End of an Era: Q&A with Big V TV host Justin Nelson

It was the the focal point of the league’s media front for the past nine years. Led by someone who is now classified as a Big V historian, where his

It was the the focal point of the league’s media front for the past nine years. Led by someone who is now classified as a Big V historian, where his knowledge of Victoria’s most prominent state based competition is argued to be second-to-none.

Justin Nelson was the face of Big V TV, an online visual production which has seen its fare share of highlights, lowlights, comedic value and a tear or two.

Now, with the 2019 season on the horizon, the time has come where Nelson has decided to take his talents elsewhere. And for our sake, we’ve tried to ship him as far away as possible. Thankfully, that meant across an ocean, where we may not ever see him again!

After announcing that he will step aside and take a job in New Zealand, Nelson’s time with the Big V has come to an end. This has also prompted a move in a new direction when it comes to the league’s biggest media publication.

For now, let’s take a step back in time and reminisce the highs and lows of Big V TV with Justin Nelson as we sat down with him for one final Q&A.

What was your first reaction when you realised that you would not be returning for a tenth year of Big V TV?

My first reaction was the fans would finally be happy not to have to see my ugly mug on the show any more! 

It’s been a long haul, but when you stop and think about all the shows, the co-hosts, the guests, players and coaches, it’s been an amazing ride. For the show to have survived nine years and probably more than two thousand episodes, it’s been such a big part of my life and a fun part as well. I think for a few years we were doing twelve shows a week, that’s nearly three hundred shows for the season.

I would have loved to have rounded out my time out with a tenth season, but a new opportunity overseas is calling and I’m looking forward to the move. I’ll miss the show for sure, but I’m sure the next host will soon emerge.

How did Big V TV first originate and its inception?

By the time the concept for a show was raised, away from my coaching I had built a lengthy career in the media, so the league approached me and asked if I would host the show?

It actually started as a proposed 10-minute weekly show with Matthew ‘Hammer’ Cowling and a work-experience kid named Callum Chambers. I think we may have stuck to the time limit that first show, but after that we pretty much kept creating new things and doing what we wanted, and it wasn’t long before the show grew into something much bigger.


We had a lot of fun, but I’m too sure the players and coaches quite knew what to make of it all. To be honest though I don’t think any of us thought for one minute it would last nine years or attract a good audience. I catch up with Hammer on my travels every so often and he can’t believe the show is still going.

What were some of the early reactions to Big V TV?

 It’s hard to remember what others thought, but I’m sure we thought it was great! There must have been someone watching though because I labelled Cal with the nickname ‘Sweet Cal’ in the first or second show and almost instantly he had teammates and opponents calling him ‘Sweet Cal’ in games. But then again, maybe that just meant Cal was running around distributing copies of the show!

Over the years I’ve always said that the show isn’t for everyone and almost pleaded with the audience at times not to take us too seriously, but you can be assured even from those early days there are still people who approach me now and remind me of something I said, or that one time I tipped against them.

I must admit you do feel like you’ve been a part of the furniture for a few years too many when you run into players from those early years who now have children and are doing the school run each day.

Who were some of your favourite guests to have on Big V TV?

Oh, way too many to remember! I’d hate to try and think of how many guests we have had on the show, it would be a massive number. I have made so many good friends through Big V TV, the players and coaches in particular have always had fun with it all.

At times we branched out and took the show on the road, and for a couple of years I did a spinoff called ‘On The Couch’, where I spent time with lots of players. I think one of the most memorable guests (multiple times) was Vlad Tankov, he just left us in stitches and it was incredibly hard to keep a straight face around him. In fact I gave up even trying.

When I think back over nine years, I just want to thank everyone who came on the show, they are the people who made the show so popular. For me Big V TV from day one was always about the players in particular, I always told our crew to mention the players as much as possible. The players were always the stars of the show.

What were some of your favourite moments on Big V TV?

We had one very funny filming session one night with Cam Tragardh, Gerard Leonard and Tommy Greer, with a lot of very funny antics and impressions off camera. I enjoyed (way too much) shaving Cal’s legs during one show, but maybe that was more about inflicting pain? And then of course a couple of years ago Craig Freeman shaved his head and I did the first couple of strips – I don’t think my hands have ever shaken so much.

Craig got a bit frisky and wanted a full waxing to take place, which was more than enough for me to drop the clippers and run. Winding people up was always a lot of fun on the show, getting players into strife with their teammates with media fines, we always enjoyed that.

I also really enjoyed taking the show out to the clubs and being in their space. I’m a massive supporter of grassroots basketball and all the fantastic people who put the hard yards in, so helping to promote the clubs was always great fun.

However, I think my most favourite moments on Big V TV were coming up with the nicknames for players. Not all of them liked the nicknames, but I got away with most of them, and I continue to be amazed (and humoured) by how many of the nicknames stuck. Always good for a laugh when you hear a nickname being used by others. 

When did Big V TV go rogue and were there some funny or ‘interesting’ moments?

We had plenty of funny things happen, mostly when we took the show out of the studio. One day down by a lake in Rowville it was pouring with rain and four of us we were huddled under a leaking shelter. We only realised later when watching the show back that off in the background there were two kangaroos ‘doing the job’, if you know what I mean.

Then there was one brisk morning down at Warrandyte when we filmed by the Yarra River and literally three minutes into the show a thick fog rolled in and all you could hear were our voices. We were just metres from the camera and you couldn’t see us at all – which was probably what viewers had been wanting for a long time!

One day at Ringwood lake we had an old Chinese man playing a flute or something similar, and when he saw the camera he obviously thought his 15 seconds of fame had arrived and proceeded to serenade us with some god-awful noise.

For a few years I had Nathan Sewell on the show with me and he was a shocker when it came to cracking up laughing during the show. If Nathan lost it, you could be guaranteed it was going to be a long day. I remember one show we actually had to film our parts separately, we just couldn’t sit in the same room otherwise we would just make each other laugh. He was bloody funny that guy.

I always told people not to take us too seriously, have some fun and have a laugh. I think once people worked out that a lot of what we did was light-hearted, it helped us all to relax and try and be a little bit entertaining.

Will you make a special return if there was ever a ‘Big V TV, The Movie’?

Ha, I might have to run a colour rinse through my hair and get some strategically placed injections! It’s been a great journey and I have always said to players and coaches to never say never, so who knows?

Jodi Impey has had about a dozen comebacks, so I guess there is hope for me yet. Maybe we can do a Kiwi version – I’ll speak with Peter Jackson when I arrive in Wellington! Maybe Steve Chalmers can play Big V TV’s version of Gollum – he looks a bit like him.

Was there anything you didn’t get to do on the show that you would have loved to have done?

Probably a few things, but without doubt I would have loved to do a show in Mildura. It’s my one great regret on Big V TV. For some reason, the great people of Mildura embraced me and the show more than any other club. Sorry Pakenham, I think you might be a close second!

I met so many good people up in Mildura over the years, they are a great bunch, mind you it never stopped them from giving me plenty of stick when I was coaching against them.

If there is ever a demand for one comeback Big V TV show my one and only stipulation will be that it must be filmed in Mildura. I’m going to act like a demanding rock star – it won’t be a bowl full of blue M&Ms I’ll be demanding, it will be a flight to Mildura!

Did you ever get contacted by players or coaches about what you had said on a show?

Oh, absolutely, all the time. I was continually amused by how many times coaches used what we said on the show as motivation for their team before a game. I always thought ‘why would players give a sh*t about what I thought?’

One of the most bizarre things to happen to me was when a coach called me and asked as a favour if I could get stuck into his team, to really give it to them on a few things (which he pointed out to me) in the hope that they would take it on board as his words weren’t getting through. I obliged and gave his team some stick, just as I was asked to do.

It was a few years later when I ran into a player from that coach’s team and we were having a chat over a beer. I told him about the time his coach had called me with the request. The player burst out laughing as he remembered back to that moment, which he remembered very well.

He then proceeded to tell me that the coach had played the show to the team before training on a Thursday night and told them all that I was a nobody, I had no idea what I was talking about and that he was deeply offended by what I had said about his team. Whatever works I guess, but that same coach called me a few years ago and admitted what he had done.

We had a laugh about it ….. then I deleted his number out of my phone!

What will you miss most about Big V TV?

That’s an easy question –  I’ll miss the people, both the viewers and all the wonderful people who have sat alongside me on the show. I have had so many co-hosts and not once has there been tension, it has always been fun and so many laughs shared by all of us. I always enjoy running into them all these days, I have become very good friends with so many of them.

I have also literally been blown away over the years by how many times I’ve been stopped by people who watch the show and want to talk to me about it. Basketball stadiums, supermarkets, carparks, train stations, at the football, in airports, even in hotels overseas, Big V TV has followed me everywhere and people love to stop and say hello.

It’s very humbling to be honest. It may come across as a bit of surprise, but I’m a very different person off camera and I think people noticed that whenever they caught up with me for a chat. I’ve got six grandkids for heaven’s sake! I just hope somewhere along the way I’ve raised a smile out of people, even if only once or twice.

Basketball is meant to be fun and I’ve tried my absolute best to keep it that way for myself, and hopefully for others.

On behalf of the entire league, and in particular its staff and member community, we would like to thank Justin for his time with the league and wish him the very best in his future endeavours.

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