These days, free to air television is as much fun as watching a late-night SBS film with your folks in the room. However, it wasn’t always like this.

In the buffet of hard to digest television, Who Dares Wins shone like a freshly fried batch of mouth-watering potato gems, and oh boy did you want more.

It was hosted by two memorable Aussie icons. Firstly, Mike Whitney – a former Aussie fast bowler who would look as comfortable with a cricket ball as he would a cold Emu on a warm day. Secondly, Tania Zaetta – the TV host single-handedly driving up Kleenex sales among a certain viewership.

Essentially, the premise of the show was Whitney being released into shopping malls and looking for victims to participate in his deranged carnival of dares. He was a one-man stimulus package – uniting contestants with the bulging wad of pineapples in his pocket.

Like a good test cricketer, Whitney was great at pacing his wicked games. He would start out nice and easy to get a feel for it. For example, he’d get you to shove your face into a tub of spaghetti and fish out a dirty 20c coin. Or he’d get you to shove as many eggs as you could down your gullet.

After a few small dares, Whitney would get that look in his eye – the look of a man about to raise the stakes. His lust for endearing social humiliation knew no bounds and he’d progress to the slightly bigger dares – getting a woman to shave her head, running on top of a nearby building etc.

Of course, the more gnar the dare the higher reward. Whitney may have been a diabolical genius but he was fair and the number of pineapples he produced always seemed fair enough.

Eventually, Whitney grew tired of the constraints of a shopping mall and would coax people on the lunch break away from the city and get them to do something absurd – surf boat rowing, a practice helicopter sea rescue, etc.

Every dare, however, was leading up to the final dare. That’s when Tania would step in to host a masterclass in watching some poor member of the public shit themselves on live television.

Final dares always had an amazing ability to tap into the raw source of the participants inner dread. Anything dealing with heights was common but Tania wouldn’t hesitate to shove you 60 feet down a cave or in a cage with a shark. Whatever it took.

If you bitched out on national TV than Tania would have to step in and gives the dare a crack. If Tania also failed then you would win the prize. However, if she nailed it you’d go home the loser of the day.

If you nailed the final dare outright you’d win a Harvey World Travel holiday, a hug from Tania and most importantly, the respect of Mike Whitney. Some say that once you’re invited to have a drink with Whitney you’ve made it in this country.

Hard to disagree.

Documenting the Human Zoo is thirsty work, so if you enjoyed what you read how about buying Belle a beer, ay?

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