Inside Seven takes you deep into the marvellously bonkers world of Holey Moley in this exclusive interview with show creator and EP, Chris Culvenor.
We’ve seen the promos. There’s windmills, two-story tall rubber duckies and giant hot dogs. Is this the most colourful and unique show you’ve ever produced?!
Holey Moley is unlike any show out there. It’s the most extreme Mini Golf course ever created, where the most passionate putters on the planet face-off in hilarious and high-stake battles. In a landscape filled with many similar shows, Holey Moley’s ridiculous and Willy Wonka-esq world really stands out from the pack.
But it’s more than just the spectacle. What else is in the DNA of this show?
The show is more than just hilarious hits and wild wipeouts. Firstly, the skill level of these world-class mini golfers will blow you away! Everyone on the course is there to win and the audience will witness some absolutely incredible putts. The other important element is comedy. Rob Riggle and Matt Shirvington’s commentary can’t be missed and their back-and-forth with our host Sonia Kruger is very very funny.
It sounds like this show is close to your heart. Tell us why you love it so much?
When I created this show, I wanted to tap into the huge joy and nostalgia that comes from mini golf. Everyone has such fond memories of playing, whether on a family holiday, a first date or just playing with your mates. This show takes that cherished childhood memory and super-sizes to an extreme level!
When we sold it to ABC in the States, it became the number one show of the American Summer and achieved even bigger results in Season 2. The smash hit success in the USA has lead to the format selling around the world – but as an Australian, it’s EXTRA special for me to bring the show home to Australia and launch it on Seven.
There’s some pretty significant talent on the show – Greg Norman, Rob Riggle, Sonia Kruger, Matt Shirvington. Tell us about some of the fun you guys had on set.
Rob Riggle was a huge part of the show’s success in the USA so it was a huge coup for Seven to secure him for the Aussie version. He instantly hit it off with Matt Shirvington and what you’ll witness over the series is a hilarious buddy bromance as they commentate the action.
Sonia is the perfect compliment to Rob and Shervo, she’s got an incredible combination of quick wit and the ability to emotionally connect with our contestants as she chats to them on the course.
Greg Norman was a huge fan of the US series so when he heard we were producing an Aussie version he jumped right in, embracing the ridiculousness. He’s obviously one of the greatest golfers in history, but what the audience will witness is he’s also got a fantastic sense of humour and is happy to take the piss.
The show was first commissioned in America with Steph Curry NBA Super Shooter as EP and Resident Golf Pro – how did that come about?
After we sold the series to ABC, we wanted to find a superstar celebrity to attach as both EP and the Resident Golf Pro. Steph is an absolutely obsessive golfer and when we first met about the project he immediately got it, and actually started pitching us new hole ideas! He told me he now gets stopped in the street with people wanting to ask him about Holey Moley, which as three time NBA champion is pretty hilarious.
Pulling off a show of this scale and spectacle must have been a challenge like no other. Tell us about an aspect that the audience would NEVER EXPECT took so much time, energy or effort.
The speed of the giant windmills, the bounce of the huge rubber duckies and the rings of Uranus are all tested by a crack team of crash-test-putters. These heroes of the green test every bump, thump and wipeout so that Holey Moley can be the most epic and extreme course in the world!
The Holey Moley art team is also the best in the world. They have been able to achieve incredible scale and combine it with fun whimsical details. When viewers watch the contestants being smashed by the giant windmills, watch for the field of foam tulips that catch their fall… then think of the art team that put each one of them together!
COVID meant you had to do a quick pivot from shooting on the existing set in LA, to building a replica in Australia. How did you make it work for the show and what has this year taught you or changed in the way you work?
We were shooting the Aussie version on the US set when COVID hit and shutdown the production. It sounds cheesy but it was that classic Aussie “can do” spirit that enabled us to achieve the impossible and rebuild this massive set in Queensland. The amazing team were not only able to replicate the incredible US set, but also improved on it and gave it a few Aussie tweaks. The result is a show that feels as epic as the US show, but also feels distinctly Australian.
What do you hope this show will provide to Aussies in Q1 this year?
The show is a beacon of ridiculous family fun and after a tough twelve months, I hope Holey Moley will provide audiences with some much need laughs! When the US version launched, America became mini golf obsessed, so we’re hoping Australia gets in on the fun too!
Chris Culvenor is the co-founder of Eureka Productions and among the world’s most successful and prolific TV program creators and producers responsible for a long list of hit TV franchises both in the US and Australia. Shows that Culvenor has created include Holey Moley (ABC, Seven), Dating Around (Netflix), Fake Off (TruTV) The Big Deal (TNT), Billion Dollar Buyer (CNBC), Restaurant Startup (CNBC), Going Wild (NatGeo), The Chefs’ Line (SBS), The Shire (TEN), and WAG Nation (Arena).