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Popular Oz laffer axed

Ratings slip after 28 years on air

SYDNEY — Despite picking up another two TV Week awards this year, including a gong for most popular comedy program, Australia’s longest-running variety show, “Hey Hey It’s Saturday,” has been axed after 28 years by the increasingly cost-conscious Nine Network.

Skedded to bow out on Nov. 20 — ostensibly as a result of declining ratings and increasing production costs — the once irreverent and edgy show, which made frontman Daryl Somers an Oz household name, started out as a saucy adult-skewing Saturday morning kids’ cartoon show before moving to an evening time slot in 1986.

Several other veteran Oz TV institutions such as “Midday” and “Wide World of Sports” have been axed in the last 12 months because of increasing competition from pay TV and the Internet.

Rumor has it that Somers is now being considered as a potential host for the Seven Network’s new Saturday night variety program, tentatively titled “Saturday Night Live.”