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Neil Patrick Harris has been everywhere for the past several months. His hit series How I Met Your Mother ended last spring. Following the hullabaloo surrounding the finale he appeared in Gone Girl and was signed on to host this year’s Oscars ceremony. Now, he’s been hired to host an American version of the popular variety show Saturday Night Takeaway, which has been bought by NBC. It’ll probably be le-gen-dary, but we'll have to wait for it to air.
Harris has mentioned being interested in a variety series for a while. He went on The Howard Stern Show last spring to talk about his interest in variety shows in general, as well as his post-HIMYM career moves. On Monday, NBC’s Paul Telegdy confirmed that Harris has signed on to host Takeaway on NBC, but that he won’t be settling down to work on the details until after his gig with the Oscars is completed. He also told Vulture that the show will hit the schedule sometime in 2015 and that 10 episodes per year are expected to be the norm for NBC’s version of Saturday Night Takeaway should it get more than one season.
The move shows a change in NBC’s programming goals in recent years. As more people have shifted to using DVR, NBC has sought ways to put together outside-the-box event programming presumably created to inspire viewers to plunk down in front of their TVs and watch live like the good old days. This includes last year’s successful Sound of Music Live! broadcast along with this year’s Peter Pan Live!.
Honestly, if NBC can make an Americanized version of Takeaway work, the network has certainly signed on the right person to host. Telegdy calls the variety show “physically demanding,” and someone like Harris has the right amount of energy to make it work. Just check out the opening sequence to one of his high-energy stints as the host of the Tony Awards.
It seems like there could be a huge snafu when considering the title and the format of Saturday Night Takeaway, however. For 40 years, NBC has aired Saturday Night Live as its big show on Saturdays, and you would think a Saturday Night Takeaway series would directly compete with the late night sketch comedy program (not to mention very few people watch TV on Saturday nights). However, the American version of the ITV series will not take the original name and it won’t air on Saturday evenings, at all. Which begs the question, why did NBC pay a reported 2.5 million to purchase Saturday Night Takeaway instead of simply creating its own variety series? Some mysteries will never be solved.