When Celia Pacquola received the call to host Thank God You're Here, her answer was a no-brainer.
"It was a very easy yes," the Australian comedian tells Refinery29 Australia. "I really tried to figure out why it was a bad idea and I couldn't think of anything."
After last airing on Aussie screens from 2006 to 2009, the program makes a return to Channel 10 tonight, with Pacquola taking over the hosting gig from original presenter, Shane Bourne.
The TV show hones in on the skilful art of improvisation. As each participant walks through a blue door and hears the phrase, 'Thank god you're here', they must think on the spot and begin acting, using the specifically built set and their co-stars to create a compelling, believable and yet hilarious skit.
Like any revamped version of a fan favourite, the stakes are high for the show to get it right in 2023. Pacquola feels some responsibility to ensure that it lives up to viewers' expectations.
"That's the fear when you're bringing back a version of a much-loved show. You're like, 'Is it going to come back and people are gonna go, you've ruined it?'" she says. "But the format can't be messed with, and they haven't messed with it."
The foundations of the weekly show are the same. Each episode will feature several comedians challenged in the ultimate drama-on-steroids kind of situation. But rather than the original judge Tom Gleisner, there will be a guest judge each week to critique the participants' performance.
As for the judges' identities, Pacquola's lips are firmly sealed. However, she's more than happy to divulge details about the comedians who will be thrown into the ring.
Tonight's premiere episode stars Urzila Carlson, Aaron Chen, Julia Zemiro and Mark Bonanno. Pacquola is proud that this season's cast features a mix of veteran comedians and newcomers on the comic scene. There's also greater gender diversity this time around.
"It's something that I've noticed, because I've been watching a bunch of old episodes just to brush up and remember stuff. Something you notice is that there was only ever one woman on the show," she says.
"That was sort of normal. It was normal when I started stand-up."
Pacquola notes that in the original version, there was "Shane and Tom, and it was always three guys and one woman" in each episode. "Whereas in our series, there's me on stage and then in every episode, it's two men and two women."
"It's great and it's not a big deal or anything, it's just how it is. I'm happy [for it] to be about women working, because I happen to be a woman who likes to work," she laughs.
Ultimately, Pacquola hopes viewers feel the nostalgia of the OG series, while appreciating its fresher approach.
"I just really hope they love it as much as I do," she laughs. 'I hope that it makes them feel as warm and fuzzy as I know I felt watching the old one."
Thank God You're Here premieres on Wednesday, August 2 at 7:30pm on Channel 10 and 10 Play.