould of the chat show (which even Enough Rope slides into, so beguiling is its chair).
"It's such a drag and a load of bulls**t to pretend it always goes to plan," says Denton. "It would be so boring if that were true. And we wouldn't be interested in going over old ground."
So, if you saw them first time around and think you know all about what happened when Cate Blanchett, Jane Goodall, Michael Parkinson, Richard E Grant and Peter Foster appeared on the show - think again.
"We take you inside the process," says Denton. "People said - why props? When Cate Blanchett was on the show. Well, it seemed right and as you 'll see, it makes different things happen."
English actor and writer Richard E Grant is one of the guests who put Denton on his mettle and it's an electrifying session to watch two people merrily - and not quite so merrily - defying all the polite conventions of the genre. Denton doesn't mind the embarrassing moments, he says.
"No, not at all. We don't want people to think we're just re-running the successful shows and congratulating ourselves. These are the most interesting - even if some are at my expense."
The repackaged shows include sequences that were cut from the originals, for time or other reasons and which now - either in hindsight or time passing - have been added or restored.
"My favourite is the con man, Peter Foster," says Denton. "It really is about giving someone enough rope. We did nothing, he did it all himself and you see him attempt to manipulate things, before and after the show. If people watch this there'll be no chance anyone will ever be conned by him again." (It's also the show that wont be seen in Queensland in this series because of Foster's impending trial.)
With more Ropes in the pipeline and his recent documentary on American evangelism screened successfully, Denton is off again on his permanent quest to do different things, differently.
"We'll do more docos, but we're just leaving ourselves open to change. If I'm not sure how to do it, then that's what I'll go after."
Given he's such a prominent figure at the ABC the question has to be asked: any plans to emulate uber pollie-wrestler Maxine McKew and now weatherman Mike Bailey and run for parliament for Labor?
"Ah! I'm glad you asked," says Denton. "No. And I just want to say I've been shocked, over the years, by the left-leaning weather he's been giving. Those Trotskyite cloudbursts ... clearly biased. Appalling."
More Than Enough Rope, ABC TV 9.30pm Monday nights