Entertainment

Andy Lee tested new TV game show on his girlfriend

The year was 2013, and Australia’s best loved comedy duo had found themselves in a world of pain after spending a full day at “this strange theme park” in China, filming scenes for Gap Year Asia that “never made it to air.”“We’d spent the whole day on our feet,” Lee tells The BINGE Guide, “and when we got back (to the hotel), we were buggered.”Being the pampered TV stars they are, the pair set off for foot massages at a local day spa.“The salon had a big-screen TV and this show came on. And we loved it,” he recalls, laughing at the absurdity of the moment.“You don’t really need to understand what they’re saying to actually follow the games,” Lee explains, “which basically puts me out of a job, doesn’t it?”

He continues the travelogue: “they kept bringing us watermelon and we were betting on the show between the two of us as to whether these people would pass these simple task. As it turned out, we left with bellyaches because we’d had two hour foot massages and so much watermelon and a lot of juan had exchanged hands. But we do remember the show fondly and then we never saw it again.”Lee brings that cheeky court jester personality to his first solo hosting role on The Cube, a thrilling new game show for 10.With mini-golf game series, Holey Moley proving an unexpected hit for Seven, and Nine enjoying solid ratings for similar shows including Australian Ninja Warrior and Lego Masters, this mental and physical challenge could well find an audience with families still looking for post-COVID stimulation.As Lee jokes, “you don’t have to cook, you don’t have to sing … basically anyone can walk up and if you’ve got good reflexes and memory, you’re as good a chance to get through to play for the quarter million bucks.”The action is set inside a perspex ‘cube’ with a staggering 140 cameras trained on the contestants’ every move.It makes for sensational images, from spectacular slow-mo replays to augmented reality moments.

For Lee, it’s a departure from his other radio and TV roles, but one that engaged his brain and imagination.Played in teams of two, the pressure can tell on relationships, be it family or friends, Lee explains, who put his own girlfriend Bec Harding to the test.“Bec came out and played the games with me. And yeah,” he jokes, “we are no longer together.” “We had the advantage of not playing this show under pressure. It doesn’t have any safe zones. It’s not like (Who Wants To Be A) Millionaire. You have to risk it all to keep going and the pressure becomes really high.”He adds: “there are certainly moments where the pressure gets too much and they get a little narky at each other.”Like Lego Masters and Ninja, which saw kids across the country engaging in the activities outside of the programs, Lee predicts The Cube will inspire many to play along at home.“There are games you’ll be able to play along with while you watch it,” he says.“There’s a calculation game where blocks fall across the floor in different patterns and you’ve got to count the blocks as they come towards you.”He adds: “It’s just a basic addition game but if you’re playing for $20K and you’re wrong, well … it becomes a little trickier.”

While it’s certainly a game the family can play, it takes a serious head and the wisdom of a navy SEAL, Lee says, to master The Cube and win the cash.“The slogan on the navy SEALS website is ‘slowly is smooth and smooth is fast.’ And I would say that really is true for these games … that if you’re composed and you’re methodical, you’ve generally got enough time. But as soon as you slip up or have to go back and correct something, you’re gone pretty much.”For the 39-year-old sports nut, who talks footy and cricket on Seven’s panel show, The Front Bar and makes regular appearances on Nine’s coverage of the tennis, The Cube’s parallels with his favourite codes was a “side product” of his love for the show.“I was talking recently to (David Teague) the coach of my footy team, Carlton about the composure needed on the show and he said, ‘this is fascinating because we’ve got sports psychologists that work at all the football clubs, all the NRL teams, as well as the cricket, to try and make sure players stay composed in that zone,” Lee says.“And there is no better version of seeing how people respond to pressure than watching this show.”

But for all the serious sports psychology involved, comedian Lee admits he loved it most for the belly laughs.“There’s a couple of times I lost it that much laughing and then had to apologise because someone is obviously upset they’ve just lost … it makes me sound like the perfect host, right?”
* The Cube with Andy Lee, 7.30pm Wednesday, February 24 on 10.

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