“Someone asked ‘How do you have a hit show on television?’ and I said ‘Get axed, wait seven years and come back,” laughs Mikey Robins.
In an era when TV fans are calling for a number of shows to return to our screens, Good News Week is a rarity. It was revived seven years after departing our screens and has managed to survive as a popular show. The TEN comedy series now has two extra years under its belt, with a third to begin in February.
Tonight it ends 2009 with its annual Good News Week Awards, handed out to newsmakers of the year.
Robins told TV Tonight the show is a ‘glorified parlour game’ but despite the writers coming up with new games, he is a great believer in the theory that ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’
“It’s a very straightforward format. And the more straightforward the more room we have to be wild. Maybe it’s just me being lazy but I like the show the way it is,” he says.
“You need that game show format to give you the room to improvise.
“There’s a lot to be said for watching smart people panic. It’s the old Theatresports thing. And because it’s a current affairs stage show, everyone is terrified of looking dumb. So there’s double pressure. The pressure of being entertaining and the pressure of not looking like an idiot.”
GNW is now one of TEN’s stayers, regularly performing in a slot that takes on big competition.
“We get thrown up against the big guns from Seven and Nine with everything from Underbelly to FlashForward and Sea Patrol. Week in, week out we go into the trenches with the big boys and we always do fine in our target demo.”
One of the keys to its success is the GNW website, which has been pooling votes for tonight’s GNW Awards.
“It is a show that lends itself to be web-driven. We’ve got high interactivity with our viewers and of course the technology wasn’t there last time,” he says.
“I knew we were onto something good last year when one of my friends told me her son watched the show with a bunch of mates from high school with a chatroom. As they watched the show they were also in a chatroom about the show.
“They’re not watching TV like I watch TV. They watch it whilst texting, being in chatrooms,” he says.
But Robbins has learned not to partake of the habit himself, preferring a traditional approach to television viewing.
“Never Google your own name and never go to a Chatroom about your own show,” he warns.
The web is also partly to blame for this year’s moral outrage at comedy, Robins theorises. Good News Week has come in for its fair share of criticism, notably when Magda Szubanski slammed cyclists, and as recently as last week when Ben Elton joked about the Royal Family.
“It gets back to the power of the net. Everyone’s got a blog and every organisation’s got a chatroom. Whereas before you had a couple of disgruntled calls to reception, now the next thing you know is it’s on YouTube and everyone’s a critic,” says Robins.
“Certain things are always going to offend people, but what’s been weird this year is the level of hysteria about it. The Chaser boys, Magda, Red Faces, Ben Elton –it’s bizarre.
“A comedy show is doing something wrong if at least one person’s not offended. Then it just boils down to semantics.”
Tonight’s two hour finale will look back on newsmakers in sport, entertainment, politics and religion.
“It’s been the year of the Chk Chk Boom girl,” he says. “I think we’ve reached the low watermark in western culture. I knew she was going to be huge when not only was there a disco version of her on YouTube within 2 hours, but there was a remix of the disco version. Pop will eat itself.”
The final show, directed by GNW veteran Ted Robinson, promises a ‘cast of thousands’ with plenty of regulars from the series.
“And Paul will sing –he tends to that on the last show of the year,” sighs Robins.
“If we can keep it to one show a year I’m happy.”
Good News Week finale airs 8:30pm tonight on TEN.