After more than 10 years of on-air bickering, John Safran and Father Bob Maguire are saying goodbye to Sunday Night Safran on Triple J.
Safran, one of Australia’s few comedic documentarians, made the announcement at the beginning of last night’s show. “I’m off on a little book adventure where I’m going around the country and looking into Islam and anti-Islam in modern-day Australia," he told Broadsheet this morning. "That’s the book I’m working on which will be out late next year. The bad news is that this is the last year of Sunday Night Safran.”
The two-hour program has delved into politics, culture and religion, and provided a platform for a range of voices. A legacy of diversity that began quite flippantly when Safran thought that one of the funniest things he could do on youth radio was to get a senior-citizen priest on board. “I guess that’s the passive aggressive way I approach my work,” Safran says. Safran first worked with Father Bob when he was a guest on Safran’s SBS show John Safran vs God in 2004. Since then, Father Bob has become a media personality himself, and arguably Australia’s most famous Roman Catholic Priest.
For Safran, some of the most memorable moments from the show are those that connected spiritualism and sheer coincidence. Early in their run, on the way to the show, he picked up a hunch-backed man who was lost in the traffic. “He got in the car, and I said ‘Where do you need to go?’ He kept giving me all these directions, turn left, right, and after about half an hour we were at a red light. He asked me where we were, and I looked up and we were next to this place called the Hunchbax restaurant. And I couldn’t believe that I was sitting in a car with a hunchback and I was outside this place. That just proves to me that God or some kind of force exists out there.”
Ironically, Safran says of all the things Father Bob taught him, the most influential was the Buddhist art of Zen. “I remember one time, he was running a charity promotion and he thought he was going to get this huge donation. When he found out it was a prank he was really calm about it. He was Zen,” says Safran. “It’s a shame he didn’t teach me any Catholicism.”
The duo’s final show on Sunday December 13 will feature a look back at some of Father Bob’s and Safran’s favourite controversies, debates and interviews from the past 10 years. In January a new program about sex and relationships will premiere in the Sunday Night Safran time slot.