Perth-born Jo Beth, who began performing as a kid before finding fame in the ’90s as a singing sensation turned popular TV host, says the show was a career pinnacle.
“There are endless wonderful memories, and it might seem like a cliché, but the Hey Hey gang was a fabulously happy family. Everyone got on, which is unusual in the TV pressure cooker of clashing egos,” smiles Jo Beth.
“It was ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ TV. There were no scripts, it unfolded live – which was hugely exciting and sometimes terrifying.”
When she accepted Daryl’s offer in 1995, Jo Beth was already busy hosting
Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show and juggling a successful music career.
After joining Hey Hey, she also occasionally hosted the kids’ series, What’s Up Doc?, making her Australia’s busiest TV star. Coincidentally, it was Hey Hey legend and music guru, Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum, who suggested her moniker ‘Jo Beth’ from her birth name, Joanne Rebecca Guilfoyle.
“What you see with Molly is what you get. He genuinely loves music and is so supportive of the biz. We used to live down the road from one another … that was a laugh-a-minute.”
Red Symons is another “absolute treasure” Jo Beth got to work with. In fact, the two most-asked Hey Hey questions she gets asked are, what is Red really like and who’s in the Plucka Duck suit?
“Of Red, I used to gush he was so kind, intelligent and sweet … then Red begged me to stop telling the truth, as it was shattering his carefully crafted ‘Mr Nasty’ image. As for Plucka Duck, my lips are sealed,” she says, laughing.
Jo Beth says the show’s contributors, Wilbur Wilde, John Blackman and Trevor Marmalade were brilliant co-stars. As for Daryl, “I don’t have enough gratitude.”
This is why Jo Beth was so distressed when, in 2016, innocuous remarks she made about Daryl during her stint on I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here were misconstrued.
“I said Daryl liked to be number one. It was never intended to be bitchy. He was the boss. But my mind was a mush on that show and maybe I should have been more careful. I called Daryl and he was lovely about it.”
In 1997, Jo Beth shocked fans by abruptly quitting TV. She says she was headed for a devastating emotional crash.
“I was burnt out, crying for days on end and unable to leave the house. Career-wise, I was on top of the world, but emotionally I was a wreck. So I quit the show and went to stay with a friend in San Diego.
“I loved the anonymity. I became a barista, went surfing every day, got my head together and loved life again.
“Looking back, I now realise if only it’d been OK to talk about mental health issues, I’d probably never have left.”
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