“It was like a religion for me”: Toni Pearen lives her dream by hosting young talents unmasked
He launched some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, such as Tina Arena, Dannii Minogue, Jamie Redfern and Jane Scali, and has presented over 800 episodes.
To celebrate this legacy of the 70s and 80s, Channel 10 created The time of young talents unmasked, who will relive all the dizzying heights, behind-the-scenes drama and heartbreak, and celebrate the moments that made household names of his young stars.
Toni Pearen has been a huge fan of the show for as long as she can remember and eventually made her childhood dream come true by joining the The time of young talents Team as host of the special meeting.
“Watching The time of young talents was like religion to me growing up. Every Saturday night I would sit my brother down and watch him with me, then record him so I could watch the replay on Sunday, âToni told 10 play.
“It was basically all of my childhood, because the show aired in ’71 and I was born in ’72.”
Receiving the opportunity to host the special reunion was surreal and something she hadn’t expected.
âI’m still pinching myself. I remember when I got the callâ¦ I told my brother and he just laughed for the next five minutes because he lived my love of The time of young talents. I feel like the planets are aligned in a way I never imagined, âshe said with a laugh.
Growing up, Toni desperately wanted to be a part of The time of young talents, admitting that she begged her parents to move to Melbourne so that she could audition. But of course, every time she asked, they immediately said no, “As if this had never been a discussion.”
“If I had told my 12-year-old self, sitting in front of the television, that one day I would organize the 50-year reunion of The time of young talentsâ¦ I mean, life is just fascinating, and you can never give up hope.
Audiences can expect everything they loved about the original show to shine through in this special.
âLots of great ’80s fashions, lots of long hair, lots of mules, lots of good dance routines and songs we haven’t heard in a very long time. Dannii and Tina sitting in a room together, talking about their education and what it was like to be on The time of young talents and their memoriesâ¦ Itâs going to be a lot of fun.
âBut there are also some heartbreaking stories, like what happened to Juanita Coco. She unfortunately died in a car accident. We have talked about it and pay tribute to it. And I think it’s very timely that we’re celebrating 50 years, and I really think the show should absolutely be given the credit it deserves.
One of the most exciting parts of organizing the show for Toni was being able to âsay the names and see all the facesâ that she idolized growing up.
âI always sang and danced, this was the world I wanted to live in. I idolize these people so seeing Dannii, Tina, Devin, Joey and Courtney there is such familiarity with them that I have. almost felt like I knew them – which I don’t, but I’m a real fan. So that was surreal. It’s still surreal.
But looking back, there’s one thing that stands out about her that really shows how much the show has really aged.
âFashion is so funny. It was fashion for me, The time of young talents was the epitome of fashion. And I based my whole wardrobe on what Young Talent time or what Dannii was wearing that week. And now in hindsight, this is really a time in our life that we can repeat. It is definitely a special time in our life.
Sadly, due to the nature of the world right now, Toni isn’t interviewing the original cast herself, but they did tap a big, juicy interview with Tina Arena, Dannii Minogue, and Johnny Young where they talk about the series and the pass.
âThe mere fact that Channel 10 and the people involved could pull this off was just amazing. I think that’s what we all need right now, we need relief and an opportunity to smile and forget about the world for a minute and see how far we’ve come. The last couple of years it’s been full of ups and downs, and then you get a little gem like this.
The time of young talents was not just a show, but it created a sense of community among all of its viewers, giving each one an individual experience and memories, which they still cherish today.
“Everyone has their own story … All of my girlfriends are married with children and one of my girlfriends admitted the other day that she was convinced she was marrying Bevin and was writing to him to tell him” , she said with a laugh.
“I think The time of young talents were our first crushes, as they were all the same age and we could all relate to each other. I didn’t expect to get such an intense response from people about how everyone has their memories and they are all really great memories, which is so sweet.
Even Toni had a major fan-girl moment when she shared one of her âmost precious possessionsâ with the producer.
âI still have the Christmas card that Dannii Minogue wrote to me in 1984. I sent a picture of it to the producer, I don’t think she can believe it. If my house was on fire, I would catch it. When they were meeting Johnny, Tina and Dannii, they asked her if she remembered writing my letter. Unfortunately, she said noâ¦ I don’t take it personally, âshe laughed.
The special reunion not only gives the generation who loved watching it the opportunity to relive the past, but gives the new generation a chance to understand it, watch it and experience it for themselves.
âWith my own kids, it will be good to see their reaction because when I talked to my son about my new role as a facilitator, and I had to explain what The time of young talents was, I could just see him thinking mom, you lost your mind.
âI think that’s what’s so great about music and pop culture – there’s always a point in the lives of future generations that it’s relived, and they’re starting to get a new appreciation for it. We never know, The time of young talents could come back.